Today is Mozambican Women’s Day, the day my REDES (girls in development, education and health) group has been preparing for for over a month. They had prepared a poem, a theater piece, and a song to perform for the public at the town’s ceremony at Inharrime plaza. Everything started about an hour late, of course. My girls were pretty far down in the schedule, so by the time they were called, many had wandered off or weren’t paying attention, and one girl had even decided to go home for a little bit. So when the MC for the day called them up, they were so discombobulated and missing so many key people that they didn’t enter, so the MC moved on to the next group. I furiously ran back from my picture-taking place and reamed them out, reminding them that they were not only representing our REDES group, but also our entire school and this was frankly shameful. We found two of the missing girls and made a substitute for the other who was missing. I menacingly threatened them with what would happen if they didn’t go out and perform beautifully when they were called again, and then left to find the MC. I apologize profusely to the MC and assured her that we were ready to go next and thankfully she was gracious about it. And they did wonderfully. Three of the girls recited “Still I Rise” (in Portuguese) by Maya Angelou. Six of the girls performed a skit about a girl whose parents try to force her to drop out of school so she can marry a rich guy, but her friends advise her parents to allow her to continue studying and she ends up being a successful doctor. And the song was wonderful. The MC announced us as the REDES group from Laura Vicuña school and also that the following celebration would be sponsored by REDES. Also, Erin had made a large pink sign saying REDES with the emblem that my girls proudly carried around the whole morning and brought out during our performances, so it was a great publicity day for REDES as an organization.
Afterwards Ann, Erin, and I had planned an Inharrime Women’s Day Celebration of Women as an Inter-group Exchange for our two groups, and also to be an open ceremony for women in the community. As I have mentioned before, Erin, Ann and I covered the cost of getting 50 t-shirts made for this day and sold them for 10 Meticais to each of our girls. The idea was to have about 30 leftover to sell to women in the community, and when we ordered the t-shirts that was how the numbers worked out. But Erin and Ann’s group grew from about 6 to 12 participants, and mine grew from about 12 to 21 participants. So after group facilitators and guest speakers, we ended up with 7 shirts leftover. The shirts are awesome and also only 20 Meticais so of course everyone wanted one (men included), and a lot of women were upset that they didn’t end up getting one. We had to do a raffle basically for the remaining t-shirts to be fair and avoid the bloodbath we feared. The Mozambican facilitator for Ann and Erin’s group had the fantastic idea that all the facilitators should get the same capulana to wear on bottom, so all six of us facilitators (I have two in addition to myself) looked great and matched with our yellow shirts and capulanas.
We invited the Inharrime chief of police, doctor, and prosecutor (who are all women—go Inharrime) to be our guest speakers and guests of honor for the day, joining us and the girls for lunch. I had braced myself for the possibility that at least one of them wouldn’t show or that some catastrophe might happen. But it was perfect. The three wonderful guests had a great rapport with the girls, came prepared, and gave amazing talks in each of their respective areas. We had had a question brainstorming session with the girls for each speaker beforehand, and this really helped get the ball rolling, so thought-provoking questions were asked and the speakers answered thoughtfully and candidly. In addition to our 33 girls and the 6 of us facilitators, 21 women and girls from the community came to hear the speakers, which was awesome. We ended up ending an hour early because everyone had been there since 7am and the girls from my school needed to study, but it was the perfect amount of time.
Except for the one glitch when my girls didn’t appear when called, the day really couldn’t have gone better. I am so happy with how well everything went and how much everyone enjoyed it. And I am relieved it’s over.