Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Keeping Vilanculos clean and the community involved

Taking in the view that gets us inspired to clean trash!

This past Saturday, September 19th was International Clean Beach day. To do our part, our 12 enthusiastic volunteers planned a really special beach clean up morning that we conducted with the Language Club group.

We met under the big tree as always and volunteer Evan gave a great motivational intro about the morning’s program and why it’s important for us to keep Vilanculos’ beaches clean. The community here relies so much on the sea both for sustenance and tourism, so the message was definitely well received by everyone. We handed out home-made noisemakers and paraded through the community down to the beach at Baobab, picking up lots of new friends along the way!

Once we arrived to the beach our numbers had skyrocketed from about 30 children to over 100! We split up into red, green and blue teams with the volunteers and older students from Language Club acting as very motivational team captains. Each team was given trash bags and the team with the most full bags at the finish line (camp) won.

Volunteer Elizabeth from America getting one of her teammates a blue armband

Within an hour, the teams had managed to fill 25 huge trash bags! The whole morning was such a raging success and we celebrated at the end with a massive song and dance circle. We are definitely going to plan more mornings like this in the future all around Vilanculos since it was so well received. Well done to all involved and the volunteers who put in so much effort to make the morning such a success!

Volunteers, team captains, Eduardo and Ricardo at the finish line

Our hard-working teammates and a few of the many

full trash bags collected by the end of the morning

The AI Moz family continues to grow

As our project portfolio continues to grow with the addition of the HIV Education workshops, it was clear to us that we would need to bring on some extra support for translation. We were so lucky to find this support in the form of Ricardo Tembe, who has joined us as a translator in addition to everyone’s favorite fellow, Eduardo. They work together to support the volunteers’ involvement at preschool and while Eddie continues to work with the Edson’s English groups and building project, Ricardo focuses on the HIV workshops.

Ricardo’s brilliant English and ease with people is far from the only thing he’s got going for him. His face is very well known around Vilanculos as a recorded artist of traditional Mozambican music. He has even had music videos recorded in Maputo! Ricardo’s passion for music has lent itself so well to facilitating the HIV workshops, the goal of which is to get people to respond to the taboo subject of HIV/AIDS through creative and unusual media.

As embarrassing as it is to admit, for the month after Ricardo started working with us we drove around town consistently blaring his CD from our car. People were often surprised to look up and see the man himself, Ricardo Tembe, sitting atop a strange white safari-truck blasting Mozambican Marimba music. While the novelty of getting to work with such a great creative spirit such as Ricardo has certainly not worn off, we have managed to get a better grip on ourselves about it (as well as the volume knob).

Ricardo has also really enjoyed getting to know the children at the preschool, especially his little favorite, Creusia!

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Our Green Thumb

The king of the crop: the preschool guard Lourenco lounges amongst his bounty

With the winter in Mozambique coming to an end it’s time to write about the amazing harvest of the preschool farm. For many months upwards of 40 volunteers contributed to the clearing, hoeing, raking, planting, and weeding of the farm at the preschool. We’re so proud to let you all know how bountifully all the hard work has paid off. For the last two months we have been able to include veggies ranging amongst lettuce, cabbage, tomatoes, onions, and carrots in the kids’ lunch.

We were nervous at first about the kids’ reaction to the introduction of flecks of green and red in the previously monochrome rice. To our surprise and delight the kids dove into their bowls of rice with more vigor than ever! A cheeky few (Nelson and Paulo amongst them) made their objection to the rice revolution known by diligently picking out anything that lacked resemblance to a kernel of rice. Thankfully though, it seems they’ve warmed to the new menu and in recent weeks we’ve even served mixed salads along with the rice.

So, a huge thank you to all of the volunteers who put in lots of time and sweat in the unforgiving Mozambican sun to make this farm happen! The farm also wouldn’t have been possible without the support lent by the teachers and the parents of the preschool children. We were so encouraged by the parents’ willingness to come in for a couple of hours a week to work on the farm and it definitely strengthened the sense of shared responsibility between the parents and ourselves for the well being of the preschool and the students.

We can’t wait to see what next year’s crop will look like!

Welcome Poppy

July brought many new and exciting things to us here in Vilanculos… One of these was the first few beads of sweat on our brow as winter’s comfortable chill lifted and made way for the swelter of Mozambican summer. The other, and much more welcome one was Poppy Clarke, our new Project Manager!

Esther and Chris will be leaving the project at the end of September and Poppy has been here in Mozambique for the last 6 weeks training and completing the handover of things. Poppy was a volunteer from March to May of this year and we knew as soon as we met her that her vision for the projects and tireless energy would provide great leadership for all of the projects here in Vilanculos.

Poppy and Chico in his black tie finest

Poppy showed great initiative as a volunteer in pioneering many individual projects, such as teaching the housekeeping ladies how to read and write as part of Language Club. Poppy loved having the freedom to work on individual projects as well as delving into the diverse array of scheduled projects. It was this dual sense of constant fulfillment and limitless opportunities for new project work that grabbed her about the project here in Mozambique. As a manager, she hopes to facilitate similar experiences and the ensuing sense of accomplishment and joy that she experienced as a volunteer.

So, welcome to Mozambique Poppy! We can’t wait to see how the projects move from strength to strength under your guidance as well as the new and creative endeavors that you are sure to undertake towards the support of this amazing and vibrant community.