Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I put more pictures on the REDES Flickr site (address at right), so check them out!

My colleague gives a girl painting tips

7am and headed to Chidenguele!


Today was the big REDES (Rapariga em Desenvolvimento, Educação e Saúde—Girls in Development, Education and Health) Inter-group Exchange between my secondary school group, Shannon’s group and Naomi’s group (two other PCVs). For the Exchange, Naomi’s group and my group traveled to Chidenguele, Shannon’s site, to meet up with her group and to paint a mural on a wall in the soccer stadium there. We were scheduled to leave at 6am. At about 6:15am the bus showed and most of the girls had assembled at the meeting point. We had to wait a few minutes and send two girls to the houses of other girls to retrieve them, but we had everyone by 6:35am. Then we set off for the other meeting point (since my school is about 3 miles out of town, some of the girls live here near the school and some of the girls live in town). Everyone was there already! Except for one girl. Nobody had seen that girl yet, but somebody said that she lives near my school, so we went back out there and sent someone to her house, but they were told that she had gone home to the bush for the weekend. I tried calling the guardian who had signed her permission form, but either the person’s phone died right when I called, or they hung up on me and ignored my calls. So at 7am we hit the road, only one person short. This is actually the third time since being here that someone just hasn’t showed up the morning of a trip. And I really don’t understand it because these trips are literally once-in-a-lifetime events for these kids (some of my girls had only been through the towns we passed once or twice before, and this is significant since we were going south, ie toward Maputo). Last year one girl didn’t show up to go to the REDES conference and one girl didn’t show up to go to English Theater.
About 20 minutes out of town the driver pulled over to get “gas.” We have gas stations in this country. But another common form of filling your tank is at little makeshift places along the side of the road. When the large trucks carrying gas drive by on the highway, people bribe the drivers to stop and let them siphon gas out. Then they display this gas on the side of the road in old water or cooking oil containers. I had asked a male colleague of mine to arrange the bus we rented for this day, since he had arranged the one for our English Theater competition last year. He asked if he could come along, not to hang out with us, but to just spend the day in the town of Chidenguele, and then to be let off in Quissico on the way home, where there was a large festival going on. I let him come and he turned out to be a huge help all day. He yelled at the driver for me when he made this stop he should have done before picking us up. And when the driver demanded the second half of the payment in the morning (rather than at the end of the day) and I refused, my colleague called the bus owner and sorted things out.
The day went really well, and it taught me a lot about what we need to do to prepare for our next two mural paintings. We had 52 people there and I believe everyone got to do some painting, and the girls had a great time painting, painting themselves and each other, dancing, and spending the day together. We had lunch at a small place there (one of two restaurants in town) and—wait for it—they actually had all the food ready when we showed up! Two of Naomi’s girls gave a talk about having good relationships with other people, and then we got back to painting. We didn’t quite finish everything on Saturday, but Shannon and her girls will finish it up for us.
On the way home, late and in the dusk/dark, the driver pulled over to pee on the side of the road. All of the girls suddenly had to pee so I reluctantly let them off. Another bus coincidentally pulled up beside us for a pee stop too. Since all 15 of my girls had gone into the grass on the side of the road in front of the bus, I walked around to the driver’s side and turned off his headlights. Then I heard squeals. Turns out that one of the disgusting guys from the other bus had taken a picture of all of my girls peeing. I wasn’t too worried because it was far too dark for any picture to come out on a good camera, much less a phone camera, so I reminded the men what revolting dogs they are and herded the girls back onto the bus.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Ann, me, Erin and Buck at the first stop on the winery tour. Cape Town is far off in the background.


I just got a text from my host mom--Baby Anata is walking!

