Friday, June 29, 2012

Baby Orphanage

Nothing we do compares with our work at the baby orphanage.   It is the most hearttouching experience.   Read more about it in my blog post from last year.  

This year was incredible as well, and Telma and I became inseparable.   The first time I went up to see the little ones, the babies were afraid of me, but Telma was the first to come up and sit on my lap.   Every time after that, whenever I would walk into the room, she would run over and motion for me to pick her up.  I love her!!!  She is HIV positive, and just finished a serious set of treatment.  Her mom died when she was little, and so she and her sister came to the orphanage. Telma is the sweetest thing, and I love loving her.

Me and Telma, my baby

Celebration in Ngupa 2

 On Tuesday we had a chance to attend a community celebration in Ngupa.   Every six months communities in the Care For Life program have a celebration where families who have been completing goals receive wards.   Each group (health, garden, education, etc.) does a short skit, and their is plenty of general dancing. If you're wondering, yes, I got my groove on with the machamba mamas. :)  Then the rewards are passed out.   For most families this is two 50k bags of cement, which they will for building a latrine or improving their house.  It was quite a good time, and super exciting to see all the hard work of the community paying off--not just with the rewards, but seeing them becoming more and more self-reliant and confident in their own ability.

Fernando, the smartest 14-year-old I know (and the best dancer!)
translated from Sena to Portuguese for us

Families picking up their bags of cement (50 kilos or 100 pounds!).
  I saw people carrying them on their heads, on their bikes, I even saw a
group of kids dragging a bag back to their house!

Without Electricity

I don't know if you faithful blog followers have noticed my web silence of late, but indeed the power has been out for the last two days.  It went out Tuesday evening, and just came back late Thursday evening (in fact, I had already gone to bed, so I was woken up by the cheering of my housemates).  Let me tell you, life without power in Africa is interesting.  The blackout was our entire side of town--apparently some wires somewhere got covered in water.  No power meant no lights, no air conditioning, no water (pump runs on electricity), no electrical outlets, and no Internet.  Everything in the fridge went bad, and we're still fighting the stink.   Anyway, we managed, taking showers with no water pressure in the dark, and playing lots of Mafia by flashlight.  During the second evening, I thought I had solved the problem of our miserably warm nights without air conditioning.  I exclaimed, "Greg, let's go get the fan!"  I couldn't understand why he wasn't getting excited by my ingenious idea--until I realized than my brilliant plan required the very electricity the lack of which had landed us in the quandry in the first place!  Needless to say, we had a good laugh at that.  So I have two days of Internet and computer-related tasks backlogged, but I will get new posts up soon.  Gotta love Africa! And I truly do. :)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Back at Nhamatanda

Last year, one of the most memorable experiences of my trip was our visit to Nhamatanda orphanage.  You can read my blog post about it here. We were ushered into the great room for our customary greeting in song and prayer, and as I clapped along I scanned the crowd and was delighted to see familiar faces.  When I introduced myself and told them I had such an incredible time last year I just had to come back, there was lots of applause and enthusiastic nods from the boys who remembered me.  I love these children!

All morning we taught them how to weave baskets and make friendship bracelets, while I chatted away with them about their names and ages and school and desires.   After lunch my boys taught me how to play a fun game with the soccer ball.  We gave them the soccer ball when we left, as well as school kits with pencils and a notebook, all of which they were very excited and grateful about. 

It's a strange set of emotions that wash together as we load up into the bed of our Land Cruiser truck and drive away, waving all the time.   Happiness and love for these beautiful children.   Sadness at their situation, many without parents or separated from their family.   Amazement at their cheerfulness despite the difficulties they face.  I told them I would be back, and I'm a man of my word, so this will not be my last visit to Nhamatanda.  Until next time, Edson, Johnny, Wiat, Johnny, Joao, Paizinho, Rosa, Jacob, and Lisboa!

Rosa and Paizinho, who I interviewed about their school
experience to share with my fourth graders this fall

Edson, Antonio, Joao, and Johnny, my boys from last year

Me and Lisboa.  I won't forget your name, Lisboa!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Hunt for Elephants

Gorongoza National Park Safari 2

There is something surreal and extremely exciting about setting out early in the morning in search of big game in Africa.   It is the very definition of adventure.
Morning safari starts with breakfast at 6:00am, in the jeep by 6:30

Such-what-a bird

Impalas.  Funny, we counted 187 warthogs, but I don't
have a single picture of one.

