Last week 8 PCVs were staying together at a colleague’s house when three men with machetes broke in and demanded to be given all money and valuables. One male PCV was injured when he was hit across the back by the broad side of the machete, leaving a large welt. Reports were filed with the police and a guard was hired to make the house safer. Four nights later four PCVs (two who were there the first night) were staying in this same house because it’s near an airport and they were traveling. The same three men waited for the exact moment when the door wasn’t fully locked, knocked out the guard, broke in again wielding their machetes and took all valuables and money again. A situation like this is particularly terrifying because it’s clear that in both situations these men were watching these PCVs for a while, waiting for the opportune moment to break in. Even more terrifying is how brazen they were, marching into a house with multiple male PCVs, and then returning a few days later. It was an incredibly traumatic experience for these PCVs and we are all doing what we can to support them.
Definitely not the most terrible effect of these events, but the one most pertinent to my life was that the REDES central region checkbook was stolen, including three unused checks inside. As the men were leaving it appeared they rifled through the bag, discarding what they didn’t want, thus many of our REDES receipts were collected on the side of the road, dirty and out of order. I went to the bank immediately that morning to cancel the stolen checks. We weren’t too certain that these guys would know what to do with a blank check, but we were nervous since they had stolen the entire book which was full of examples of how to fill one out and the necessary signature. Since the entire book had been stolen we didn’t know the numbers of the stolen checks, but the lady was sympathetic and helpful and, using the amount of the last check from that book we had written, was able to figure out the numbers of the checks that were stolen. I also attempted to flag the stolen checks so that, if these guys tried to cash one of them we would hopefully find out their names. The people at the bank didn’t seem to understand exactly what I was attempting to do, and it was made even more complicated by the fact that I was in Maputo, but the checks were stolen in a different city and would probably be cashed there. By the end I had convinced the man, but we’ll see if the system is good enough to notify someone in Maputo when a marked check is cashed.