At Zavora, the closest beach to Inharrime, a man walks by with a very fresh swordfish on his head.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Last week Donna, Luis, Erin and I were sitting in Ann’s house when she came walking in holding a toddler who, upon seeing four white faces grabbed Ann’s neck in fright. “Who’s that kid?” Donna asked. “Remember at our supervisor’s conference how Ann’s counterpart was extremely pregnant? That’s the kid. THAT is how long we’ve been here!” I responded. (Supervisor’s conference was where we met our bosses and counterparts at a two-day conference after we were sworn in as volunteers and before we were delivered to our sites—so December ’09.) On Sunday I nudged Buck and indicated to the cute little toddler giggling and dancing around the church, “she was still a fetus when I got here.”
Buck left today, which I am bummed about. It was so wonderful having him here for three months, it will be tough adjusting to him being gone. But I feel lucky to have gotten to spend that time with him.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


At 7:30am this morning Ann, Erin and I had a meeting first with the head secretary of the administration of Inharrime district and the administrator of Inharrime (like our mayor). We showed up on time but the head secretary wasn’t there, so we went next door to the district direction of education. In order to take kids out of our district like I want to do this Saturday with my REDES group for our Inter-group Exchange, I need the district director of education’s permission. He gave me permission, but then explained what we would have to do first. He explained that the administrator is like the father to all of us here in the district, and you would never leave home without first saying goodbye to your father. So on Friday 12pm we (all 30 REDES girls I plan to take) needed to return to the administration (4k from our school and where a majority of the girls live) for a formal send-off from the administrator. I explained that almost all of my girls study in the afternoon, so he changed this time to 8am. He explained that it was a formality so all 30 girls didn’t necessarily need to come. I was thinking to myself that there was no way I would convince even five girls to walk that far at 8am for something they wouldn’t get credit for. I was hoping it wouldn’t be too awkward when the administrator and I had a one-on-one send-off. Then he explained that on Monday we would need to return for a welcome, because you never return home without greeting your father.
We returned to the administration and waited for a little while longer. We were told the head secretary wouldn’t be coming in today, but that hopefully the administrator would see us. But then I saw him walking home (he lives across the street), so we guessed that we wouldn’t be seeing him today. The lady apologetically informed us that he wasn’t working today, and that tomorrow he would be traveling through the weekend, perhaps we could come back on Monday. Ann, irritated, asked if we were actually going to get to meet with anyone on Monday, since we had been told to come in today by both people we were supposed to meet, only to find neither person was working. The lady asked us what we wanted to meet about anyway. We explained that we didn’t want anything! We had turned in a letter last week describing our project and it was them who wanted a meeting with us.
On my walk out of town an older lady greeted me and asked if I was going back to the sisters.’ “My house is right up here, let’s walk together!” I was in power-walking mode and trying to get back to school as quickly as possible—she was walking at Mozambican speed. But I slowed down and walked with her and her grandson and was glad I did. She asked if I knew Sister Lucilia. She talked a little bit about how wonderful a lady she is (which she is). Then she asked why I don’t come to town on bike, since I live so far away. I explained that I didn’t like having my bike in town, because I am always afraid it will get stolen. “Oh yes” she agreed “people here are always stealing bikes. I even heard that last year a bike got stolen WITHIN the sisters’!” I told her it was my bike. I was surprised that gossip had made it all the way into town. When we arrived at her house she invited me in for tea, but I actually had a meeting to get back to, so I told her I would come by next week.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

On July 4th (please note the color coordination in my outfit) we came across a woman selling very very fresh seafood in town. We bought 2 kilos of shrimp for 200 Meticais, about $6.


Last night I dreamt that I was back in America and what I was most excited about (other than seeing people, of course) was being able to see the Big Dipper again.
Today in a store I was receiving change and the woman didn’t have bills, so she gave me my change in coins. The man next to me asked if he could change a twenty for the two ten coins I had and I said yes. Only a couple second later did I process that he had asked me in Txopi, not Portuguese! Clearly this was a simple phrase, but I was still really proud of myself.
My extra-curriculars are slowly but surely getting off the ground. This morning I had about 50 students show up to the morning and afternoon sessions combined, so they will be divided into three groups that will focus on different themes: current events, peer-education, and learning skills (like sewing).

