Wednesday, July 30, 2008

sticky fingers

And so it has begun - the final trimester of the year. I started off on a bit of a sour note with one of my turmas yesterday. I had made these verb strips for them to find the other people in their verb groups and at the end of the activity, four verb strips were missing. We have a problem here of people just taking things because they can. It's not even something that's worth anything - I mean, who wants a piece of paper that just says 'sat' on it? Not I. So after asking and asking and asking for the 4 missing strips of paper, no one was turning it in. It's not that I was upset about losing the paper, but that these kids don't have respect for the material and have no problem with dishonesty. The chefe of the turma started walking around and searching people's bags for the strips but nothing turned up. I even threatened a falta vermelha (the worst kind of indisciplinado there is - even written in, gasp, red pen) and then a falta collectiva (the whole class is considered absent) but no one fessed up. So I gave them a falta collectiva. One girl finally gave up a verb strip. I was just going to let it slide without a fuss but then I saw her laughing about it. That's when I told her to get out, throwing her notebooks out the door in front of her. It's so frustrating. I was talking to students about it and I told them that if one person takes things that aren't theirs, they are slowing the development and achievements of other people as well. That turma has a lesson on corruption coming their way that involves beans.

Otherwise, my time in Maputo was just what I needed. Maputo was brilliant. I got to eat a lot of junk food and watch a movie in a theater. My portuguese is suffering as a result now. I basically only spoke in english for an entire week, being around only americans. So now I stumble when I talk and get weird looks from my students. Oh well. It'll come back around.

I got a bunch of ideas for my REDES group during the meeting. We are going to learn how to open a bank account this next week. I'm also trying to organize for a local female doctor to come to talk to them and possibly do some HIV testing. I'm also excited to start planning the northern regional conference for next April. I think I may already have one facilitator lined up and a possible counterpart for here in Monapo. She's a primary school teacher with an embroidering group and it'd be a good way to get my older girls working with younger girls. For the conference, it'd be wonderful to find a woman who works at the university to come and talk to the girls about their options. This will require some more investigation on my part too. So many possibilities!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

shredded lettuce, but not the fancy kind in the bag

I think our DVD player is now broken...and so is my heart. Maybe it's a good thing that it broke because it forces me to read more. It's nice at the end of the day to sit down and numb my mind for a couple hours. I'm not going to lie.

My friend and I were just on Ilha for a few days, visiting with three other volunteers. It was a good time all around, full of pasta salad, hummus, fried calamari and real coffee. Whenever I have access to nicer food, I never know how to pace myself and then I regret it about two hours later. I was in a permanent state of fullness all weekend and I didn't know how to handle it. Food and I have a turbulent relationship at times these days. I am pretty fond of Ilha though. The dusty ancient streets, the beautiful capulanas and the history. I want to buy a book on the old slave trade from Nampula's coast from an Ilha bookstore when I have enough money.

Timba stayed in Monapo, of course. I left him under the care of our embrigada and she does a pretty good job with him. I usually will give her extra money - half beforehand and half afterwards when I come back and he has a pulse. The funny part is that I walked into the kitchen and our fridge was completely empty and open. While I was gone, he had succeeded in opening the fridge and pulling out all of its contents, strewing them across the kitchen floor. My embrigada explained it all to me this morning with a lot of sighing and eye-rolling. I guess he got into some jam, shredded up some lettuce and chewed the end off of a spoon. He's got mad skills when it comes to destruction. I am not looking forward to the state of our kitchen when I return from Maputo.

We also talked with the school to have a guard watch our house at night while we are away. We have iron bars on our windows and doors but that doesn't automatically make them give up. I talked with the guard last night and it is funny how he started out the conversation with 'I slept here the other night.' He didn't even say 'I was the guard here the other night.' He's not as snazzy as our last guard. He doesn't have a slingshot. Oh well, we'll take him. Usually, as long as someone is present, no one will mess with the house. I don't tell anyone I'm leaving because then word spreads and everyone knows no one is home. I am telling everyone that I'm staying for all of break but I'll leave at 5 tomorrow morning when it's still dark and no one sees me. Very cloak of darkness and everything but it's the best deterent for theft.

