We were doing a reading comprehension lesson last week and the text (which I got from the official Mozambique 11th grade English textbook) had the word “aeroplane.” Because the neighboring countries are all former British colonies, the English taught there is British English. So we have flavours and use colours, etc. And it wasn’t until we were reading the text during class and I got to the word “aeroplane” that I realized: wow, I have no idea how to pronounce that.
Last week during an English Club meeting we got onto the topic of men’s treatment of women. Especially when you spend time with the younger generation (as in America and any culture, I would imagine) you get the impression that times and attitudes are changing. Sometimes a kid here will say something, for example: that he wants to have a few wives and everyone laughs, but you get the impression that they are all aware that this isn’t accepted by everyone anymore or even that it’s a “naughty” thing, said to get a rise out of people. This goes for a lot of topics—women’s education, family size, sexual promiscuity—regardless of their personal opinions, there is an awareness that the world is slowly changing. So when treatment of women comes up in English Club, it’s no foreign subject, especially since my English Club kids are great and fairly progressive in terms of education and life views (and yes, sadly all of my English Club participants are boys…that tends to be how things go here). Ronnie was talking about how, at a public event recently, he had seen something that had made his blood boil. He had seen a group of teenage boys walk up to a group of teenage girls sitting on a bench and, after a short discussion, the girls got up to sit on the ground, allowing the boys to sit on the bench. Of course, all the boys in my English Club know that this is “wrong.” (And, due to the overload of information pumped into Africa by aid organizations, everyone here can tell you the “right” answer—whether it’s using a condom, using a mosquito net, or having one girlfriend—but saying the “right” answer doesn’t mean they actually want to change the way they live their lives.) So nobody at English Club was cheering for the boys in this story. Yet…the idea of this situation making somebody’s blood boil (and Ronnie got physically upset as he talked about this situation and all the others he sees on a regular basis), was completely lost on them. Sure it might not be right and those boys won’t be able to get away with that kind of behavior for too much longer, but that’s just the way things are here, and nobody would ever get upset seeing it.
After a wonderful dinner in town (at Inharrime’s finest restaurant, of course) with Anna’s parents who are here visiting her, on Friday we headed up to Vilanculos for beach olympics. I believe there were around 40 PCVs from all over Mozambique there which was awesome and so fun, because some of them I hadn’t seen since we left for our sites in December of 2009.
As of last night, the Laura Vicuña mission has a boarding dormitory for female secondary school students. Since there aren’t enough secondary schools in the country, many schools have these boarding places for students to stay when they travel from far away to attend classes. For my school, many students live Monday-Friday in little shacks that are made from palm leaves and might be two meters by two meters, and then on the weekends they go home to their families. In addition to the health and safety concerns associated with these slums (students live in groups of these little shacks), there is also a huge pregnancy rate, as would be expected. Since I first arrived here in December of 2009, there have been talks of having one of these boarding dormitories, but nothing had been realized yet, and so I assumed it probably wouldn’t until next year. But last night the first two girls arrived. Irmã Lucilia will move to live in the dormitory with them which will be an incredible test of patience, especially at the beginning when the girls aren’t used to standards of living that the sisters expect and live by.