Monday, August 22, 2011


Today we had a fantastic REDES meeting! It's really one of the greatest feelings in the world. My REDES group has grown exponentially, we are now at 27 girls. Most REDES groups are 8-12 girls. It's overwhelming to say the least, but I suppose it's overwhelming in a good way.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Old Biscuit Mill in Cape Town, aka Heaven
Check out the REDES blog to read all about the 2011 Southern Regional Conference!

The view of Cape Town (and Table Mountain in the background) from the ferry out to Robben Island

The cable car coming up the side of Table Mountain


During our COS (Close of Service) conference we made a picture slideshow of everyone and Ann, Mike and I were in charge of the music. In a moment of cheesiness we added the “graduation song” by Vitamin C. One of the lines is “where you gonna be when you turn 25?” and Anna, Ann and I turned to each other and said wow, we turned 25 in Mozambique. I never in a million years would have imagined that. Last night we got a bunch of PCVs together to cook and play some Pictionary. And today we met up at a delicious restaurant to catch up on each other’s lives and some more Pictionary. It was a wonderful birthday, and a wonderful way to complete 25 years.
One of Ann’s REDES girls from the primary school (not the school where I live and have a REDES group, but the primary school in town, about 4k from where I live) went to the REDES conference. I didn’t know her before (though I know her family from around town and the store they own), but we just fell in love, she is a darling. She and another REDES girl stopped by Ann’s house on Friday (Ann’s REDES girls stop by her house all the time to color, look through her People magazines from America, or just hang out and listen to music) and when Ann told her it was my birthday she made me a birthday card and then also called me today to wish me happy birthday. It made my day!
At lunch today we were all enjoying fries when Jasmin (our new sitemate) looked down at her ketchup and said “oh my gosh is that a bug?” She looked like she was going to throw up and got up quickly and went to the bathroom. Ann and Angela shrugged and reached over and each took a fry saying “she isn’t going to eat them anymore, right?” Jasmin was the only person at lunch from the newest PCV group (they arrived in Mozambique 11 weeks ago). There was probably a time when the rest of us would have been bothered by a bug in our food, but one, two and three years later (Becky, a third year extendee was at lunch also) it took us a second to remember why anyone would be bothered by it.
The other day Buck said something and I laughed and said, “that’s definitely not a word!” He disputed, so I told him I would bet him $5, or 150 Meticais. I later won the bet, so I excitedly said “sweet! I can get a Big Mac meal when I go back to America!” But Jasmin, fresh out of America only 11 weeks ago, said “actually you couldn’t get a whole meal for only $5 anymore unfortunately.” “Well here in Mozambique you could 75 loaves of bread instead!” Buck offered. (Bread here is sold in hamburger bun-size loaves for 2 Meticais each.) Wow, such a different life.

The view from the top of Table Mountain


Today I was talking to four of my REDES girls who showed up early to our meeting. I found out that one of my girls lives completely by herself. She is 15 years old! This is not too that strange, many students commute to our community to attend school from out in the bush where they live. But often they live with aunts and uncles or some sort of other extended family. But I learned that she lives alone and doesn’t have any neighbors who live very close. The thought just terrifies me. Apparently last year she lived with her brother, but he doesn’t study anymore, so he’s back at home with their dad (their mother passed away). Then I found out that she has 5 older brothers who don’t have jobs, but live at home. I asked why none of them come to live with her in the town, since it would be easier for them to find employment here anyway. She said they can’t. I couldn’t get a reason out of her, I think they just can’t be bothered. It makes my blood boil. What kind of brother leaves his younger sister to live alone and probably be raped? Maybe not forcefully, but eventually people will find out that she is alone there and start paying her visits, and what can a 15 year old say to a man who comes to her house when she is alone? And the three other girls, two sisters and a cousin, live with their three older sisters. Just the six of them girls in a house where the oldest is 19 years old.

Buck, me, Ann and Erin on top of Table Mountain in Cape Town

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Our new sitemate Jasmin gets here tomorrow. Welcome Jasmin! This year the annual calendar changed from one incoming group of volunteers (education and health sectors together) to two groups, education arriving in October (like I did) and health arriving in June. Thus, all health sites that were to be replaced (like Ann’s) had two options: not be replaced for 9 months, or have two volunteers overlap for 3 months. So the next three months will be a little cozy for both Jasmin and Ann in their house, and it will be a little difficult for both of them to find work with their organizations. Luckily, Ann has her four REDES groups and her JOMA group, and she will start coming out to my school to help with the extra-curricular activities I am running.

