These 1 day old twins, Rabia and Momace, with mum and gran are in remarkably good health. They were born in the Naunde health centre yesterday and are being let home today. Mum looks tired but who can blame her? They are so small but so cute. Sadly in the Naunde health clinic 2 babies have died in child birth this week: there are so many good news stories here but so much more work to be done.
Development and living in another culture is never easy but sometimes it’s so rewarding. After a meeting about the new school build in Crimize the chefe de aldeia stood up, as always, and gave his thanks to us for our work and encouraged the village to make the most of the opportunities we offer. As we shook hands as I was leaving, he said “estamos juntos”, “we are together”, and that’s why we stay out here doing what we do: because people like the chefe de Crimize are worth it and make the most of the help we offer, leading his people to uma boa vida.
A few weeks ago I discovered Nema’s Abudu actually spoke quite good English when he hosted one of the lodge’s guests. When challenged to speak more and improve he said he had no dictionary and nowhere to practice.
When we were with the eye doctor a few weeks ago I noticed that many of the older ladies, kids, and pregnant women were struggling to climb the enormous step to the clinic, even worse, it was dangerous to get down the “step” aka ledge. So, with some left over bricks we built an intermediate step. Simple, easy, cheap, important, potentially lifesaving; a perfect intervention in our little community. Here the Nema team demonstrate how easy it is to climb down the steps now!
My paper making experiment is now a project for the meninas (girls) in the orphans and vulnerable children project
A very cool guest, Dr Susan, arrived a few weeks ago with a fractured elbow. Without the car at the time she walked all the way to Naunde with me to meet the local nurse, midwife and see conditions in the village.
Guests enjoying a game of frisbee with the orphans and vulnerable children!
Last Thursday night the head guard arrived at my room at 1800 to inform us that one of the guards had been bitten by a snake. Being the one first aider here I did minimal first aid and rushed him to the local clinic in the Nema car. Luckily he survived and is now well into his recovery.
Everywhere I go I get told by the old people that I’m to help them to see again. Miracle worker I am not, but practical solution finder: sometimes. So, after a lot of emails, via Northern Ireland, America and some other places I got in touch with technico Sergio, my new best friend eye doctor.
Our new partner NGO is entirely Mozambican, a sign of progress in itself. Set up by one of the most driven people I’ve ever met, Bashir, they have a wide range of capabilities and knowledge. This week we tapped into their knowledge of hygiene and sanitation. In four of the villages that Nema support there are no latrines at all. This is because the sand is so soft that the local people say that they cannot dig a latrine hole that stays open due to the sand falling into the hole. Not anymore.
Beans being prepared at one of the local primary schools… The school feeding programme encourages school attendance and provides a nutritious meal to every student every school day!
I have seen a lot of bad “gender equality” projects, especially in Afghanistan where the culture is not ready for certain projects and it can be more detrimental to empowerment to force it on a culture not ready for women’s rights than it can be to try to do “gender-based” projects by well-meaning but misguided amateurs. The underlying principle of development being Do no Harm, we at Nema try to do all of our projects in slow and understated but effective way.
It’s something we take for granted but dirty drinking water kills over here. Some people boil their water but many drink straight from the wells or, worse, the “natural watering holes”. But not for much longer in our little world: for just $15, paid over 3 months, we are selling water filters that clean the dirty water of germs and bacteria leaving the water safe to drink and potentially saving lives, especially of young children. We have been using these filters in the lodge for a month now for guests and staff, and they are great. When we first demonstrated them to the staff they said it was witchcraft, but now they have faith in the science. We’ve started selling them to the staff at the start of a publicity campaign that we hope takes off locally to reach all of the local people with clean drinking water.
The school feeding programme is such an important part of what we do here that it’s been heartbreaking not to feed the kids for a term as the factory that makes the corn soya blend has been closed. However, one door shuts and another opens and all that and we managed this week to get maize meal and pigeon pea for the kids. I’m reliably informed by people who know more than me that pigeon pea is uber-nutritious and therefore great for the kids. And a bit different than the plain xima they normally eat. This week Dona Amina and I have distributed to all of the schools in the programme and are looking forward to seeing the kids grow healthy and well fed for the rest of the term.
“Working not begging” is a phrase I really admire from Big Issue founder John Bird, it has an air of dignity about it, and self-help with a little bit of ‘you can help me to help myself’ added in. That’s what we’re trying to do here at Nema - help people help themselves. Sometimes that’s hard here as there are so few opportunities, but we are trying to generate some and this is the first step.