Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Back after spending the weekend in Swaziland for the Bushfire music festival. We had a wonderful time (there were about 25 PCVs from Mozambique there), the music was good, the food was good, and many of us got fun souvenirs! Yesterday crossing the border back into Mozambique I walked up to the three men checking passports of people leaving Swaziland. “I want to marry you!” one of them yelled at me. “No.” “No?” “No,” I responded again. “You are married already?” “No.” “Not yet?” he asked. “A few more guys like you and not ever” I muttered. “What?” I just shook my head and took my passport back.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


My job has really taken off recently, so I have been extremely busy, but it’s a good kind of busy doing things I love! This past week the PMI (President’s Malaria Initiative) team from headquarters in DC has been here to plan and write the MOP (Malaria Operational Plan) for FY 2013. I went to the Culver Academies for high school which is a military school on the boys’ side, and I thought we used a lot of acronyms then. But this new world I’m working in combines government employees, malaria specialists, and budgets—and suddenly some sentences are more acronyms and specialized terms than other words! I got to sit in on the meeting where each of the PMI-supported implementing partners in Mozambique presented their work during the past fiscal year. Their presentations included sentences like “the promotion of LLINs in partnership with PSI and SDSMAS” and “run capacity assessments with DEPROS and NCP staff in SBCC” or “gap between ANC and IPTp rates, largely due to stockouts and poor supply chain management.” Interestingly, I know what all of those sentences mean, though I wouldn’t have a few months ago. It’s a whole new world with its own language. Anna has been gone for about a month doing site visits for her position, she just returned home today! I haven’t been at home much either, between the PIRCOM training and meetings in Maputo, but it’s nice to have her back. And I don’t really like being in the house alone. It’s a really loud house—we have a tree that leans over the house and scrapes along the tin roof when the wind moves it. One night while I was alone I made the mistake of watching a CSI-like show right before bed. It was a windy night and at 2:30am I woke up convinced that there was someone on our roof. The tree was making a racket on the roof and also setting off the motion-activated light we have on our latrine. So at 2:30am I found myself standing in the middle of our common room with my rape whistle in one hand and large knife in the other muttering “okay, come and get me you bastards.” Eventually I convinced myself it was just the wind and I went back to bed. So yes, it’s nice to have Anna back. All the neighborhood kids know my name now. Actually sometimes it’s closer to “Ana” than “Anata” but I’ll take what I can get—at least it’s not “mulungu.” The other morning one of the neighbor boys (one of the ones who followed Anna and me down the road a few months back) came running up to me when I returned from my morning run. As he came tottering in, arms outstretched for the hug, I saw the huge glob of snot under his nose, pretty typical of any kid under 5 here. So as I happily received my first hug from a neighborhood kid, I tried to show affection while preventing his face from actually touching me. I ran into Irmã Ana (who was a sister in Inharrime the past two years and now lives with the sisters here in Namaacha) last night. Tomorrow, May 24th, is Holy Mary day, so the sisters are preparing a celebration at their school here in Namaacha. She was returning from my neighborhood with a class of students from the secondary school. To commemorate Holy Mary day each class did some sort of community service project—this class was returning from an elderly woman’s house where they had repaired her roof and done yardwork. She excitedly told me about another class in which one girl was having an operation, so the class was surprising her with a wheelchair they had fundraised for.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

On my way home from Maputo yesterday


This morning I returned from buying energy and some food and as I approached my gate a few of the neighborhood kids ran up chanting “it’s big-sister Anata, it is, it is!” It was the first time they have ever done that, it was a really nice feeling. My job is going really well now which is awesome, but means I am busy as ever!


Recently I caught a chapa in Maputo and the driver was hitting on me. Nothing new there (not because he thought I was attractive, but because he was dazzled by how white my skin was), and I brushed him off. The next day I caught the same chapa again so I avoided eye contact. Then later that day I caught the same chapa AGAIN and laughed because the only open seat was next to the driver. “You know, I’m not a witchdoctor” he said “this must be fate.” I just laughed because I couldn’t honestly think of a good argument. I was about to get onto a chapa on a crowded Maputo corner when I heard “mana Anata!” It was Sandra, one of the girls who had been living with the sisters and training to be a sister in Inharrime the past two years! We made plans to meet up next week, since it was late in the day and I was worried another chapa might not come along soon. One of the funny things about Mozambique—it’s a huge country with 22 million people but with only one national highway and a few major roads in the capital, you run into people all the time, or will be driving down the highway and pass a car and say “oh, I know them!” This week I was up in Massinga, Inhambane province attending a training about malaria put on by PIRCOM (Programa Inter-Religioso Contra a Malária). Read about it and see pictures at http://stompoutmalaria-mozambique.tumblr.com/!

If you can't beat them, join them

I felt bad for the dog that the frogs kept sitting in his water dish, so I put out a tray of water for them. I've seen up to four frogs lounging or swimming around in the water.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

For fun....