Monday, August 15, 2011


On Friday afternoon I ran into a couple of my (former) students. “Teacher, you are here! Why didn’t you come to class?” I was puzzled, I had been told by my director and pedagogical director that I shouldn’t continue teaching because the new teacher would be teaching my lessons. Turns out nobody had appeared to teach the lessons. I was frustrated because I could have continued teaching until the new teacher actually came, since I had already planned those lessons when I thought I would be giving them. But I had been told to stop teaching. I talked to Mary, my predecessor, and found out that the same thing happened to her when she was here. That made me feel a little better because, although I am excited for the opportunity I am being given, I was feeling depressed about not teaching anymore. Rather, that my school might have thought I shouldn’t be teaching anymore. I turned in a possible schedule to my pedagogical director on Thursday in hopes that he would tell me what he liked or didn’t like about it, and then I could revise. But when I stopped by his office last week he hadn’t had time to look at it yet. This morning I dropped in and asked how he was doing. He responded “more or less…because I lost my glasses so I can’t see anything or do any work until I get new ones.”
My REDES groups have three Inter-group Exchanges coming up in the next 2 months. Yikes. That’s a lot of work for me. But it will worth it for the girls, I just have to keep reminding myself that. In all three we hope to paint murals depicting the contributions of women in Mozambican history/society, so I have been busy creating designs. Ann and I submitted a letter to the administration this morning but they wouldn’t accept it because it was addressed to the administration with attention to the administrator, rather than being directly addressed to the administrator, because we needed to include a request in the subject line, rather than just a description, because we had the date written at the top and the bottom of the page, rather than just at the bottom, and because we had the administrator’s name written on the left-hand side, rather than on the right. I edited the letter, so hopefully they will accept this one. Naomi, another PCV went to Xai-Xai today to buy paint supplies for the Inter-group Exchange we have coming up on the 27th. Yesterday I wrote her a REDES check so that she wouldn’t have to front the cash for the supplies. But today the Barclays Bank in Xai-Xai isn’t making deposits. Someday, everything in America will seem so simple.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Please check out the REDES Flickr page (address to the right) for tons of great pictures from the conference (and hopefully from the other two conferences too soon). And if you’re on Facebook check out the REDES page!

Thank You Barra Lodge

Thank you Barra Resorts for a wonderful week at Barra Lodge for all the 2011 Southern Regional REDES Conference participants. Barra Lodge has a history of commitment to the local community and to Mozambique and has been a great friend to REDES. Thank you Barra Lodge for helping us to empower the women and girls of Mozambique, fight for gender equality in Mozambique, and educate tomorrow’s leaders! I recommend Barra Lodge to anyone passing through the area, you can check them out at

