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Published: August 16th 2008
This is how women carry a large load around here.
This morning we went to a community called Casa Banana. Yeah, House of Bananas. And what do you know, it turns out they have a lot of banana trees there. The kids were taught about hygiene in the machessa, and then we taught them some rudimentary sewing skills to make hand puppets. I went into it thinking that was pretty dumb, but it was less dumb than I thought. I suppose that’s not a stirring endorsement.
The village had pigs, which I’d never seen before here. There were a jillion kids playing and wanting in on the sewing action, so Tucker distracted a bunch of them with soccer. Apparently they kicked the ball down the well a couple times. Tucker has some hilarious pictures of the kids lowering a small kid down there by one ankle to grab the ball. I also videotaped Tucker running around with 20 or 30 squealing kids chasing him. In the middle of the chase, a kid, maybe five or six years old, decides he needs to take a pee, so he just drops trou. It was awesome. Not so much hygienic, but awesome.
A couple times I’ve seen girls at the side of
If you live on a busy street and you're lucky, the local telecom company will paint your house or fence--with their logo, that is.
the road playing “monkey in the middle.” It seems like a common game here. I wonder if the boys play too, or if it’s one of the many things that guys don’t do here.
During our lunch break, I took a few people and we went to a fruit stand nearby to buy some oranges, which are in season here and really good. On the way back I was about half-done eating one as I walked. I happened to be walking near one of the many pedestrians on the road. I greeted him with the standard “tudo bom?” (“everything good?”). He said yes, then a few seconds later he said something I didn’t understand. I said, what? He said it again, and I still didn’t understand. I asked him to say it slower (now there’s a handy phrase I use a lot), and he said slowly, “I really like that kind of fruit.” I slapped him on the back, laughed, and gave him the rest of the one I was eating. It was funny.
In the afternoon, we went to visit a boys’ orphanage called Kadesh. It was really interesting. John, the guy who runs the place, grew
up in Utah and Arizona. He’s probably about 50. At some point his mom was a missionary or something in Zimbabwe. He met a white woman there and they were married years ago. She was killed by a wild animal on their honeymoon. (What?! you say. Yeah, as in gored to death on their honeymoon.) And he decided to work with kids in Mozambique. He didn’t tell me any of this stuff himself except the Utah and Arizona part. He’s very personable. He teaches his boys to work. They have a large plot of land, with wells, crops, a sort-of school area, and stuff like that. It’s pretty impressive—frankly, a lot better from what I can see than the orphanages run by Mozambicans. Most of the older kids speak decent English, and they’re very well-behaved.
Kadesh has big field that they use for baseball and soccer and Frisbee football. We played baseball and soccer with them. He told me that most of his boys are there permanently, but some are part-time and spend some time at their homes. I asked him why he has part-timers, and he said that’s for the cases in which the father has died of AIDS
Mystery sweater technique
Not sure why the sweater was like this, but it stayed that way the entire time we were in the village.
and the mother is dying but not yet dead. He said that you can now get anti-AIDS drugs for free in Mozambique, but not until you’re in the advanced stages of the disease. So the miserable ends of the victims’ lives are prolonged, but their productive years are not. Neat.
They have a goat herd at Kadesh. However, John told me that there is no way the boys will try goat milk or goat cheese. He said that is absolutely taboo in Mozambique, for no particular reason except they don’t do goat milk. He said they’re stubborn about stuff like that, and mentioned that they don’t eat potato skins either. He said that he tried to get the boys to eat them, but they refused and said it was pig food. Jeez, if you’re starving you’d think that it wouldn’t be such a big deal. Guess not.
I was surprised and stoked to find out that Kadesh was next door to Casa de Bençaos, the place where I’d seen the cardboard hat. I had an English speaker go over there with me to find the owner. But no one had any idea what I was talking about. Weird.
At Kadesh, the guy in charge is an American and he's taught everyone how to play baseball.
I wish I’d followed up on it when I had the chance. The kid from Kadesh who helped said he might know someone who could do something like that. Maybe something will come of it—we’re going back to Kadesh in a few days.
September 25 is the Day of the Armed Struggle against the Portuguese. So there are streets and restaurants named after it here.
I forgot something that happened the first day at the baby orphanage. I was playing with the pee-covered toddlers in this sweaty orphanage. I had one on my lap, and I would stick out my tongue and he would stick out his tongue. Then I stuck out my tongue and he grabbed it with his grimy little germ-ridden hand. Yuck. I am much faster with my tongue now when we play that game, I can tell you.
I think I mentioned before that we’re not allowed to take photos in the baby orphanage until our last night there. Tonight in the baby orphanage I took another covert picture. It was a bunch of TINY kids—maybe 18 months?—lined up on tiny little potties. It was great. They had them sitting on there for
They start teaching them early in the orphanage.
a long time, too. I guess you have to do potty training industrial-style when there’s that many young’uns. I got scolded because I wasn’t covert enough and got caught. Oh well, easier to obtain forgiveness than permission, that’s for sure.
One of the babies I held tonight had a bunch of purple stuff on his head. He had some kind of skin infection or something, and I assume the purple stuff was medicine of some sort. Gee, I hope it’s not a really contagious condition, whatever it was.
On the way home on the minibus, I talked with a local guy who is temping with Care for Life for the summer. He’s married with a baby. He’s a member of the church. It was interesting to talk with him about economics here. It’s pretty bad. He said that after this job ends he needs to find something else, but he has no idea what that would be. He speaks pretty decent English for a Mozambican and could maybe work that into a job. But he has to have a certificate, which means that he needs to go to school. But that costs $400, which is a fortune, so he can’t do it. He said that if he had the certificate he could make maybe 5,000 meticais (about $200) per month, which isn’t a bad wage. He said that life is better in South Africa, and that “you can live a good life there,” unlike in Mozambique. You might have heard that the poorer South Africans are tired of Mozambicans coming in and fighting for the jobs they have, and so there have been some riots and even murders of outsiders in South Africa recently.
There are lots of pits in the villages. I asked why. They dig pits for wells (there are more formal wells too) and for garbage. As they put garbage in the pits, they burn it and then, when the pit is almost full, they cover it and dig a new pit. I wonder what kind of crud is leaching into the ground water, which in many places is only five or six feet below the ground? Let alone the human waste byproducts that are going into the water. I men, out in these communities there are so many people you can’t believe it, and they’re all pooping somewhere. I wonder if anyone’s ever tested the groundwater in those sorts of places. Yikes.
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