Working at Casa Banana and Partying at Kadesh


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Africa » Mozambique » Central » Beira
July 29th 2008
Published: August 16th 2008
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Today we went back to Casa Banana to finish teaching sewing stuff. Before we did that, there was a brief Care for Life lesson on “the rights of children.” It’s interesting, I’ve seen several references to the “rights of children” here. They talk about it much more than we do in the States. Maybe that’s because as a practical matter children do not have many rights here.
Among the rights they listed were the rights to “freedom from abuse,” “free time and toys,” “health,” “education,” “hospital,” “family,” “a name and nationality,” “a proper house,” and “food.” I guess that stuff sounds good but it ain’t the reality on the ground around here. Maybe that’s why they talk about it, because the goals are aspirational rather than actual.
The Casa Banana kids finished sewing their puppets this morning. Many of them are back in school now, so there were fewer kids. The winter holidays just ended, and the first day back to school was yesterday.
One of the things that we did today was play red rover with the kids. As is usually the case in the States, the game broke up because kids got hurt. First a
Awesome!Awesome!Awesome!

The boys at Kadesh all did their dishes without being asked!
little girl hurt her wrist when Tucker busted through her line. Then a girl got clotheslined and fell back on her head. I don’t think any of the injuries were serious, but a little embarrassing that the Americans bring up this neat game and the Africans get hurt. And red rover was Jenny’s idea!!
Today at Casa Banana there were several sad things to see. First, a mentally disabled kid, maybe 14 years old, showed up and wanted to be in the middle of the sewing. When he wasn’t allowed to get in everyone’s way, they had to drag him off, literally kicking and screaming. Not much courtesy to the disabled around here. The other kids were laughing at him as he fell over, shrieking. But eventually they got him out of the area.
Second, one of the kids sewing was maybe 12 years old. He had one leg that was twisted and much shorter than the other one. I noticed that he was fiercely focused on the sewing. Who knows, maybe that’s something that will give him a way to provide for himself later in life. I have seen several guys along the street who set up an old treadle sewing machine in their front yard and are sewing away.
Third, a little girl was limping because she had a nasty, swollen, oozing sore on the bottom of her foot. It might have been one of those little worms that grow in your foot here, or maybe she just stepped on a splinter or something that had gotten infected. But it was all swollen and sore. It just needed a basin full of soapy water, and a bandage, and maybe a needle or something to dig out whatever was in there. But nobody here has the resources, or the knowledge, to do that. And we didn’t have any soap or water or time to do it. So she limps around, and hopefully it will get better. She didn’t seem to give it much thought, unless you tried to touch it. She wasn’t going to go along with that.
And finally, as we were leaving there was a kid playing with a balloon he’d inflated. Oh wait, that ain’t no balloon, it’s a used condom! A nearby adult grabbed it away and threw it, but YUCK and DOUBLE YUCK!!
Also as we were leaving, we came across a guy who was whacking on unripe coconuts with a machete and serving up the coconut milk and meat for three metacais (about 12 cents). I’ve never been a huge fan of coconut milk, but the price was right for a little adventure, you know? So I paid him and tried it. It’s amazing how those guys can open up a coconut with a few whacks of a machete.
One thing I’ve noticed here is that women have a whole bunch of cool hair styles. There’s all manner of braiding, poofing, slicking down, and everything else that you can imagine. I think that they have quite a bit of down time, so they do each other’s hair a lot. You see even small girls with complex braids and weaves. Basically, they do a lot of braids and then can style their little braids much like a woman with typical American hair. And they have other options, too, because they can make their braids be stiff, as though they were pipe cleaners.
There are a lot of big log yards around here, and a lot of semi trucks carrying around big loads of logs. I’m told that the
Playing MancalaPlaying MancalaPlaying Mancala

