This morning Kyla (another PCV who is the new Malaria Activities Coordinator and will replace me when I leave) and I led a session on diversity, stereotypes, and counseling for the approximately 25 language and technical teachers who will be working with the newest group of PCVs during their ten weeks of training (“Moz 19” will arrive on the 27th of September). It was a fairly intimidating group—only two women—but they were an interactive and responsive audience. My chemistry trainer from when I was in training three years ago was part of the audience (both of my language teachers no longer work with Peace Corps), which made me even more nervous because if I didn’t sound good I was afraid he might blame himself, as my former teacher.
There is a G19 meeting going on in Namaacha currently, so Kyla and I were scheduled to show the U.S. Ambassador my house and neighborhood, then have dinner with him. He was unfortunately forced to cancel last minute, but two other Peace Corps staff were in Namaacha for the day and must have felt bad for us, because they took us to lunch before heading back to Maputo.
After lunch and walk around the market, they drove to our house so see what it was like. We (three PCVs and two PC staff) pulled up a little ways from our house, since the path gets very rocky after. As we pulled up we saw a man and woman arguing, he had his hand on her neck. As we stopped and got out of the car he started to yell louder about his bank card and then began to punch her repeatedly in the face. Once she went down to the ground he started kicking her with all his might, in the face, in the stomach, in the back, in the back of her head. He stomped on her head repeatedly. We were shouting at him to stop, but he had a crazy look in his eyes and kept yelling about his bank card. He finally stopped and a couple of us got physically between him and the woman lying on the group. A few female neighbors had gathered because we had made so much noise, so a few of them got her up and gathered the pieces of her phone that he had thrown against a building and shattered. He stayed there for a few more minutes ranting about why she had deserved it, until finally he took off for the town in a jog. The woman’s face was bleeding and twice the normal size, but she was able to walk herself home. I kept demanding to know why nobody was accompanying her, but the women gathered said she lived right there close, and continued to stand there talking, so she walked home alone. We kept saying that she needed to go to the hospital, but the Mozambican PC staff person who was there said that she would have to go to the police station first, otherwise they wouldn’t treat her. We wanted to help her, but there was a fear that if she went to the police, he would return to actually kill her. We were also in an awkward situation because we had pulled up in our shiny white SUV with the Peace Corps logos painted on the sides and our bright yellow diplomatic license plates. So anything we did to help would be associated with Peace Corps and could potentially turn into a diplomacy nightmare, since Peace Corps holds their pre-service trainings in Namaacha twice a year. If it had been just Anna and me—since we live 30 yards from where this happened—we could have tried to get her to the hospital or police station without too many people taking notice. But aside from rules and diplomacy, the simple fact is that she is a human being and the right thing to do was to help her, to make sure she didn’t die. We kept asking around and eventually we learned that her brother was home and taking care of her and her parents would take her to police station when they got home from work. That man is the father of her son. The way people talked about it, it seemed like this wasn’t the first time he had hit her. At the same time, I am no expert in domestic violence, but what we saw was not a wife-beating—it was one person beating another to death. And I am fairly certain that if we hadn’t pulled up when we did he might have killed her.