Week 3.5: Getting Down to Business


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June 13th 2015
Published: June 15th 2015
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Maxixe to Tofo

The highlights of the week. Tofo and Barra Beaches

Dhairya and I in the ChapaDhairya and I in the ChapaDhairya and I in the Chapa

Crammed in the back of the chapa
It was an interesting, if not wholly productive, week here in Mozambique. I started the week off thoroughly uselessly with a rainy, kinda gloomy Sunday where I basically just worked in my room and/or putzed about on my computer. Not must to do when the weather is nice – zilch to do when it’s crappy and you can’t plan for anything. Oh well.

Monday came and introduced me to the intricacies of grant writing in Mozambique. I joined the group to review comments sent back on their new grant application, but quickly learned that I didn’t want to open that can of worms and ran back to my room to work on materials for my own project. I have to keep telling myself that I only have three months here (less now) and that I am counting in days and weeks while they are counting in months and years. I have to stay focused despite wanting to take on other side projects. :/

That afternoon we ventured into town so I could pick up some A4 sized notebooks that I’m going to use much as I use my “to do” books and/or how someone who works in
Project Meeting 3 - Community Meeting Project Meeting 3 - Community Meeting Project Meeting 3 - Community Meeting

Talking to the community about the Theory of Planned Behavior. Ha.
a lab (a scientist? Heh…) keeps a lab book. Sooooo, at the end of all this I should have two books on the “development of” the materials we are making… Plus it gives me an excuse to play arts and crafts, just saying. Pictures to follow.

I also realized that my recent purchase of a new pillow from the Chinese super store in Maxixe was no better than my original purchase from the Chinese super store in Inhambane. The only difference is that one is like a foam brick and the other is like a wad of cotton candy, but they both give me neck aches and bad sleep. 😉 You can just call me Goldie Locks. Other recent purchases include butter knives, since we can only be trusted with one apparently, and other assorted kitchen utensils such as a spatula and a large-ish cooking spoon. Fantastic. I also McGuyered a kitchen utensil receptacle (think of the kinds of things most people keep next to the stove to keep all the wooden spoons and such) out of a 5L water bottle. What Boyscout badge does that get me?

Tuesday was the second group meeting for the project and there were initially only about 5 guys there, but they filtered in as time went by and by the end there were 15 people there, including Elfie and Rose. It went pretty well with me talking in English and then them translating (there was one community activist there from Nhamaxaxa who didn’t speak English). They also spoke in English to me, so they got their English practice in… When they translated I had the others in the class rate how faithfully they translated and to give them feedback on it. I think that worked pretty well cause it kept them all in the game. We talked about problem thinking instead of problem solving and mind mapping as a way to visualize problems. I think some got it more than others, but since I forgot to do SMART objectives at the end or assign “homework”, there’s no way of assessing that. Doh! I was just too excited that 15 people showed up.

On another note, one of the guys said there was a place available by the university and that he had contact info, so we set something up for the next day to see it. This
Group WorkGroup WorkGroup Work

We are looking at pictures of the materials i've been working on and to try to get them to tell me the story (there are no words to explain it) and then select the best graphic
was great because it was an opportunity to live closer to the city (and some semblance of civilization) instead of having to catch a chapa back to the CoH at 7:30 at the latest. Boooo.

On Wednesday I woke up to get dressed and wander into town to see this apartment. It was very close to the university, just behind the church next to the uni, and was very big – four bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen, and bathroom, but it was very bare bones and did not have any appliances at all. I still would have taken it despite all that, except the security didn’t look like the greatest despite being assured otherwise. I really wanted it to work out so that I could be closer to the city, but returned to CoH bummed that it didn’t work out. When I returned to CoH, Dhairya was dressed up and came out to tell me that Dr. Stelio, from the Ministry of Health, was on his way and that he was going to talk to him (finally, after trying to get a meeting with him since forever). Said meeting occurred and I was brought in for like 2 mins of facetime at the end, during which we orally confirmed that I was going to go to an annual meeting of all the provincial health directors in Barra next week (this week; 14-20) to give a presentation on the Connect The Dots(CTD) SMS software and my project. O_o er-muh-gerd. All I wanted was to beg people for help and resources and/or to pool what has already been done in this area, but looks like I landed something a bit bigger than that – wow. The rest of the day was spent on drawing, constructing books, and trying to piece together some other materials. I have to produce another story for consideration by the community as well – which means I have to listen to the group interviews again as well. So much to do!

Thursday was a day of learning. I assembled the final pages of the second book and took it to some of the people here at CoH for review. Basically, I pasted different graphic versions of the same information side by side and asked people to tell me the story without any words and to tell me which version they liked better in the end. It was ok, until I asked Pastor… She was very adamant that malaria only comes from mosquitoes, so when I drew a “healthy” mosquito biting a sick person and catching malaria – Ugh-oh Spaghetti-O’s… I took it in stride and thought it was interesting that the point of the comic was to teach the transmission cycle, but that just that one thing stopped her from processing any more information after that point. I obviously have to reconsider how I present the material, i.e. move the familiar sequence of events to the front/top and then introduce this “new” idea later. The point was that they knew that some mosquitoes have malaria and some don’t, but they don’t know why – the question was, specifically, where does malaria come from in the first place? This is a chicken-or-the-egg kind of question of course, so explaining it requires the idea that mosquitoes are not born with the parasite already in them… that it is a cycle, blah blah blah…

Also, Thursday was the day we went out for Dhairya’s last day here. We went out to Pastelaria at 5 for dinner and what not – Elfie, Rose, Pastor, Dhairya, and myself. It was fun – especially when the power went out in the city and we were the only ones with power. (The restaurant has an inverter so that they just flip a switch and there was power again) I had the squid – but I think it was actually cuttlefish cause it came out in big square chunks, nit teeny little squidsies. Whatever it was, it was good. Afterwards, Vishal gave us a ride back to Chicuque so we didn’t have to take a chapa – super nice. I took a bath and was in bed by 9:30, super lame – I know – but there wasn’t anything else to do.

