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Published: August 16th 2008
Today we went to an outlying community to teach the kids the “Stay Alive” class and also some crafts they can use to make a few bucks. Actually, that makes things sound a little more impressive than they really were. It’s the local Care for Life employees who teach the “Stay Alive” program. Today I didn’t understand most of it, but the most memorable part was the part where they role-played a 10-year old girl who was being propositioned by a guy and rejecting him and calling for help. Apparently that’s something that 10-year old girls need to know around here. Yikes.
The crafts we taught them were creating beads out of paper triangles and stringing them together to sell. I guess that’s useful, but it’s not one of the more interesting things I’ve done. So I took charge of crowd control—it’s a major job to keep all the dozens of other kids from crowding in trying to get a look. And for a while I kept the unlucky ones out by videoing them, then showing them video of themselves on my camera. That always gets them very stoked, very fast. The problem is that when they start squealing,
Big sister does crafts while little brother catches some shut-eye.
other kids hear it and come running, and it turns into an uncontrollable pandemonium pretty fast. So I had to shut it down.
One of the little girls we videotaped was about two years old and had a necklace made out of a ribbon and a partly smashed tin can. In the pandemonium she got knocked down and banged her head on a piece of concrete. I felt bad. Her sister—who was maybe six or seven—immediately picked her up and started taking care of her, holding her until she stopped crying.
Back at the machessa, I literally had to draw a line in the dirt and get after any kid who tried to cross it. You know how kids are in that kind of a situation—First I’ll put one foot over and see if I get in trouble, then I’ll push a neighboring guy over and see if he gets in trouble, then I’ll extend the line but curve it toward the action and see if I get in trouble, then I’ll try to erase the line and draw a new one with my foot and see if I get in trouble. Plenty for the bouncer (me) to take
Note the young'uns watching from the corner. There's a line drawn in the dirt that they aren't supposed to cross.
On the way home we got stopped by the cops. One of the drivers’ papers had expired a couple days before and they got slapped with a 1,800-metacais (about $75) fine. Ouch. That’s a few weeks’ wages for those guys.
We are having some bunk beds made for orphans at a nearby carpenter shop. We went over there today to check on things. It was interesting to see their carpentry shop. The quality of work is much lower than we’d expect in the US. The wood is all wet tropical hardwood. The tools are ancient and consist of two table saws, two band saws, and a few hand tools. It does smell great in there! The guy I was with was negotiating with the owner about the price and design of the beds.
We were in the community twice today, and four times drove by a nearby house where a guy was lying in his doorway, unconscious and in an awkward (as in dead-looking) position. He never budged between the times that we drove by him. We had just about decided that he was dead and I was debating with a girl in the group
Now that's a Mozambique-style load.
as to whether it’d be immoral to take the guy’s picture. Then he budged a tiny bit as we drove by. So I think he was just drunk.
Tonight as we drove to the baby orphanage, I was reminded that there are an enormous number of vacant buildings in Beira. Part of that is because they got bombed out or whatever in the war. I don’t know all the dynamics behind it, though. There have to be some pretty serious legal and economic reasons why those buildings are rotting away while people live in grass huts or worse. I can see that there are some squatters in there, but not nearly as many as I’d expect.
Tonight at the baby orphanage went about as in the past. I spent more time just holding kids and singing to them than I have before. I think that is probably the best use of my time. They just lean against you and listen to you sing. It’s nice.
Tucker has nicknames for each of the toddlers at the orphanage. They’re funny. Nala, Moon, Mr. Cripple (um, that one’s not too sensitive), Climber, Potbelly Tom, Tubby Ted, Leaper, Slasher, Scrounger, Deceiver,
And it ain't exactly kiln-dried.
Wonderland, Puzzler. He has a reason for each, and the girls on the team seem to have adopted all those names.
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