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


We (four of us PCVs who administratively ran the REDES conference) arrived in Inhambane a day early to make sure everything was in order and to run last-minute errands. One thing we had to do was pick up many many gallons of water—enough for 100 people for 5 days. Inhambane is an incredible touristy town, so I hate walking into the bus and taxi area where everyone immediately assumes you’re a tourist, that you are going to Tofo beach, and that they can rip you off. We needed to hire a taxi in order to transport all the water we were buying, but hiring a taxi just kills me—it’s the ultimate sign of being a tourist and guarantees that people will try to rip you off. The first taxi driver who walked over showed us his price list to demonstrate that he wasn’t ripping us off, so we figured why not? He also spoke to us in Portuguese, rather than English which we appreciated. This taxi driver ended up being a godsend throughout the week. Since I had to run errands in Inhambane city almost every day, we called him often and he was a great resource. He knew where to go to get things, and made sure that I wasn’t ripped off. When I wanted to buy phone credits he only let me buy them from one boy he knows and told me to call him if they didn’t work. (Recently there have been a lot of cases of scams with these phone credits. People sell things that aren’t actually phone credits, so it’s best to stand there with the person and punch the code in before you pay them.)
On one ride back he was talking to me about where I lived and worked. He told me that his mother and sister live in Inharrime and his sister goes to my school. I asked what grade she is in. “Well. She was in…10th grade last year…and she passed. So I guess she has to be in 11th grade now.” I teach 11th grade, so I asked her name. He thought for a while and then finally admitted he couldn’t remember her name. “It’s hard, you see, because in house I always call her by her nickname” (It is very common here for someone to have a school name that they are called at school, and a house name that they are called by family and neighbors). “I’ll think of it…I just need a minute. It’s hard to keep track, you see, because I have 36 siblings.” When I told him that I have only one brother he was equally blown away. He explained that his mother alone had 13 kids. He did remember his sister’s name eventually.
Seeing all the spirited, animated girls at the REDES conference was such a treat. Not all the women here in Mozambique are like that. I think that a certain type of girl generally joins REDES, and then girls with leadership potential are chosen to go to the conference, so we definitely see the best and the brightest at the conferences. I get so frustrated sometimes by the way women are treated here, and the submissiveness they display in letting themselves be treated like that. But seeing the girls at the conference reminds me that little by little things are changing. And I know that these girls are going to be okay in life. As long as they don’t get pregnant. The thought terrifies me.


My director called me away from English Club to talk to me today. She explained that there are teachers who want more hours (because they get paid based on the number of hours they teach), thus they were taking my two classes and giving them to these teachers. She explained that for this last trimester, I wouldn’t be teaching actual classes, but would be in charge of running extra-curriculars at the school, with a focus on activities geared toward girls. She wants me to expand upon the REDES group and English Club that I already do. I can’t tell if I’m being punished or not, but I guess it doesn’t matter, what’s important is that I really take advantage of this great opportunity and try to impact a few students’ lives. Since I have only one trimester to do this, I plan to run many mini-workshops over the course of a week. I am trying to collect ideas from PCV colleagues, but I could always use more suggestions!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

After the earring-making session, the girls discussed the logistics and necessary steps to undertaking an income-generation project.

The girls proudly displaying their new earrings

During an earring-making session at the REDES conference

note: the girl on the far left is standing on her hands

During a game of ultimate frisbee on the beach at the REDES conference

Monday, August 8, 2011

The REDES Conference!