These guys were playing a complicated form of mancala. I watched for a while, but couldn't figure out the rules.
Chinese are buying a lot of resources around here.
Today the team leader also informed us that youth conference has been canceled. Unfortunately Solomon, the director of Care for Life and also a local branch president or district president, has been in Botswana with his wife getting surgery for the past couple weeks, and logistically it won’t work out. I think we could’ve pulled it off, and I was bummed. I had a presentation that could go an hour easy. Tucker had his activity, too. Throw in a couple other things and we could easily have filled up three hours, but the team leader was obviously not wanting to do it, and so lo and behold, nothing was decided by Sunday, so it wasn’t announced at church, and then it was effectively impossible to get the word out, so it was off. That’s a little frustrating given all the work that I did to prepare for my part of it. It’s also too bad that these kids missed out on what could have been a pretty neat experience for them.
We’re still trying to get the bunk beds for the Dondo orphanage figured out. The carpentry place said we’d have them a couple days ago, but there have been various issues. Should be soon. It better be—we have to assemble them out at the orphanage before we leave on Sunday.
Tonight we went to Kadesh again for a barbeque and night games. It was a lot of fun. We had chicken and hamburgers, played volleyball and other games, and a lot of people (including Tucker but not me) had a big water fight. I spent most of my time taking photos of the boys. Initially the light was good enough that I could take soccer and baseball photos, but as it got darker the action shots weren’t possible anymore. We had a good time taking and printing photos pretty much the whole time we were there. One of the pictures I took was of a grandma and three of her grandsons who live in the orphanage.
That orphanage is pretty impressive. John, the guy in charge, really has those kids in line. They all washed their own dishes and cleaned up after dinner. They are polite, and the older ones speak pretty good English. John has rigged up internet access for the place and has a
Coconut vendorCoconut vendorCoconut vendor

First you peel off the fibrous coat, then open the shell with a few whacks of the machete.
couple laptops and a router. There’s also a big speaker system, and there’s usually popular music playing during waking hours. I got a chance to walk through the sleeping quarters and utility room part of the orphanage. Those are contained in a two-story building that is built right up next to a huge tree. The whole place feels kind of like a treehouse. Up on the second story there is what looks the main sink for the residential part of the orphanage. I noticed that the faucet has a carved wood handle and a carved wood base. I doubt the Mozambicans thought a thing about them—just fixed broken parts with what they had available. But I thought that the replacement parts were pretty cool-looking.
There’s a tall water tower there, so that they have water pressure and also water storage during the dry season. It’s maybe 30 feet tall. I climbed it with one of the girls. It was more rickety than I thought and a little scary. The ladder was just welded half-inch rebar. As I climbed I wondered what kind of medical treatment I’d end up with if I broke my leg. Or neck. The view up
Hmm, I didn't know they have balloons in the village.Hmm, I didn't know they have balloons in the village.Hmm, I didn't know they have balloons in the village.

Wait, that's not a balloon--HEY, PUT THAT DOWN!!
there was pitch black looking away from the city. At the top I saw a tiny little shiny, yellow-brown frog with big black eyes. I might have tried to take a photo of it but I was kind of hanging on for dear life at that point.
Also at Kadesh, I met a young man named Miguel who is a second-year law student in Nampula. Nampula is Mozambique’s third-largest city and is about a 12-hour drive north of here. We had an interesting conversation. He said that law school here is a 4½-year program after high school and there are about 500 lawyers in Mozambique. Mozambique follows a civil law system in which most laws are written in detail in statutes, rather than the law being made in part by judges whose decisions influence later judges. So Mozambique’s system is more like France’s (and Portugal’s, not surprisingly) than ours. I asked him what a lawyer could expect to make here. He said that it depends, but that a lawyer out of school could expect to make about $1,000 per month, which is pretty darn good here, and after several years $2,000-$3,000 per month is pretty typical. That’s called being loaded in Mozambique.



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Kadesh sinkKadesh sink
Kadesh sink

Notice the hand-carved handle and faucet base.


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