Our very own Dona Rema looks after the orphans and vulnerable children project in Naunde where she lives. Recently her own niece was orphaned and Dona Rema took in Pequena Rema. Pequena (little) Rema is a feisty soul and enjoys life to the full. She’s a handful for Rema whose own children are all grown up and live away from home these days. But Dona Rema takes it all in her stride, she must be used to it with the number of kids outside her house every day. Sometimes Pequena Rema comes to Nema Monday meetings, she always makes noise about something, we’re grooming her for a job with us in a few years’ time.
A NGO partner from town came to a meeting with us and kindly left us 6,000 condoms for distribution to our staff. Not wanting to miss an opportunity to educate we took the opportunity to entice the staff of both Guludo Lodge and Nema into some HIV training with the promise of free condoms at the end of the session. Never ones to miss the something for nothing opportunity and even better, an hour off work, the staff all turned up. Nema’s own Amina and Abudu carried out the training with their captive audience. It’s always good to reinforce messages and even those who think they know it all can learn something. It’s difficult to know whether to laugh or cry when the first question is “if my wife has HIV should I just go get another?” but the safe sex message was reiterated and the information that tests and drugs have recently been made available to all in the local clinic is invaluable so if that’s all everyone learned we have passed on a good message. We definitely knew to smile when 7 months pregnant Sephalina pocketed her condoms saying she would guard them till she needed hers!
Sometimes you just meet the nicest people: after his recent graduation from agricultural college Rafael Kalachinga turned up on our doorstep (figuratively anyway) last week to bring Nema a bag of tomatoes and cabbage from his own fields, and 3 orange tree saplings, again that he had grown himself just to say thanks to Nema for giving him an opportunity. Now planted in the lodge the Nema saplings are going to be a reminder of the first ever Nema sponsored students to pass agricultural college.
For our orphans’ project in the local village of Naunde, Eid is a double celebration: the religious celebration is complimented by a gift from Nema. Yesterday we took our truck load of gifts for the 200 orphans to the village. Another parade of screaming happy kids greeted us as we arrived at Rema’s house. We had bought 45kg of children’s clothing, 240 bars of soap and lots of notebooks and pencils as well as some adult clothes donated by some guests and 100 pairs of girls pants! Despite the rabble the kids were really well behaved and team leader Assane marshalled the process whilst the “management” took photos and played with the kids. It’s such a small gesture really but something which made the lives of the kids just a little bit better for a while and gave them a day when they are not the most disadvantaged in this very ravaged comunity, and that’s part of why we’re here. Overall a fun day and a lot of happy faces.
Our secondary school students are back for holidays, though it’s not all brincadera (fun). Marieke, my predecessor, started the community service programme for all of the Nema scholars. It’s a 4 day programme, one day of training in a health related subject and 3 days of community projects involving a bit of sweat and dirt: what more could a group of teenagers wish for with no chip shop to hang out at and no booze at the “discotecha”?
This new mother and her baby girl have come a long way in the past couple of months. At the beginning of June Amina was rushed to hospital in Pemba - a 6 hour ambulance journey - to give birth as she needed a blood transfusion. The day after her problematic labour she was discharged from hospital with a tin of milk formula as she wasn’t producing any breast milk. Things were not looking good for Amina and baby Zoura; Amina was very sick and shaken up following her traumatic experience, and even if there was somewhere nearby to buy milk formula there is no way the family could afford it. Amina, who is around 14 years old, is an orphan and lives with her grandmother. The father of the baby is out of the picture. Luckily, Rema (who looks after the orphaned and vulnerable children and the pregnant women in Naunde village) was looking out for them and it wasn’t long before we managed to find a donor to fund the milk formula for the baby. Lina Stahl has very kindly been sponsoring Zoura through the orphaned and vulnerable children program and it has made all the difference for this little family. The transformation in both mother and baby has been absolutely incredible - a BIG nishikuru (thank you) all the way from Naunde! And a little reminder that you can all donate here:http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/charities/nemafoundation
Here are some of the orphaned and vulnerable children of Naunde proudly showing off their masterpieces - cars and lorries made from bamboo from the bush, fizzy drinks cans and cut up flip-flops for the wheels!
The happy schoolchildren of Pangane…There’s always a scramble when the camera comes out!
