Friday, June 5, 2015

Terra de Boa Gente

They say the last six months of your Peace Corps service fly by. I'm not sure who 'they' are but I beg to differ. These next six months are gonna drag by...just like the months between finding out my date to arrive in Mozambique and actually getting here. I've already bought my ticket home and after a day in Berlin I'll be back on American soil by November 22nd! Knowing that no one short of God Himself can keep me here past that day elates me, but then I remember I've still got six months left and that's enough to mellow me out to just above apathy. Here I will hover and try to squeeze in as many adventures as possible and finish up all of my projects before leaving...all the while dreaming of cheeseburgers and pedicures.

So in celebration of the light at the end of the tunnel finally arriving, I'll update you on some things that have been going on around here. A while back I wrote a grant to fund a musical production group called POSITIVO to come Panda to create and record a song about malaria with some of my students. The group travels all over the country with their sound and video equipment to get young people involved in spreading positive messages to their peers and communities through music. A few weeks ago we were able to bring them here and the result was fantastic. The kids
collaboratively wrote a chorus and individually wrote their own verses. They then performed them over a beat that POSITIVO made and it sounds pretty darn cool. The song is in Portuguese, but the basic message is that we can overcome malaria together if we're not neglectful. After recording the music, they filmed a music video and also performed at our school during the morning break, which was awesome and made them all feel like rockstars.

Two weeks ago we had our provincial workshop for REDES, the girl's empowerment organization I work with. At the workshop all the groups and group leaders from across the province got together to talk about everything from income generation techniques to women's health. I brought along the girls in my group and I was so impressed with them. They had no fear about asking questions that would have surely embarrassed me too much to ask at their age. They also knew so much more than I expected them to about sex, HIV, domestic violence, and how to be successful in business ventures. One of them, Tarcia, was reading ahead and taking notes in her workbook, and when I asked her why she replied that she was "cheating" so that nobody could say that Mana Cara didn't teach the girls from Panda enough. I laughed out loud at that, but it also really touched me. I'm very lucky to be a friend to these awesome girls and to help them make good decisions to become independent and successful women in a place where most girls unfortunately will never have that chance. Also during the workshop the tshirts I designed for this year were unveiled! They have our emblem on the front and on the back they say "I AM....Strong, Capable, Beautiful, Active, Intelligent, Determined, Valuable...I AM A GIRL."

This past weekend I went to Bushfire, a music festival in Swaziland. I've never been to any of the big music fests in the States, but it was definitely a great first experience. There were a lot of local performers from Swazi, South Africa, and Moz but there were also some international groups I've never heard of that I immediately hit up on iTunes upon returning home. Aside from great music for 48 straight hours, the food was enough to make me never want to leave. I had a burrito for the first time since coming here, and there were even a bunch of American dudes with a corndog stand, complete with a lifesized cardboard cutout of Obama holding a corndog. I don't even like corndogs that much, but I definitely ate a few of those for old times sake. Not all new experiences are good, though. I woke up Saturday morning to find 1,000 people in line for about 6 private showers. The other option was the communal outdoor shower, or a partially tarped off area where you can take a freezing cold shower in the mud with a bunch of strangers while even more strangers and random workers on tractors pass by the exposed side. So, since my pride and patience have both been worn pretty thin so far by living the Peace Corps life, I said to hell with it and stripped down. If there was any argument left for how "hippie" I've become, that probably sealed the deal.

On my way back home from the festival, I relied on the kindness of strangers to get me back to Panda. On the final leg of my travel, the driver said upon entering Inhambane Province, "Terra de Boa Gente!" That's our province's slogan, kind of like the "City of Brotherly Love" or "Georgia on My Mind," and it means Land of Good People. It's true. The people I live with are my family. My neighbors, my colleagues, the guy at the post office, strangers on the street...they will all go out of their way to help you out as if they've known you forever. Good people with big hearts that show compassion and generosity towards others...that's what I'll miss most about this place. But I've still got six months to enjoy it! Not to mention projects to manage, lessons to plan, and reports to file, and yeah I'm gonna go ahead and stop procrastinating now. Ate ja!

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