Mozambique #2 Namaacha

Greetings from Namaacha, Mozambique! Week number 4 of pre-service training and everything is going quite well. We are now into more of the technical aspects of training, so the focus has shifted from language to more practical information. Soon we will start having all classes in Portuguese, which will be great to learn the technical terminology that I will need to use daily while working. We recently had a 2 day practical course in Permaculture in which we constructed two permaculture gardens and a composting system. We constructed the gardens in the yards of several host-families as gifts from PC, and it was really rewarding to see the families appreciation for the gorgeous gardens we designed and planted. I only have 1 day off a week, Sunday so unfortunately I haven’t had a chance to explore all that much outside of Namaacha. Last Sunday I did some hiking to a local waterfall and this Sunday I plan on going to Maputo to see some the cultural sites in the city. Maputo is rich in history dating from the Portuguese colonization and should be very interesting to explore on foot.

Living with my Mozambican family could not be better! We have awesome chemistry and really enjoy eachothers company. I help out in the kitchen frequently and am planning on building a compost pile with them, as they grow a lot of food on their land, yet do not have a pile. I have gotten into the habit of each evening going for a “passear” (the verb in Portuguese which translates into “walking around aimlessly”) with my host family father. Each night we select a different topic of conversation which we then discuss. It is fantastic language practice and a great way to learn about Mozambican history, culture and politics. My host father is a well-educated, sympathetic, generous man whom I have a lot of respect for and am thoroughly enjoying his presence and energy.

One of my strategies for learning Portuguese has been to explain really technically dense scientific material to my host brother and sister. I have been focusing on Astronomy as I have observed a high level of interest. Twice now, we have had “class” where we sit indoors and I explain concepts related to the solar system, time, distances in space, etc, for about 30 minutes. We then go outside and walk to a dark street nearby where we look at the stars together and I explain what we are seeing in relation to what we learned in “class”. It is so much fun to explore this topic in another language and it really challenges me to diversify the possible ways I can express ideas. It is also incredibly rewarding to see the looks of amazement on my siblings faces when they observe and understand what they are seeing. They are like sponges, constantly asking questions and soaking up everything I tell them from what I know about science and philosophy.

One aspect of Mozambican culture that I have discovered and love is that it is perfectly acceptable to ask people for fruit from their trees. Everyone has a yard absolutely brimming with tropical fruits and I recently discovered that Mozambicans love to share! I have been getting amazing papayas fresh from the trees, just simply by asking for them. I have 5 avocado trees in my yard, so we have more than I know what to do with. I usually carry around a couple to use as barter for any piece of choice fruit I should come upon while wandering around. The Mozambicans all think that my idea of a “fruit exchange” is hilarious and totally unnecessary, as everyone will willingly just give me whatever I ask for. Yet they always graciously accept. To not accept a gift is taboo here, so even if someone doesn’t want what you are offering they will accept it; even if it is only to re-gift to someone else!

As far as thinking about what area I want to specialize in and what type of an organization I would like to work with, I am thinking that I would love to work with an NGO that focuses on empowering people care for their own health through nutrition education and medicinal plant use. This would include educating people about the best methods for small scale agricultural practices and the processing and usages of plant products that can be grown right in their own yards. After hearing an entire 2 hour presentation about the current health care system in Mozambique, (which makes the US system look amazing!),it was explained that most Mozambicans simply have very little access to western medicine; which is actually not necessarily a bad thing for most diseases if they were simply educated and empowered to use the resources they do have available to them to treat and prevent illness. This is where I see myself coming in. I would like to work with rural and urban communities to educate them about techniques and principles of agriculture and nutrition that would make them as self-sustainable as possible and not dependent on expensive and mostly unnecessary western medications. We will see what happens though!

More to come as the adventure unfolds. Pictures are from hiking excursion and gardening experience.




2 responses to “Mozambique #2 Namaacha

  1. Hi Evan – You may remember me from badminton with your Dad. Your writing is wonderful and let’s us understand what life is like in an area of the world we’ll probably never get to. Thanks so much for sharing. Loved the fruit enlightenment.

    Best – Ken and Cindy

  2. Hope that there’s a Peace Corps magazine, into which you can file wonderful reports like this for the World to read, Evan. Can’t wait to try the Kale recipe, I love all of those ingredients! Stay hale and hearty, we’re missing you here, but knowing that you’ll soon be doing great work over there. I should put you in touch with my former daughter in law who knows all the right herbs and potions for home health care! But, you can probably learn that, just as fast and better over there, from an elderly woman/nurse in your village.
    hugs, Grandy Jane

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