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April 27, 2010

The REDES Conference in Chimoio was a huge success!!! REDES (Raparigas Em Desenvolvimento, Educacao, E Saude or teenage girls in development, education, and health for all my English speaking friends) is a group that Peace Corps volunteers in Moz have the option of starting to talk about health topics, learn a new skill, or just act as a sort of after-school club for girls in your community. I’m trying to start a REDES group in Mopeia so I took 2 interested girls from the local secondary school and a teacher to the conference in Chimoio, Manica. It was a week long conference filled with sessions from test taking strategies to how HIV is transmitted and how we can avoid getting it. There were about 50 girls from all over the Northern and Central provinces and it was so much fun! A lot of singing and dancing, and we even taught the girls how to play 4-square and musical chairs. There were some skills sessions also that included nutrition (and making delicious banana and sweet potato chips), income generation (and how to sew purses), self-defense, and public speaking. The difference in the girls from the beginning of the week to the end was absolutely amazing! The first couple of days a lot of the girls were shy and didn’t ask many questions, but by the end they were performing in front of everyone. Everyone had such a great time the whole week but the highlight was definitely climbing Cabeca de Velha (Old Head) mountain. It was a really intense climb and I definitely did not pack the right hiking clothes which became obvious at the bottom of the mountain when my sandal broke. Of course I didn’t have an extra pair so Charlotte convinced me to go to the first house and ask them to borrow some shoes. Three women were sitting outside in the yard and looked at me like I was crazy, but a man came up, took off his shoes, and insisted that I climb the mountain with them. I left my sandals there and promised to bring his back after. The climb was amazingly beautiful and the girls loved every second of it (although it was really steep, but definitely a good workout after all the delicious egg sandwiches and pastries they’d been feeding us for snack time). When I returned to give the man his shoes back, he had fixed my sandals by sewing the plastic back together. I was so overwhelmed by the generosity of this family- they didn’t ask me for anything in return, they just genuinely wanted to help me!

There was an amazing girl that I met at the conference and we quickly became friends. She sent me a message on the day we left and it pretty much sums up why I’m here (translated from Portuguese of course): “Your love and friendship marked me for all my life. I’m never going to forget you because I love you and will always have you in my heart.” This was one of the best weeks I’ve had in Mozambique so far and I can’t wait to start planning the next conference!

So the trip back… After such an amazing week of course something was bound to go wrong- but thankfully it was just an engine that kept overheating. The girls from Zambezia (my province) rented two chapas (van-type transportation) and we left at 4:30am on Saturday to make it back. The morning started with a flat tire and we ended up having to stop every 1-2 hours to add water to the engine that was overheating. And then the drivers decided that adding curry powder to the engines would solve all of its problems. We did make it home so maybe they’re on to something? The trip took 6 hours going and 13 hours coming back (and I was one of the closer drop-offs so I can’t even complain). I bought a bag of cashews on the road so I was pretty content despite the setbacks.

So another month down (May 1st marks 7 months in Mozambique which means only 4 months until my mom and brother come visit and 7 ½ months until I come home to visit for the holidays!) and all is well here! Especially since I just received 2 packages that were sent in January! Thanks dad and Judie for the wonderful gifts! I’ve been spoiled reading Time magazine while eating tofu and Jif peanut butter (but not together)! I am so lucky to have such amazing family and friends!

So I’ll leave you with a few words of wisdom that one of the REDES girls wrote in a note to her friend: “A sua vida nao e uma bolacha” translation: “Your life is not a cookie.” And some very wise words that one of the teachers told me while we were stopped on the side of the road in the rain with no restroom in sight “Quando vais no mato, xixi nao sai”: “when you go out into the bush, pee doesn’t come out,” maybe not the most elegant of phrases, but definitely words to live by here! Hope all is well at home!

Address

Jordan Rief, PCV
Corpo da Paz/U. S. Peace Corps
Av. Do Zimbabwe 345
CP 4398
Maputo
Mozambique

Disclaimer

The contents of this blog are my personal thoughts and opinions. They do not represent the views or official policies of the Peace Corps or of the U.S. government.

Peace Corps Moçambique