Our task while here in Mozambique is to provide a detailed report on how the community of Mungassa has changed (for better or for worse) while partnered with Care For Life over the past three years. Four days a week we walk the 35 minutes to the community of Mungassa to conduct surveys, interviews, and focus groups with the families. There are 235 families in the community and although we have already met over 200 of them, we still have much to do on the surveys, interviews and focus groups.
We find new, unique personalities every day. For example, today we met the man in the picture below:
His name is Viegas Bango and he is a Zone Leader in the community of Mungassa. Viegas has the best looking latrine in the whole community (pictured above). It has a tiled floor, a lock on the door, windows and even a toilet paper holder!
Viegas has built his latrine with the rewards of Care For Life. Each family in the community has made 10 individual goals with CFL Field Officers that vary from having a family garden to treating their water with chlorine, to keeping their yard clean. If these goals are met within 6 months, CFL rewards these families with building materials for their homes or chairs for inside their homes. Viegas chose cement and zinc roof panels as his rewards and he used them to build his latrine, a large kitchen…(see below)
a bath house (see below)
and a zinc roof. (see below)
Viegas has been a Pastor for his church for many years and it was so interesting to hear his story. He and his wife had 12 kids, but only 5 are still alive. He lost one child in 1980 to malaria, because nobody in the area knew what malaria was at that time and they only found out how to treat it after he had passed away. Four of his other children were still-born and the other two only lived a week or two. He lost a lot of his children during Mozambique’s Civil War (which ended about 15 years ago and I am currently working on a blog post about that war and the general history of Mozambique). During that time of civil war, all the members of the community of Mungassa had to sleep away from their homes because Mungassa was in a war zone. This difficult living situation caused much unrest in the community and is the main reason that so many of Viegas children died. Mozambique has been through many difficult times in the last 30 years and we could see the pain from the civil war in his eyes.
It is difficult to walk around the community on some days because there are so many sad scenes and stories. People die on a regular basis (mostly because of AIDS) and it is difficult to see women and children who are alone because their families have died or been killed by war, AIDS, Cholera, Malaria, Tuberculosis, and many other causes. Yesterday one of the Field Officers of Care For Life had his baby daughter pass away of Jaundice, which is something that we have heard is treatable in most developed countries. Last week an older man in Mungassa died, the week before a young girl from our church passed away unexpectedly. These things sometimes weigh us down, but at the same time we see many more stories of the good things that are happening here. Because of CFL we see healthy infants that get bathed every day, we see healthy children running around, we see men that have hope in their eyes because Mungassa is becoming a community that now has a road and will soon have electricity.
It is so interesting to interview these people and learn how their lives have changed with CFL. Below is a picture of Anita interviewing a man that was telling her about how many things CFL has taught him:
Most of the time we arrive at a family’s home and ask them if they have about 20 minutes to talk. They bring a few chairs out of their home and set them under a tree and we start to talk. The below picture is of a typical interview scene:
After the interview above, the woman in the purple (Jorgina) decided she would give something to Anita. We walked past her house later in the day and the pictures tell the rest of the story…
This lady had a very unique story because she has lived away from Mungassa for the past four years and was able to see the “before and after” effect of Care For Life. She told us that the road in front of her house used to be full of trash and was literally the community latrine. She said it used to stink at her house because of the amount of people that used the latrine along the road. She then explained that now all that has changed and that the road is now clean because everyone has their own latrine and the garbage is gone as well.
The above picture is the road that has improved so much while CFL has been here.
At times these surveys can be a bit tedious, because it is hard to get an honest answer out of them. Not because they are not honest people, but because they are in some way used to figuring out what type of answers organizations are looking for and that is the answer they will give. We eventually figured that out and were not satisfied with those types of answers, because they don’t tell us the real picture and that is what we are here for. So we usually dig around with more open ended questions until they open up and we are able to get to the bottom of who they are, what the community is all about and what their true feelings are about the work with CFL. And that is when it gets so interesting and rewarding. Because it is during those moments that we see how we are all the same – that we have the same frustrations, desires and needs, even though our worlds (literally and figuratively) are so far apart.
And so during those interviews we have formed closer relationships with some of the community members and today we felt the effects of that. Just to give you a little background…usually Talmadge and I head to Mungassa separately from the CFL group, but today we went there together as they are during their follow up work in Mungassa every two weeks. And as we sat there at the meeting and looked over the crowd of leaders from the community, we felt connected to them. We have met with them, we have heard their stories, we are aware of some of their strengths and weaknesses and we could tell that our emotional attachment was definitely different than a month ago when we had just arrived here. And that was beautiful and that is when we realize that 2 months at Mungassa is nothing -we are just scratching the surface and we are just getting to know them. There is so much more to learn and we’ll keep talking about it with you in this blog.