The 2011 Southern Region REDES (Rapariga em Desenvolvimento, Educação e Saúde—Girls in Development, Education and Health) Conference officially ended yesterday, and this everyone traveled home. Five full days of conference and two travel days, one on each end. Wow, what a ridiculous and tiring week. At one point Anna sat down next to me and said “this conference is definitely not as fulfilling to run as it is to participate in!” But the girls had an awesome time and learned a ton, thus the conference was a success.
I feel like I should thank and apologize to anyone I ever knew who ran a camp. Or my boarding school, for that matter. When my patience was being tried, I kept reminding myself what a pain I was at 16 years old. And when I got really annoyed when we found out some girls had snuck out of their cabins at night, I remembered that I had done the same thing when I was their age. Payback sucks.
Since I am REDES Financial Director, I was in charge of all logistics for the conference too. This meant everything from making sure the right number of plates were served on time for meals, to getting enough chairs in our conference room. This would normally be quite a task, but this week had all sorts of surprises in store for me! I never got to sit through an entire session all week, I was either running errands or something would come up while I was in the conference room.
The week in review. One woman arrived with her baby on her back—the rules are explicit, no babies. In past years PCVs allowed women to bring babies but learned that this was a headache and a distraction. In addition to not wanting the baby at the conference, two other women (one of whom has been with the REDES Project for many years) weren’t coming to the conference this year because they were still nursing, so there was no way we could make an exception for this woman. Since people had cancelled last-minute, we had an extra cabin and she was able to sleep there that night. The next morning we sent her home and the plan was for her to leave the child with family and then come back, but we never saw her again. She also accidentally took the room key with her which meant that we couldn’t use that room for the rest of the week and we should have had to pay for the key (places here don’t use magnetic cards like in America, this key was the really old-fashioned type with a round stem and the teeth part sticking out) but Barra Lodge was too nice to charge us for it.
Two girls had health issues that they didn’t share with anyone prior to the conference, probably for fear they wouldn’t be able to come. One girl has gastro-intestinal problems and can’t eat anything cooked in oil. Everything in Mozambique is cooked in oil. She spent almost the entire week in bed and missed probably 85% of the sessions. The other girl had a tooth ache that was so bad she started crying, so we sent her home to have it taken care of. This meant me going into Inhambane City (about 30k away and part of that on unpaved road. I ended up having to go to Inhambane 4 of the 5 conference days which sucked) with her, taking the boat across the bay to Maxixe, then getting her on the chapa to go home, and then returning.
Two Facilitators (Facilitators are Mozambican women who run REDES groups, either alone or with a PCV) who were at the conference had deaths in their families and had to leave early (and one woman was too distraught to travel alone, so another Facilitator left with her). This involved organizing additional transport (because normally all Maputo province people traveled together on the same rented bus, all Gaza province people traveled on the same rented bus, etc) for them to return, and gathering up all their supplies and giving them their pictures and certificates before they left. And making sure we had their room keys!
Alice, our National Public Relations Director, had a severe allergic reaction starting the first day of the conference. Since it didn’t get better after a few days and we had no idea what was causing it, she had to leave the conference to go first to the hospital in Inhambane, and then fly down to Maputo to have tests run. Another PCV got really sick and went home on day 4 of the conference.
Since 2006, the annual REDES conferences have always had a large range in ages of the participants. In the past few years REDES groups have been created in primary schools too, as opposed to only secondary schools in the past, lowering the average age of participants a bit. This year at our conferences we divided girls into groups by age, in order to make discussions and sessions more age-appropriate and specific. So while there have always been 11, 12, and 13 year old girls at conferences before, the age gap (the oldest participant at our conference this year was 23) seemed more apparent this year with age divisions. One of the sessions was about condom use and included a condom demonstration. When the condom demonstration started, one of the Mozambican women who has been with REDES for years and was one of the conference coordinators since the beginning stood up, interrupted the session, and removed all of the younger girls, saying the information wasn’t appropriate for them. One of the other PCVs came over and told three of us PCVs who were running the conference. We rushed outside and confronted these two women (Mozambican Facilitators who came to both conference planning meetings this year, were two of the conference coordinators, and have been with REDES for years). A fairly loud argument ensued, which is unfortunate because we were outside and in front of the girls. It ended with me pissing them off by telling them that we could have a discussion later, but right then the girls were going to re-enter the conference room. It’s a tough situation. They (note: not all the Mozambican women) believe that by teaching condom use to young girls, we are promoting sex and causing younger girls to have sex. We (the PCVs and some of the Facilitators) believe that we need to give the girls the knowledge and skills so that, when they decide to have sex, they are prepared to do it safely. This discussion is repeated everywhere in the world and I don’t think anyone has ever reached an agreement. One PCV wisely commented that, if we truly want REDES to become sustainable and a Mozambican project, we can’t pick and choose when we want to listen to the Mozambican women we work with. She is absolutely right. I don’t know what to do. We don’t want to be imperialistic and imposing with our beliefs and practices, but at the same time, the reason we are here is to implement change. Statistically, HIV rates begin to rise again in girls beginning at age 10. This means that nationally, girls are beginning to have sex at age 10, which is simply terrifying. Knowing that, I truly believe that it is my duty and responsibility to teach these girls how to protect themselves if they have sex, because they aren’t going to learn it anywhere else. I tried to stress the other side of the argument that we DON’T want our 11 year olds having sex and I wish we didn’t have to teach condom use to such young girls, but the numbers show that it’s necessary.
One day I went into the city to print pictures for all conference participants and Facilitators (each person was part of a “color group,” so they received a picture of their color group). I left Barra Lodge at 8am and was expecting to be back before lunch. Turns out the entire city of Inhambane was out of photo paper, so I had to take the boat across the bay (again. Each ride across takes 20-30 minutes, depending on how far out the tide is) to have the pictures printed in Maxixe. While in line in the photo place, a man walked up next to me. When I informed him that he was going to wait just like all the rest of us, he looked at me and the people behind me and said “oh, are you in line?” “No, we’re just hanging out” I responded. He gave me a puzzled look, but a few people behind me giggled. Then I got to the front of the line, there was a woman who had been standing there for a while, so I didn’t hand the guy working my flash drive, but indicated for her to go first. She didn’t do anything, so the guy behind me handed his flash drive to the worker. I grabbed it out of the worker’s hand and returned it, telling the woman to go first. She finally spoke up and explained that she was waiting for something else, during which time the guy behind me handed his flash back to the worker. I grabbed it out of the workers hand for a second time and gave it back to the man behind me. After returning to the conference many hours later from what I had thought would be a quick errand, Joyce met me at the door and I said “tell me something good about the conference!” She hesitated for a second before telling me that the girls were loving it and the sessions were going well. Two phones had been stolen that day and the woman had found out her grandfather had died.
One day I was sitting at “our table” doing administrative work when another PCV came in and said “umm, there are two boys taking pictures of our girls at the pool and I told them to leave but they’re still there.” I went outside and yelled at them while I was walking toward them. They probably thought I was joking until I grabbed both of them by the collars and marched them out of the lodge. When we reached the edge of the lodge I gave them both a slap on their heads and reprimanded them loudly. They ended up going to sit at the lodge beach bar, close to another group of girls who were outside for an earring-making session. I couldn’t make them leave there, but I took comfort in the fact that they were paying for overpriced beer just to be creeps.
We had only two people cancel for sessions during the week, which I suppose isn’t too bad for 5 days. For one, we had enough time to call someone to replace her, but the other session was cancelled the night before, so we had to hurriedly create a session from scratch.
There was a South African boy staying at the lodge who made friends with some of our girls. Normally I wouldn’t want a 17 year old boy hanging out with our girls, but I was just so thrilled that he wasn’t racist that I let it be. He had shaggy hair so all the girls called him Justin Bieber.
Those were all the things I had to deal with. But from the outside, from the girls’ and Facilitators’ points of view, the conference was fantastic. It was great to see all of them having such a great time and learning so much.
The Mozambique TV station showed up to the beginning of the conference and our closing ceremonies, interviewing girls, Facilitators and PCVs both times. Great press for REDES!
The Honorable Leslie V. Rowe, Ambassador to the United States, came to the opening ceremonies of the conference. She was wonderful and the girls loved her! She explained what an ambassador is and does, which is good because I don’t think most of the girls knew. She also talked about her educational background and stressed how important it is to pursue an education and how hard she worked to get where she is now. I think it’s awesome for the girls for such an important figure would come to their conference, reminding them that yes they really do matter. A lot.