In 2013 Nema installed five new water pumps in five villages – Guludo,
Naunde, Nambija, Napala and Lumuamua. As part of the agreement, the
local communities are responsible for setting up a water committees who
we train to carry out any repairs and maintenance on the pump. The pumps provide hundreds, if not thousands of litres of safe water to these communities and the heavy use means they need regular tlc. Three of the pumps needed some maintenance and last week the spare parts arrived and with the help of the committees in each village, the pumps are now as good as new. Our next task is to source the spare parts and keep a supply here so that the communities are able to take full responsibility over the management and repair of their pumps.
We love checking up on the wonderful agricultural association in Nagulue and rewarding their hard work by providing some business for them! We bought everything that was ready – lots of tomatoes and aubergines – to sell to the lodge and to the staff. Its great to see a growing interest in different types of foods which add some variety and nutrition to the staple diet of rice and beans. The staff were very excited about the tomatoes and they were all sold within minutes!
Now the agricultural associations need to boost their supply of vegetables as the demand is certainly present. Unfortunately in Rueia, Ningaia and Nambo all the seeds planted by the association were washed away by the heavy rains this January, leaving the members demoralised and demotivated. Rueia’s association were extremely successful last year and were able to invest in tools and equipment for their machamba (farm). We agreed to help them out by providing some seeds (as they are very hard to come by in the local communities) in return for a few kilos of tomatoes and lots of hard work. Hopefully we’ll have a steady stream of produce from all of the revitalised associations in the coming months!
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?
As the new Directora I’ve been trying to get out and about, understand my AOR (Area of Responsibility, you can take the girl out of the military but not the military out of the girl) and the problems that go with it. I’ve also been trying to understand my staff, the work they do and how they do it. To this end I spent most of last Thursday with Dona Rema, our traditional birthing assistant. Rema’s job is 2-fold: to look after the pregnant women in her village of Naunde, about 8km away from Guludo, and to visit the orphans in the village and give them emotional support, ensuring that they are not being mistreated.
Last week the Nema team visited a group of our secondary school scholars in a town called Mueda. During the Portuguese colonisation of Mozambique Mueda was the site of a massacre of local civilians by the Portuguese army. Now it’s a thriving town that does not have a source of water. Water is trucked into town, for the whole town from 2 sources many km away. Nema sponsor 44 students at Mueda secondary school in years 11 and 12. All bar one are boys and they are aged up to 22. They were a really nice bunch of kids who were working hard to create opportunities for themselves to get jobs in the future, for most that means vocational training in health, agriculture or teaching in schools even further away from home. It costs us about $200 a year to support these hardworking and determined youngsters, most of whom want to come back to their villages and work to help out their friends and family.
Today we harvested the first tomatoes and aubergines of the season from the Nagalue agricultural association that we support. The 2 head men of the association are so proud of their achievements this year. Despite last year’s drought and this year’s torrential rains which have wiped out much of the local crops, this hard working group have potatoes, onions and cabbage still to harvest in fields which look like they’re going to produce some great food for the lodge and the local people, already Nema’s team leader purchased tomatoes for his family and the lodge staff were asking to buy too. We will continue to visit these guys as we love them and their attitude and hope to see them make loads of money this year, and add some nutritious items to the diet of the local people too.
Replying to an advert on Escape the City, little did I know that it would lead to a new job in one of the most stunning places I’ve seen in the world. Guludo Beach Lodge’s charity arm The Nema Foundation was advertising for a General Manager, though I much prefer my local moniker: Directora!
Today the Nema team made it to one of the southernmost villages that we support, Mipande. Due to the heavy rains the road has been closed this year and this was the first time access has been available to us. As we arrived in the village a chant of “matafome, matafome” began and the afternoon’s sitting of school children followed the truck until we got to the school where they were joined in their singing by the class 2 children. Matafome is Nema’s school feeding programme where we provide a nutritious meal a day for the children who attend school. It was patently obvious from the joy on the children’s’ faces how much this means to them and how invaluable the school feeding programme is. The beauty of the “class inicio” (first years) sitting still in their lines (there are no desks or chairs at the school) contrasts with the excitement of those older children who know how great the matafome is for them every day.
Rema is a crucial member of the Nema team. She’s known locally now as “mama wayatima” - mother to the orphans - and is responsible for the well being of 151 orphaned and vulnerable children. She visits them all at least once a week and makes sure they are well cared for by their extended family, are healthy and are attending school while providing them with loving support.
A few years old now, but a great video about some of our work in the communities where we work.