I am in Maputo now, following a Friday session about malaria and weekend REDES (Girls in Development, Education, and Health) meetings. This past week was the Midservice Conference for Moz 15 (the group behind me) because they recently completed their first year of service. Friday morning they had a malaria information session and I followed it with an explanation of what my role would be this year and to lead a brainstorming session of malaria activities PCVs could do this year. It was fun getting to see them again, some of them (who live in the north) I hadn’t seen in over a year. And I got to see Erin and catch up with her, her mother had visited in December while I was gone, and to hear about how Inharrime is doing (I hope I get back there soon!).
One volunteer came up to me and asked if I could take something back to Namaacha to give her host family. I said of course so she gave me a sheepish smile and said, “it’s my hair…but I double-bagged it!” People here often braid people’s hair into their own for more life-like extensions. I routinely get asked for my hair. This PCV had just cut her hair short and saved the long braid to give to her host mom and sisters.
Anna and I are both working with what we call the PCV secondary projects this year: REDES, the co-ed youth group, English Theater, Science Fair, and Future Business Leaders. Anna is working with the national coordinators of all of them to try to make them more sustainable and functional as organizations. My role is to evaluate their curriculum and activities and try to improve them so that they are more effective at preventing HIV, since 100% of the funding comes from HIV/AIDS prevention money. Saturday and Sunday Anna and I sat in on the REDES planning meeting. It’s difficult but we are trying to approach these meetings from the point of view of our new jobs, not the ones we used to have, and understand that it’s not our group to run anymore. We feel a little uncomfortable, we don’t want to step on their toes since we were the two who ran REDES last year.