This week I’ve been trying to get to the villages I’ve not yet seen to complete my initiation. With Nema worker Manual and new volunteer Gemma I cycled to Nambo. Thursday had been a lovely cool day and it had rained Thursday night, Friday – the day we were to cycle – was already hot when we set off at 8. By the time Gemma and I met Manuel, it was hot, damned hot! By the time we got to Nambo we were sweltering, by the time we returned to Mucojo we had called the car to come pick us and our bikes up and take us to our lunch! What did we do before mobile phones?
Manuel has been working full time for Nema since 2010, before that he was a community volunteer. His main projects are in hygiene and sanitation and he looks after the agricultural scholars at Bilibeza school.
Nambo is another beautiful village by the sea where most people make their living from fishing. It’s a typical village that Nema supports, except it’s not. It’s got a great help-ourselves attitude and a really positive vibe.
The school was actually built by the government, is in good condition and has chairs, tables, books and, most importantly, teachers and students beavering away for the day. The director took time out for our visit as, as always, the children clamoured out of the window yelling Mzungu Bom Dia. The director was really positive about the school, and extremely proactive. His biggest concern was not with what we could give him (the most common concern) but with poor attendance records. He maintained a list of children who had missed school for one week or more and visited the parents of each. Children don’t go to school for a variety of reasons here: illness, being needed in the household to do chores, and of course, general laziness as we see in our own countries. But, a proactive response to getting kids to school and a positive attitude to the school from the director. We also met the battleaxe female teacher whose strident voice we had heard on our approach. I DO LIKE GOOD DISCIPLINE…….
We also spoke to the Chefe de Aldeia who was at the beach (a small trek compared to our ride but still, a trek). We were guided on the trek by a half blind old man who did keep asking the Mzungu for help: more on cataracts next time.
The Chefe was also very cool. Manuel was there to talk to him about the Nema latrine slab project. During the Nema hygiene and sanitation training in 2012/13 it was discovered that people did not like to have latrines as they were open topped and that was considered to be unclean and attracted flies etc. Nema devised a concrete slab project where the communities could buy a concrete latrine slab to cover the latrine: Manuel made and sold 66 slabs last year and this is the second time around for the 16 villages we support. It was hoped that the people would be enthused by others who had the slabs and then would want one for themselves.
A latrine slab
Nambo is a different case. The ground is soft and it is impossible to dig a hole deep enough for a latrine that can take the weight of a slab without collapsing. But, I cry, the school has latrines so it’s possible. The response is yes, the school has latrines but they are lined with bricks. Hmmm, that does make them a bit expensive! So, another plan? We have worked before with another NGO in Pemba who did some hygiene and sanitation training, we think that they have a way of building latrines and reinforcing them with local material, great, put them on my list of people to call in on in Pemba.
Despite the difficulties the Chefe declared that if we could help with a design, maybe make a demonstration one in the village, that he would be the first person to build a latrine and buy a slab. I LOVE LEADERSHIP BY EXAMPLE……………………….
Chefe de Aldeia do Nambo
Our last stop: the Nema sponsored agricultural association: I’m poised for doom and gloom as of the 5 that I’ve visited so far only one has managed to grow anything this year. We meet a young man, Amisse, whose smiley face is good to see, I explain that I bring nothing with me but am collecting information and then will be making plans. I’m told the same story as before, drought followed by crazy rains mean that things are difficult. And then the story changes, Amisse had bought seeds from his own money on condition that if things grew he got paid back first (fair enough), he had planted the seeds he bought and things were growing. I nearly hugged him. I DO LIKE PEOPLE WHO WORK FOR THE TEAM…………………………….
So, with Nambo as my new favourite place I called for the car, I really wasn’t going to tackle that sandy road again! I couldn’t decide whether to blame my weakness on my recent bout of malaria or on Gemma’s need to acclimatise, at the top of the hill to Mucojo I didn’t care it was just weakness.