July 19, 2012
Since my last post, I have been able to experience some interesting and cool things in the world of volunteering. For the last couple of weeks, I had been looking for some volunteer opportunities, but, as it turns out, sometimes it's not easy to find work even when you don't want to get paid. I had been trying to find an opportunity at World Vision, and, to make a long story short(ish), after a bit of miscommunication I found out that there was a lot of paperwork that had to be done in order for someone to help out there, so I would probably be back in the U.S. before everything was processed. However, one of the World Vision employees put me in touch with a local organization that he’s involved in called MozHope, and when I got to their office, the coordinator hooked me up right away, saying that I could come with them to a project they were working on the next day. The only problem was, since she was speaking Portuguese, I didn’t know exactly what was going to go down.
My dad and I arrived at the MozHope office at 8:30 and met with some more MozHope employees, and we took the coordinator’s car to a small enclave of the city. It was very interesting to see the less visible parts of Maputo—on the surface you can see the bigger buildings, the sea, the markets, and the vendors on the main roads. But, as it turns out, there are also little communities tucked away behind the city’s many smaller concrete buildings covered with advertisements—especially those for Fanta, Laurentina, and VodaCom.
As it turns out, MozHope was meeting with a group of women who wanted to make and sell clothes to try to work out a plan to help them out by purchasing the material, sewing machines, etc. that they would need in order to get started. There were two employees who spoke English, and they translated a bit for me, but I won’t go into too much detail because, in all honesty, I still didn’t understand the ins and outs. Next, we met with a woman who wanted to embellish flip-flops and sell them, and then with a group of women who wanted to make cable antennas. The MozHope folks went to each group to talk about how they could help and what paperwork was needed to make it happen—for me, you couldn’t really call it volunteering since I basically just tagged along, but it was interesting to see how organizations like this work with the community. It became apparent to me that no matter how much money you throw at something, you need local people to get involved and organize things to help the community. At the end of the day, the coordinator invited us to teach an English lesson to some local children the next day, so of course we accepted.
Our class began at 2:00 at one of the schools, and students of all ages came, the youngest being three or four (these little guys just played together with a ball while their brothers and sisters learned a bit of English) and the oldest being in high school. My dad and I taught them how to introduce themselves and how to talk about how they feel using the verb “to be,” with little breaks in between for games with a ball where one person would say “My name is _____, what’s your name?” and throw it to another who would have to answer and so forth. Then, we taught them some parts of the body using the song “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes.” I was really surprised at how many kids showed up—there were over twenty present, and although this did mean I didn’t remember anyone’s name, all of them impressed me a lot by how attentive they were. I’m not sure how the class was put together, but each one showed an interest in learning English and listened well. It was after we finished our lesson, however, that things really got interesting.
By this, of course I mean that our students showed us some native Mozambican dancing! They showed us three different styles, accompanied by some other students at the school who played four skin-and-wooden drums. When they asked me to join in, I did my very best.
Although I won't have time to do any other English classes, I would love to work with this school or another like it for a longer period next summer. I want to memorize everyone's name!
At 4:30, I went to the mall with Cinthia, Susana, William, and one of Cinthia’s friends, Linda. We played some games in this funky looking arcade on the top floor (below), and afterwards went to the cinema. I never thought I would see “The Amazing Spider-Man” as a foreign film, but “O Fantástico Homem-Aranha” (English with Portuguese subtitles) was excellent!
Tomorrow we are heading to the Kingdom of Swaziland for some choice game-viewing, so hopefully my next post will bring you some lovely tales from the bush!