Yesterday baby Anata turned 1!
Is it really August already? We—Moz 15—just finished our COS (Close Of Service) conference since we have been here for 22 months now and most of us are getting ready to leave soon. However I am not. I had applied for two extension positions and had the fortune of getting almost exactly what I wanted. I will no longer be teaching or living in Inharrime, but I will be living close enough to visit them sometimes. I will actually be living in Namaacha (with Anna, woot woot!), where we stayed for three months during our pre-service training, and my house is actually a couple hundred yards from where my host mom and brother, their boyfriend/father, and baby Anata live!
I will be working 50% of the time as the Malaria Activities Promoter and 50% of the time as the HIV&AIDS and Youth Programs Integration Coordinator. As Malaria Activities Promoter my role will be creating and promoting malaria activities by PCVs in both the education and health sectors, indentifying possible NGO partners for PCVs, keeping all staff and PCVs updated on malaria-related events or information, and providing programmatic support to PCVs implementing malaria activities. Since I plan to apply to public health (dual degrees with business) programs after I finish here, this will be an invaluable learning opportunity and experience for me. In the north of Mozambique where the HIV rate is lower, malaria is the number one killer. In the south of Mozambique HIV is probably the number 1 killer, but the fact is that HIV doesn’t kill, it weakens the person’s immune system so that other diseases can enter and kill the person, thus malaria is recorded as killing the greatest number of people. This project will be an interesting change of focus, shifting from the HIV-prevention work I have focused on the past two years in my extra-curricular clubs.
For the HIV&AIDS and youth projects position, my primary responsibility will be evaluating the effectiveness of the secondary projects that PCVs run here (REDES, JOMA (a co-ed version youth club with similar structures and goals as REDES), Science Fair, Future Business Leaders of Mozambique, and English Theater/Club, since all of these projects are funded by HIV-prevention money (PEPFAR—the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief…I think/hope). I will propose improvements to these programs, especially in the areas of behavior change, and research and introduce ideas from projects being implemented elsewhere. I am looking forward to this work and to living with Anna, who is extending to work with all Youth Projects, overseeing their organizational development, and helping create better and more sustainable organization structures and practices for the future.
The REDES conference starts tomorrow. The past couple weeks have been a bit of a headache getting all the supplies gathers, t-shirts made, welcome books and manuals printed, and travel arranged. Alice greeted me at the COS conference by saying “I love you, but I want to kill you for leaving the country the week before the REDES conference!” But once the conference starts things should go smoothly hopefully!


