April 12, 2014

Catching up

First off, I would like to apologize for my lack of blogging for the past month(ish). I've been sick on and off for the past month so that has made me feel unmotivated to do anything, especially things not 100% necessary to living, therefore blogging was put at the end of my to-do list. 

Since my last post over a month ago, a lot has been going on.  The sequence of events is lost on me, because when I got sick for the first time all the days kind of blurred into one, but over the last month I met a lot of new volunteers at a gathering called Coesao and also lost another one of my colleagues at school.

Coesao is an event where all of the volunteers from the 3 central provinces of Mozambique come together to hang out.  We like to have Coesao a couple of times a year, the first being around March so that all of the older volunteers can meet the newest volunteers to the region.  Unfortunately because of political unrest Sofala province couldn't join us at our Coesao gathering, so it was just Manica and Tete.  The weekend was held at Casa Msika, which is located just on the other side of the main highway from the villa of Messica, so while others had a day’s worth of travel to arrive, I just had a 30 minute walk. J  Rough life.  The weekend was great fun!  Some people even saw the infamous giraffes that I've heard about since I arrived here but had started to believe were a grand myth.  I still have yet to see them, but I swear I will before I leave at the end of the year!

Sometime after Coesao, I got sick.  My throat was sore and raw and I couldn't speak very well or loudly. Because of this, it would have been pointless to go to class where I would have to scream over my students.  I sent work with my roommate to deliver to my classes, and settled in for a few days.  When my sore throat got better, I developed a horrible cold.  I couldn't say three words without sneezing.  More days at home.  More visitors wishing me well and telling me to stay at home until I was fully recovered.  More students making sure their ‘Professora’ was still alive and well.  The Monday of the following week, I showed up to school just to be told by the school’s director that I was not well enough to teach and I had to go home.  So.  Frustrating.

Sometime during the week after being very sick but before everyone accepted that I was better and ready to be working again, another tragedy struck our school community.  Another professor of physical education was hospitalized in Beira from being sick, and he suddenly died.  I actually knew this professor and his death was especially hard for the community, especially after the death of his physical education colleague not even a month earlier.

Professor Pontavida was always very friendly towards me…sometimes too friendly.  He was constantly seen around Messica in his cowboy hat to block the sun as he was out in the field giving his lessons in the heat.  He repeatedly insisted that I come to his house and go on walks with him.  He would call me incessantly, letting the phone ring for minutes each time.  He somehow didn't get that I was interested, so I had to invent a boyfriend that didn't want me to hang out with him or go to his house.  Slowly the calls and invitations stopped, and I was happy to be rid of the admirer.  I saw him about a month before his death, before left Messica to go to Beira to study.  We waved and had a short yet polite conversation. 

When I heard about his death, I was shocked.  He was so young, no older than 35.   He had such a kind heart.  I used to see him at church on Sunday’s.  I used to pass his classes when I walked to and from school.  I just didn't know how to feel, what to think, what to do about his death.  Some teachers pitched in money to give to his family, which I gladly contributed to.  Other teachers made the long journey to Beira for the funeral, which I chose not to do.  Honestly, we weren't that close, and I had a lot of ground to make up in my classes from my sick days.  Nonetheless, we are still dealing with the loss of his presence in our community.  We lost 2 out of 3 physical education teachers in one month, and I pray that everyone else stays well and our community doesn't experience any more loss in the near future. 

That brings us up to last weekend when I co-led a training for all of our JUNTOS counterparts in Manica, Sofala, and Tete provinces.  Being co-central coordinators, fellow PCV Taylor and I worked together for weeks planning the conference, and it was finally time to make it happen. 

My plan was to bring one of the French teachers from school to the training so that he could help me start a theater group with interested students.  Well, it so happened that his wife had her first baby a few days before the training, so  on Friday I got a message saying that he wouldn't be able to attend.  It just so happened that I was on a chapa, waiting for it to leave Messica for Chimoio.  Another colleague from school, Frio, got in and sat next to me.  As we got to chatting, he asked why I was going to Chimoio and I told him all about JUNTOS. Frio expressed his interest in the program (and Sarah and I had previously talked about how he would be a good counterpart), so I invited him to the training for the weekend.  He thought about it for a few minutes and then excitedly accepted!  It all worked out and I had a counterpart for the weekend after all!

My counterpart, Frio, and I at the JUNTOS training!

Counterparts and PCVs arrived in Chimoio on Friday – the same day that my colleague agreed to attend the training.  The conference started on Friday afternoon with us talking about what JUNTOS is, our objectives, and trading experiences from the existing JUNTOS groups.  We have a few wonderful counterparts in our region that are doing excellent things, and it’s always inspiring to hear them talk about their groups.  Then Saturday was filled with sessions about community events, workshop planning, workshop sessions, and how to evaluate your group.  Saturday evening, we finished our training by handing out certificates and taking lots and LOTS of pictures.  Though we were thrown a couple of curve balls during the weekend, Taylor and I took them in stride, and I would say that the training was definitely a success!

On Sunday, upon arriving back in Messica, I got really sick again.  I had a fever and a horrible piercing stomach pain.  Monday was Mozambican Women’s day, and I laid in bed all day feeling awful.  Tuesday, I was advised to go into Chimoio to be checked out at the clinic, and on Wednesday I found out that I have an intestinal infection.  Currently I am on day 4 of antibiotics, and I’m only feeling stomach pain every now and again. 

Last weekend I submitted my application to volunteer with Christian Appalachian Project for a year beginning in January 2015.  I volunteered with them in March of 2012 for their Workfest program through Ohio State, and absolutely loved the work they were doing repairing homes in Appalachia.  I have volunteered with Habitat for Humanity in the past and I love it.  I’m hoping to be selected to be a part of the home repair crew permanently for the year of 2015.  If not, I’m hoping to work with the youth services program that CAP also offers.  We’ll see what God has in store for me post-Peace Corps, but I’m really excited, and I really feel like CAP will be the right fit for me after my Peace Corps journey.

And though this blog post has been a little bit all over the place, I would like to mention one more majorly important thing:

In Messica, Sarah and I are trying to raise money to build benches and tables around our school grounds.  There is currently one (I repeat ONE) concrete bench for some 2500 students, 70 teachers, and thousands of community members.  Our grant got approved, all we need is the funding to make this happen.  If you or anyone would like to donate to our project, we will be SO grateful.  Here is the link!


  1. I am so happy to hear you might volunteer with CAP!!!! I love reading your post and hearing how things are going, so proud of you and everything you have done! Praying for you always sister! <3