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Working together…

posted in: 2011, Mozambique - No Comments

June 24, 2011

Working together for better care for orphans and vulnerable children

Market streetHello from Quelimane, Mozambique! My internship partner Marques and I have now relocated from Maxixe to Quelimane for the second project of our internship. But before I tell you about that, a little bit about what I’ve been up to since I last wrote.

During our field visits with IRD’s local partner organizations, we noted the many unfulfilled needs of the orphans and vulnerable children in the province of Inhambane. We also met with government representatives who oversee programs with orphans and vulnerable children. They told us that they did not have a lot of information on these children in the province, and they would be happy to receive data on them from organizations such as IRD and its partners which are implementing programs to support them. READ MORE

Craft, art, and creativity in unexpected places

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June 10, 2011

A child demonstrates on the apparatus used to make woven reed mats

Mozambicans engage in a number of crafts for everyday purposes. For instance, when we have been out in the field, we often see homes with an interesting-looking apparatus for the weaving of reed mats (see picture). This is something that can be done at home with readily available materials, so it seems that many families just make their own mats rather than spending scarce money to buy one. For me, who can’t even mend a shirt, this is pretty impressive. I get excited and ask to take pictures, and people very kindly indulge me.

Even more impressive than the homemade reed mats are the houses and walls, which are constructed from extremely tightly woven palm fronds or reeds. I asked my IRD coworkers and they told me that these palm/reed houses can be constructed in less than a week, and then they last about 5 years. Wow. READ MORE

On Fertile Ground

posted in: 2011, Mozambique - 1 Comment

In the 30 days since my arrival in Mozambique I have witnessed the tremendous impact IRD is making in the lives of persons who participate in their programs. From the corporate headquarters in Washington DC to the various offices throughout the provinces, one can’t help but be impressed with the coordinated effort that unites donors and beneficiaries in such a transformative way. IRD’s effort to reduce the burden of mortality and morbidity caused by HIV/AIDS has been a textbook example of transforming communities. Their motto of ‘Improving Lives…Building Livelihoods’ is appropriate since so much of their work seems to focus on helping individuals by strengthening the existing communities in which they live. By giving technical support and forming partnerships with dozens of neighborhood associations, local CBOs, provincial health departments, non-governmental and governmental organizations alike, IRD provides a more sustainable and measurable impact in the local community. From the dozens of orphaned children whose parent(s) have died from AIDS to the local farmers learning new methods in agriculture, IRD has helped to improve their lives through strengthening local capacities and experiencing community with those they aim to serve. READ MORE

Out in the field

posted in: 2011, Mozambique - 2 Comments

June 9, 2011

Dirt road to field site.

I have been in the town of Maxixe about two weeks now, working with the IRD office here. For our project, and also because this is the “fun stuff” of development work, I have been trying to go out in the field as much as possible.

First, a little more about our project in Maxixe with IRD’s program for orphans and vulnerable children. Mozambique is deeply affected by HIV/AIDS, with a national prevalence of 15% and a prevalence in the southern region (where Maxixe is located) of 21%. READ MORE

Getting Started

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June 6, 2011

Our first week as IRD interns began in Washington, DC at the IRD headquarters. During that week, we learned about the different sectors of IRD, such as logistics, health, infrastructure, and community development. IRD does such diverse work in the area of development. It was fascinating for me as a public health student to learn more about projects in other development sectors, and I can’t wait to see some of these programs at work in Mozambique.

Also during our week at IRD headquarters, my internship partner, Marques, and I learned more about the projects we will work on. First, we will be working with a program caring for orphans and vulnerable children through partner organizations in the province of Inhambane. We will help to create guides for volunteers working with these organizations to better meet the special needs of vulnerable children. This might include assuring that they have identification documents, access to school, and proper nutrition. READ MORE

This is Africa

posted in: 2011, Mozambique - 4 Comments

Marques Harvey

“This is Africa,” was the greeting my Emory colleague and I received upon our arrival to the Maputo International Airport.  This common euphemism is one used by citizens and expatriates alike to describe the diversity of experiences one may encounter in a continent renowned for its rich complexities.  For me, this journey to the motherland meant the end of a 30-year gestational period in which a dream conceived by curiosity and cultural longing would finally be born into reality. Finally, this Africa I had read about, studied about, learned about and taught about—I was now here. It’s by being here and experiencing Africa personally that I can really appreciate the value in my theological training.

Mozambique shown in green on a map of the African continent.

Mozambique shown in green on a map of the African continent.