Cape Town is as great as everyone says. I have listened to people rave about it for almost two years now, and when something like that happens you almost expect to be let down by finding out yourself—surely it’s been built up too much and won’t measure up to all the hype. But it’s gorgeous, friendly, interesting, safe, and gorgeous. Ann and I went to take the GMAT which is not offered in Maputo, only Johannesburg and Cape Town. Since Johannesburg is off-limits for PCVs except when we are in transit, we would have had to travel in the day before or of the test, and then leave immediately after. Since this test will have a large impact on the rest of our lives, we decided we didn’t want to be traveling, stressed, and tired when we took it, so we planned a trip to Cape Town!
The first three days we (Ann, Erin, Buck, myself) stayed in a self-catering apartment (thanks to the generosity of family back home) to ensure we would be sleeping well. Ann and I would go running in the morning and then study in the apartment for the rest of the day while Buck and Erin went wandering around Cape Town. The only other standardized tests I have ever taken were the SAT and ACT. This was very different! We were each brought in individually to have the rules explained. We were monitored from three different places in the room. Our picture was taken and our palms were scanned three times. Then, if we wanted to take our two allotted 8-minute breaks, we had to scan our palms to sign in and out each time. Crazy. The exam went well and now it’s OVER, so I can return to reading books, playing with the girls from the orphanage, and playing guitar without feeling guilty!
While in Cape Town we went to the top of Table Mountain, we did the Robben Island tour, we did a winery tour, and we went to the District 6 museum, but our main focus of the trip was eating good food! We had Korean, Thai, Sushi, Italian, and Japanese (other than sushi). We had Belgian beer on tap. And we went to the supermarket and got things we haven’t seen in months (maybe even 21) like feta cheese, broccoli, sweet bell peppers, and cherry tomatoes and we made the most delicious salads we’ve ever tasted. On Saturday we went to the Old Biscuit Mill which is definitely what Heaven must be like: stall after stall of delicious food ranging from pestos to smoked salmon salads to crepes to fresh breads to quiches to fresh cheeses to curries.
After the GMAT we moved to Penthouse on Long backpackers—my favorite hostel I’ve ever stayed at and I recommend it to anyone headed to Cape Town. There we met two Peace Corps Cameroon guys traveling and two Harvard seniors volunteering SA for the summer. They were a lot of fun, it was great to meet other interesting Americans, and since three of the guys were a Korean and two Chinese, I was able to convince the group to eat as much Asian food as I wanted to eat (that never happens)!
I think one of the reasons people love Cape Town so much is the remarkable physical beauty of it. Table Mountain is so strange looking, yet stunning and visible from everywhere in the city. The bay is beautiful and you can see Robben Island in the distance. The city is spread out, so that downtown doesn’t feel cluttered at all. And the architecture is striking.