Yeah, let's safari!

Guess what animal this is and you WIN!

Picnic lunch on the way home

I am now totally used to driving on the left side of the street,
passing cars on the right and avoiding oncoming traffic.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Gorongoza National Park Night 1

The road to Gorongoza is full of huge, deep potholes.   That
means the drive there is an adventure, to say the least.  :)

Everybody in the shapa on the way to Gorongoza

So randomly we ended up in the same safari jeep as a Mozambican
TV star named Stewart.  They filmed our whole safari and us--I'm going
 to be on Mozambican TV! :)
Besides being a beautiful scene, this picture is also full of animals
too small to see, warthogs, birds, impalas, etc.

Can you find the monitor lizard?

Sunset on the plains of Africa.
 We stayed in these nice bungalows in a place called Chitengo, near the center of the park.  It was probably the equivalent of a one-star hotel, but for us it felt like a serious upgrade--I had a scalding hot shower, and I could make it as long as I wanted!   After the safari we rendezvoused at the restaurant for a buffet dinner, which was also fit for kings.   I actually asked to see the cook (which surprised them I'm sure to have a white guy ask them in fluent Portuguese, I think they thought I was mad) and told him that the food was amazing.  Veal, cod with potatoes, rice with bacon, meat bread, rolls with real butter, salad, and a variety of fluffy and warm desserts (yay for sponge cake)!   When we went back to our bungalow, I felt so content.  I was clean, full, and just plain happy--the whole experience had a bit of that vacation fun feel.   It felt good to be in Africa, and I knew that I was getting exactly what I was hoping from the experience once again.   Thank you, Africa!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

It Never Gets Old

HELP team volunteers split their time between community service projects, visiting orphanages, and vocational training.  Vocational training is one of my favorite things to do.  Vocational training consists of teaching skills to children ages 9-14 within a certain village.   We teach them to sew backpacks, weave purses and baskets out of yarn and cord, and make brick molds.  I will never tire of sitting with a group of African children and teaching them to do one of the our projects.  They pick it up so quickly, and I love to teach them.

I can't really explain it well, but I LOVE these kids so much--the moment we pull up to a village I am so excited to get out and get to teach them and play with them.   When its time to go, I just want to hug them so tight and tell them I love them, and I wave like a little kid at my new friends as we drive away.   

Ernesto, Phillip, Paizinho

I got out my bubbles to keep the other kids busy. :)

My attempt at torta de frango (chicken cake/casserole).
Everyone said it was tasty--maybe they were being nice. :)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Just Pics

Hammer King make 8 benches.  Ooo-ha-ha!

Some volunteers leave.   It wasn't as happy
as we're making it out to be.  We miss them!

I had to take a picture of this.  The 1-year-9-month-year-old is doing
laundry with her big sister.  She would wring out her little undies
then go hang them to dry.

One example of the incredible work Care For Life does--teaching
families to make and grow their own gardens.

This is a machine for making woven floor mats.

Me and Silva in Ngupa.  Silva is a education promoter for
Care For Life and wants to be a doctor.
Me and the youngest volunteers on the beach.  They
swarm-hugged me and demanded a picture. :)

Beach on the Indian Ocean in downtown Beira.
I love this picture.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Monday Meeting Day

Monday is the day all the staff stays at home base for meetings instead of going out into communities.   I attended the meeting this morning, which was a lot of fun.   I also had an epiphany about what I can teach the staff here.   They are such incredibly smart and talented people, and most of them deeply and truly understand the mission of Care For Life and why it is so important.  They are here for the right reason and they have excellent ideas. I'm excited and lucky to be a part of their incredibly important work.

Teaching English class using Paradise by Coldplay

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Saturday Morning in Ngupa

stick shift truck + Mozambique = hold on! :)

Teaching the kids Duck Duck Goose

Dook, Dook, Toose!

Me teaching some boys how to make a
grasshopper out of a palm frond

Boys teaching me how to make a mini-windmill

Everybody in Africa loves being in a picture!