Apologies, I have been on the road to a fantastic malaria training (I will post a description) and on top of that I am extremely busy! Here are some pictures to make up for my lack of writing.
Let's call this Mozambican sledding. The kids cut old broken containers (the yellow thing is a 25 liter container that everyone here uses for collecting, carrying, and storing water), attach ropes as as such, and pull each other down hills. As you might imagine, this makes a terrible racket. I wish they could just once experience how fun sledding is when one person doesn't have to pull the other other rocks and holes.
This Peace Corps promotional poster hangs in our office in Maputo. The sentiment of the poster is good--I hope it reached some people back in the states. Over here, however, all of us education PCVs get a good laugh out of it. If you're a teacher you may have noticed it already too. Check out the middle kid--he's totally cheating.
Contrary to what I thought before joining Peace Corps, my service has not included a lot of sitting in my hut trying to pass the time. I am extremely busy this year with what is basically an administrative job. I was extremely busy the last two years teaching a normal teaching load and managing all my extra-curricular clubs as well. However, PCVs still end up with time we didn't have in the states: inside our houses at sundown, waiting for the water to boil for our baths, waiting to fill every container we have when the water only comes out every few days. So during these times we pick up some fun new hobbies. Micah, another PCV, made this woman and her large mortar and pestel, I made her clothing.

Saturday, May 5, 2012


The World Malaria Day celebration last weekend just happened to be about 40k from Inharrime (my old site), so I got to go spend time with my girls and those wonderful sisters again, which is always fantastic. I spent a morning down at the school visiting English students from last year who are now in 12th grade, planning for their futures, and into things like Facebook. And my math students from my first year who used to be little kiddies and are now in 10th grade. My REDES (Rapariga em Desenvolvimento, Educação e Saúde—Girls in Development, Education, and Health) girls are among these. I was talking to them because they earned a lot of money during the past two years with our earring making/selling income generation project. We had talked about getting something made for every member of the group, but I didn’t have time before I left last year. On this day they were throwing around the idea of getting hats made, since they already had a few t-shirts from other REDES events we had during the past two years. When I asked what they wanted on the hats they enthusiastically replied “a picture of you and then written ‘REDES of Inharrime!’” I laughed because they have said this multiple times before on different occasions. We threw around a few other ideas and I kept running different design ideas by them (the REDES logo, a picture of all of us, another design). They continued to responding that they wanted a picture of me on whatever they got. Eventually I told them to be serious, they couldn’t get my picture put on anything. To which one clever girl responded “but teacher Anata, you always teach us to stand up for ourselves and say what we want and you tell us that you will help us achieve our goals. Well, what we want is for your picture on our shirt and now you tell us we can’t do that.” I couldn’t argue with that one. So shortly there will be a bunch of t-shirts in Mozambique with my face on them…I don’t even want to know who will end up wearing some of them. After World Malaria Day (WMD, as it is known in some circles) I headed up to Vilanculos to spend the weekend at the beach with some other PCVs. We had a great time, but the excitement of the weekend unfortunately coincided with me already getting sick, so I lost my voice Saturday-Tuesday. And losing your voice in Mozambique is WAY less fun than in America. Long story short: everyone thinks you’re super weird. I can see them all thinking “why is this weird white girl whispering at me.” I was actually told to “speak well” by one young girl and asked “why are you talking so strangely?” by another teenager. And on chapas I would have to ask my neighbor to call out my stops for me.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Mosquito Piñata!

I wanted to teach the neighborhood kids about malaria for malaria awareness month and in preparation for World Malaria Day last Wednesday, April 25th. Anna and I also wanted to interact with the neighborhood kids in a way that wasn’t us yelling at them for provoking our dog. So a few weeks ago I lovingly created a bright blue (we had food coloring lying around the house, why not?) paper mache mosquito piñata, complete with wings, legs, a large stinger, and candy inside. Last Monday afternoon, as a lead-up to World Malaria Day, Anna and I gathered the neighborhood kids outside our front gate. We showed them the mosquito and promised that it was full of candy that they would receive at the end (yep, I’m not above bribery). I talked to them about malaria transmission, prevention, symptoms, and treatment, and we reviewed each of these points a few times. Each time a neighbor would walk over and ask what was going on I would ask the kids to explain to them. And happily a few of them would excitedly yell something about malaria or mosquitoes.
A few of the older kids (probably 4-6 grade) had already learned some of the basics, like that mosquitoes transmit malaria, that mosquitoes lay their eggs in water, or that you can protect yourself by sleeping under a bed net. What surprised me was that even the kids who knew this much couldn’t name the symptoms of malaria. Honestly I’m not sure what means. Is it a classic case of aid in developing countries: bombard people with marginally useful information (for example, telling people to “always use their mosquito net” is only useful when every person has a bed net) but not tell people who malaria actually looks or feels like? (I have been told that you literally feel like you’ve been hit by a bus when you have malaria, your body aches and you can’t move, in addition to the nausea and headaches. Put this in contrast with the common PCV complaint that any runny nose or indigestion in Mozambique might be called “malaria” by our colleagues and friends.)
After I made the kids repeat a few malaria basics enough times that I was satisfied they would remember even if they didn’t want to, the fun began!
The youngest kids speak little to no Portuguese (kids in Mozambique often don’t learn Portuguese until they enter 1st grade), but I think they had a good time all the same! See more pictures I posted at http://stompoutmalaria-mozambique.tumblr.com/