In the field of biblical criticism one of the more popular methods of critiquing the Bible is to analyze it from three worldviews: a historical perspective, a literary perspective and an ideological (or situational) perspective. The historical view gives the reader/audience an understanding of what was happening at the time in which the text was written/depicted. The literary view helps us understand the particular nuances within the biblical text focusing on the placement of the texts and how they read. The ideological view helps us to understand not only what the text means and who wrote it, but allows for interpretations other than the original editor/writer’s to include the voice(s) of the reader. READ MORE

Well…it’s not quite that easy.

posted in: 2010, Mozambique - No Comments

One of those most concrete benefits provided by IRD’s orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) program is the distribution of food to children’s families. Each month the World Food Program provides enough food for the families of the children in the program to eat for about one to two weeks, reducing each family’s burden of providing food. It’s a great help to the families, and seems simple enough, considering the food is already being provided. If one group of people has food and wants to give it to another group of people, it should be an easy task to ship it from one place to another. Unfortunately however, it is much more difficult and complex than that.

For food to make it into a child’s bowl at dinnertime, it must first be shipped into Mozambique through one of two major ports. This is, of course, assuming that the food that has actually been harvested and has not been diverted to another emergency situation. Once in the port, the food then must be shipped to central warehouses. Again, this seems simple enough except that paved roads are a limited commodity in Mozambique. I live right next to the EN1, the nation’s major national highway, which in Maxixe is a well paved road, but two hours south becomes a bumpy dirt path that is perpetually under construction. Blown tires and tipping are common for passenger vehicles, not to mention large trucks carrying tons of food. READ MORE

Worth a Thousand Words

posted in: 2010, Mozambique - No Comments

Josh and Lisa are working with IRD to develop a home-based care service for orphans and vulnerable children in Mozambique. They sent us these photographs to create a visual context of their daily life, surroundings, and work with IRD in Mozambique’s Inhambane province.

Community activists role play hygiene education at a training in Homoine.

A boy in IRD's orphan/vulnerable children program receives a prize at the Children's Day celebration on June 1st. The World Conference for the Well-Being of Children in Geneva, Switzerland, proclaimed June 1 to be International Children's Day in 1925. The day is celebrated in scores of countries throughout the world.

Community activists prepare lunch for 100 children on Children's Day.

Children’s Day Video


Experiencing community

posted in: 2010, Mozambique - No Comments

“Community” is quite the buzzword in the American church. Churches strive to reach out to the communities in which they are located, and strain to foster community within the congregation. Small groups, circles, core groups or whatever name you prefer, are all the rage because they help develop a sense community among members. We struggle to create community, because it is such a struggle to find community in a society of personal automobiles, self-serve checkouts, and schedules that are too busy to allow time for family, much less a larger community outside of those few people for whom you care most.

Coming out of the American culture where community is a struggle, when visiting a country like Mozambique, I am always amazed at how organically community is here. Despite—or maybe because of—all of our Western technical expertise, there are certain aspects of life we will never understand as well as our neighbors in other parts of the world. After meeting my neighbor Sulemane for the first time on the Wednesday I arrived in Maxixe (the town in which I’ll be working while I’m here), we became immediate friends. Three days later Sulemane, my colleague Lisa, her Mozambican friend Orlando, and I were taking a day trip to the beach. We joked and laughed, talked about work and life, and shared a meal and snacks together as if we had known one another for several years, not just a few hours. The next day we were at it again, acting like best friends strolling through the streets of Maxixe. A week later Sulemane, Lisa, and I were again exploring the city and taking a short ride to the next town over, just to have something to do as we passed the hours together. All of this stemmed from a brief introduction by the IRD secretary. READ MORE

Countries within a country

posted in: 2010, Mozambique - No Comments

We’re here! It was a long trip, but after traveling for 28 hours and navigating our way through 4 different airports, we were able to set foot in Mozambique. I am fortunate enough to have done work in this country a few years ago, which was when I first fell in love with Mozambique. I feel extremely blessed to be able to return and work in a new and challenging capacity. In our first two weeks here, we have spent time in Maputo, Maxixe, and Cambine; three places that could very well be three separate countries.

Maputo (pronounced “ma-poo-too”)

We spent our first three days in Maputo, receiving a warm welcome from the IRD staff and a brief orientation to the country and the work that is being done here. Compared to the rest of the country, the capital city seems to exist in a world of its own. Roads are well-paved (comparatively), multi-storied buildings are abundant, and traffic jams occur on a regular basis. Almost any food craving can be satisfied, from freshly caught prawns to pepperoni pizza and mint-chocolate chip ice cream. And if you walk through certain neighborhoods with well-kept yards and shiny new cars, you’d never guess that 75% of the country survives on less than $1.25 a day. But just like with most large cities, there is a large economic disparity between its inhabitants, and the slums can be found just a few blocks down from the mansions. READ MORE