I am heading down to Maputo tomorrow for our REDES planning meeting and I come back on Sunday. REDES is our girls' group that a bunch of PCVs and counterparts have across the nation. We are planning for next year's conference and what that holds in store. I think we are still uncertain as to whether it will be three separate regional conferences (south, central, north) or one main, national conference. They both have pros and cons in terms of transportation, cost and planning. It'll be nice to hear what other groups are doing to get more ideas for my girls and to see friends from other provinces. Another plus is that it is in Maputo, the land of western food options, so my turbulent relationship with food is likely to continue on through the week.

School starts on Monday and I have yet to plan out what the last trimester holds in store. I have a feeling it will fly by, much like the two other trimesters. School will be done by the end of October and then break is until the beginning of February. I'll be back in the states for a visit for all of December and a little bit of January - something I'm extremely excited about and look forward to. That's only a little over four months away now. This month is our tenth month in Mozambique and it's gone by quickly. I'll be home in no time to rejuvenate for my second year. I already have a list of food I plan to eat. The first on my list is, of course, cheese curds.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Pictures! Pictures! Pictures!

I love this picture. My students saw I had the camera and they were like 'take our picture!' and then immediately hopped on a teacher's bike and put on sunglasses. The boy in the front is holding up a plastic rose. They look like a boyband.

Here's Timba - the devil incarnate, striking fear into the hearts of Mozambicans everywhere.

Me and the REDES girls in front of our display in the library. They designed what they wanted to be after school and behind them, the sign says 'I am a girl. My future is bright!'

Girls in my REDES group working on their embroidering.

A small group of my students during supermodel documentary hour. They love posing for the camera.

The REDES conference in Chimoio last April. It was a lot of fun and gave girls from all over Mozambique a chance to meet each other and learn about different things, such as health, women's rights, income-producing projects and an opportunity to take part in fun activities.

Our house in Monapo. It's pretty comfortable and 80% cement, 20% zinc roof and 100% awesome (which I suppose equals 200% but I'm no math teacher). Makes it difficult to hear when it rains though. We have our two bedrooms on the left side of the house and then the front porch, kitchen and backroom on the right-hand side. We have a fence surrounding our house, giving us some privacy. Our yard can get very matu (bush) pretty quickly.

And I promise to add more soon! Best wishes to everyone!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

A Friend in Need is a Friend Indeed

I have had several people ask me if there is anything that I could really use here, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to blog about it. Why not. Can't hurt.

We could use:
- old reading glasses (people can't afford them but need them here - some students can't see the board)
- school backpacks
- ESL workbooks, simple english books
- small, simple calculators
- dictionaries (portuguese-english, english-portuguese)
- rulers (kids here, if they have them, don't leave home without them because goodness knows what will happen if you actually freehand something)
- construction paper or colorful paper (hard to come by here)
- watercolor sets
- sewing and embroidery materials (hoops, thread, sequins, beads, ribbon, buttons - you name it, my REDES group will use it)
- learn to draw or watercolor books for Nia's art group
- patterns for basic clothing for young adults
- baseball hats (it's a hot hot sun out there)
- scissors (quality hard to come by, for the REDES group)
- thick crayola markers (good for visual aids for classroom materials and for group projects - the kids love it)
- colorful yarn
- jigsaw puzzles
- stamps and ink pads (saves on the use of stickers and a good way of marking if people did their homework or not)
- index cards

Now that school supply season is quickly approaching in the US, many of these supplies are much cheaper than usual. A lot of this stuff is hard to come by and when you do find it, it is poor quality.

My address is:

Erin Lynum, PCV
Corpo da Paz
Rua dos Continuadores No. 24-A
Caixa Postal 526
Cidade de Nampula, Nampula

If you do send anything, you can disguise it from people who like to steal packages by putting 'Jesus saves!' or some religious stickers on it. People don't usually mess with religious things.

Any supplies would be appreciated! So if you are stopping by garage sales this summer, keep an eye out for me! Thank you so much!