Friday was a day devoted to working on stuff for group meeting that night and to making a blanket fortress out of my bed frame. Dhairya left around 10 and when he did he gave me several important items:

1. Modem of Power (I have the Interwebs now!!)

2. Tennis racket of Doom (A firey, electrified death to mosquitoes everywhere!)

3. Cloaks of Darkness (aka 2 South African Airways blankets)

With these hallowed items I was able to build my light blanket fort, connect it to the outside world sans wires, and defend it from the evils of little biting beasties after dark. I shall prevail! HA!

After all that excitement I ventured into town to pick up speakers for my computer, and water and bread for meeting. I had already gotten cucumbers for cucumber water from the market in Chicuque, as well as bananas. Overall, snack consisted of plain or cucumber water, bread with peanut butter or nutella, and bananas… for 20 people… plus chapa fare for at least 10 of them. Hmmmm… I don’t know if my budget will continue to support this… we will see.

Speaking of meeting – I got there early, as is usual for me, but about 4:40 a group of like 8 people from Nhamaxaxa show up too. Now, how on Earth do Mozambicans show up so early to something??? I mean, I’m counting on things not getting started until 5:20… We talked for a bit, had to wait for the classroom, and then I was really flustered cause I was planning on the students being there to talk between us, but there were only 2 of them. The topic was dry – it was theory behind the materials – which I didn’t expect everyone to get, but I wanted to share it for those that were interested. Meh. The students got there on Mozambican time and were pretty much left out of everything because I had already covered it. Then we did group exercises, but the community was pretty involved and the students weren’t needed as much. I kinda felt like it was another bust – I have to rethink how I go about doing this or I’m never going to get anyone to do anything concrete for the project. L ugh.

After meeting I took a chapa home and went to heat up food – then realized there was no gas. Great. No hot food, but also no hot water. Uuugghhhhh. Cold bucket bath sucks. Reminds me of living in Slidell and not having any hot water for months and months, only no truck stop to go to for a hot water reprieve. Of course, it is on the weekend, so it’s not getting refilled until at least Monday. L I watched a movie to ease the pain – Big Hero 6. Pretty good.

On my various errands I ran into Vishal, Rose, and Elfie while getting water from Taurus and Vishal said he wanted to take me out that night, but after finding out that I had no hot water I didn’t want to take a cold bucket bath with cold air and no sunshine to warm me up, so I declined. Call me a loser or a stick in the mud, I don’t care. I didn’t want to freeze. The next day though, he texted me to say he wanted to take me somewhere and that it was a surprise, so I got dressed (jenas and a t shirt) and he picked me up. After we started going he told me it was Tofo – the beach – and I was like – but I have jeans on! Meh. Oh well. We picked Rose and Elfie up from their place and headed out around the bay to Tofo and Barra. It is about 23km or more to each of them. There is a common road up to a point, and then it Y’s and you take a right for Tofo (say tofu) and a left for Barra. Both were nice, but Barra feels a little too expensive for my taste and seems to attract super snobbish white people from SA or wherever. The ones in Tofo seemed more like hippies and backpackers, though there were a few upscale hotels.

We walked along the beach, wrote our names (I wrote mulungo since that’s what everyone calls me – white person) and then headed back for the car so we could double back and go to Barra to check it out. The beach was ok, nothing terribly special, but as we walked out onto it we were accosted by urchins (sea-urchins! Ha! The distant cousin of street-urchins!) selling their wares. The most amusing part was when they were trying to out compete each other and one finally says “I sell two for one!” I laughed out loud at his business tactics and so did everyone else. Eventually, they decided it was a lost cause but told us their names as well – the one who said “two for one” said “My name, John Walker” which just made me crack up laughing even more. (i.e. Johnny Walker whiskey)

We ventured back to the car and as we doubled back we stopped a the Y-point where Rose ordered meat-on-a-stick for 10 Meticais a piece. I was relieved to find out it was chicken, even if I got gypped by getting a wing with the bones and all. (They really should throw the wing out when they cut up a chicken.) Long drive home, then I finished the movie Birdman (crap) and went to bed.



That was (most) of my week. Not terribly productive, but interesting nonetheless. I have to spend more time reviewing my recorded conversations and then the transcripts, looking for symbols that are familiar here in Mozambique, and developing some more materials to test out with the activists on Tuesday. I feel they are eager to do more work since they asked about it on Friday, and there is a health fair on Wednesday that will happen as well. SO much to do! We’ll see how this week goes…


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On the way to Tofo


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