Things have been creeping along slowly here in Namaacha with my new job (and actually Anna’s too). When I returned from Senegal I sent to my bosses an action plan that outlines what I hoped to do this year. Peace Corps Mozambique has been hit by one crisis after another recently, so the office has been quite busy dealing with all of these. First there was the horrifically tragic accident and that was followed by many volunteers requesting to move sites and some volunteers being evacuated back to the states for medical leave of up to 45 days and they haven’t yet decided if they will return. Then Mozambique was hit by two cyclones in January, requiring the evacuation of some PCVs. I haven’t heard of any volunteer’s houses being destroyed, but I know that there was a fair amount destruction, including a REDES group’s shop that they had constructed when they won the country’s Future Business Leader’s contest. Those kinds of things are the hardest to hear. We were threatened by another cyclone last week, but luckily it changed course and never actually hit Mozambique. And last week a few men with machetes broke into a PCV’s house where four PCVs were and stole things and hit one of the boys a few times with their machetes. In situations like these it is protocol for the PCV to go on Post-Exposure Prophylaxis, in case of exposure to HIV from the cuts. It was probably a good thing too, because they heard that these men had hit a number of other houses in that night, and there could have been blood from other people on the machetes. So, needless to say, the Peace Corps staff in Mozambique has had its hands full without me to worry about. I felt that I should wait until I had their approval and support before I moved forward with my action plan, so I haven’t done much while I waited until they had time to spare to deal with me.
I was able to meet with them this morning, which was great. They were supportive of my plans, I was only cautioned not to try to bite off more than I could chew. There are still some things we didn’t have time to address that day, so we’ll need to have some follow up meetings next week, but it was a good start. One big change following this meeting though—once reviewing all of the work my malaria position will entail this year, we decided that I will be 100% Malaria Activities Coordinator now, rather than splitting my time 50/50 with the role of reviewing the HIV-prevention curriculum of the youth groups in Mozambique. I am still interested in this work, but my role in malaria activities is much more pressing. Also, I am currently not remotely qualified to be evaluating the efficacy of HIV-prevention curriculum and activities—I would need to do a lot of reading and studying of behavior change theory first. This afternoon I met with the representative from the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), who I will be working with primarily this year as a liaison between them and Peace Corps—both the administration and volunteers. There are still some questions from both Peace Corps and PMI about how my position will function this year, mostly in regards to funding, but hopefully we will be able to answer these in next week’s meetings.
And great news, I finally have a user login so I am now able to use the computers in the office here in Namaacha.