Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Mural on school corruption

Hello everyone! Not to take up much of your time, but wanted to show you the great work my kids (JOMA community art group of Monapo) did this past week. We painted a mural in the school library about corruption in schools ... enjoy!

Here, we're just getting started. Strike a pose Assane (aka 20 cents)

Work in progress - me and the boys

Finshed product!

The title: "Faca a matematica" meaning "Do the math"

Problem #1: Here is a teacher that drinks before teaching (a sad common reality) ... he's shown as a 2m bottle (the beer here in Moz) in a bata (the jacket teachers wear teaching here)
that plus this scene: A student paying his teacher to get good grades (another sad reality). He's shown as 100 metecais, the money here in Moz. Also, the girl student in the corner saying that the teacher will help her with her grades also-signifying sexual realtions with the teacher(another sad reality)

equals: Mozambique spirling out of control. Students graduate with empty minds, AIDS, no value in education, teachers teaching wrong information, etc...

and here's the second scenario: A student trying to give the teacher money to raise his grades. The teacher is denying the money and telling the student the only way to get good grades is to study

Plus: a good teacher teaching students well

equals: A developed Mozambique that's dominated the HIV/AIDS epidemic, has motivated, smart students with dreams, and free of illness and corruption. The sunny future.

and the amazing artists!

Nelito and Aulate all smiles after all the hard work!
Hope you enjoyed! Love you all and stay posted for the next mural! beijinhos from across the world! -Nia

Monday, March 9, 2009

Well hello! Here I am – starting off the new school year in a few days! During the 3 month intervalo, I was able to get some off the chains traveling in. It all started with my Dad and Jane visiting this great country. We got them right into the culture by showing them how to get water and carry it on your head….

….the bush…

…local wine

….local food and its' preperation…

...Cashew making with some of my students...

…transportation (15 hour 3rd class train in a third world country in 3rd degree burn heat-I’m not convinced those smiles are genuine)

then the next day a 6 hour open back chapa ride in the hot sun after the driver was running from the police…

later that day, we took a private ride to end the day with a smooth ride without any problems – so we ended up broken down with a flat tire in the middle of the bush with 100 village children all around us. Needless to say- we spent the night in a REALLY nice hotel that night.

and got to see some pacaderms and lots of really cool animals…

We finished our trip by hiking Mt. Mulanje (the third highest mountain in Africa). And I only say that because it makes me sound really cool and it sounds more impressive than it actually is. That doesn’t take away from how absolutely beautiful the hike was and how great the trip turned out however.

I’m so glad they made the trip. Jamie, Alex and I had an amazing time with them. Thank you both for coming and seeing how I live my day to day life. I miss you already…really.

So after we got hooked up with new headlamps, pocket knives, smelly old shoes from my Dad, we had a tearful goodbye at the airport – then me and Jamie were off, ready to rage southern Africa with nothing but a tent, some packs, and titanic cards at hand.

In Blantyre, Malawi … first night in the new home

Then, we finally made it back to the ‘bique and started traveling down the beautiful country in all sorts of modes of transportation – like a 17 hour ride in the back of a semi to chimoio…

While there, we saw the sights and somebody got a haircut –
“I want what you have” –James W. Mangan to the pimp barber

Then we made our way across to the shore in Beira, the second largest city in Mozambique. We got to see a movie in a movie theater for the first time in 15 months (Tropical Thunder has a permanent place in our hearts), we also caught a raging hormonal middle school talent show, and the best market food we’ve ever had for the equivalent of $1…

Then we were off to the beach to a place called Savanne … also known as paradise…

Canned beans with a make-shift coconut shell spoon – story of our lives…

middle of nowhere but heaven on earth….

Of course, the transportation back is a little taste of reality (I showed some knee and got a spot upfront)

We finally made it to the capital city Maputo in the southern most province, bused it over to Jo’burg, then spent a rousing 12 hours in the airport awaiting our arrival in Cape Town South Africa

And we made it … and holy culture shock! Cafés, nice roads, clean bathrooms, sitting toilets (with toilet paper), no malaria, cheese, boutiques, fast food, variety, art, cake, ethnic foods, ice cream(!!!!), organization, high speed internet …. this may not sound like much if your in the land of milk and honey – but it brought tears to my eyes.

Cape Town is absolutely amazing, and has so much to do. We hiked Table Mountain

Saw Penguins at Bolder Beach

Visited the Cape of Good Hope

Spent Christmas with some Namibia volunteers we met. A traditional Christmas dinner of fajitas, nachos, and ice cream

Scared before we went cage diving with great white sharks

Disappointed after we drove 2 hours then the captain telling us that the weather was too bad to go out

So we got Margaritas instead (may not sound that interesting - but it was a definte highlight)

Then we were off to Coffee Bay, a beautiful beach community. Turquoise water, green rolling hills and great company made it a great spot to spend New Years.

We got a hike in as well to ‘Hole in the Wall’

Jamie on the beach with some fat cows

We continued up to hlungwe, a game park, where we saw elephants



Then we ended our trip by whitewater rafting in Swaziland. It was great that Jamie assumed that when you’re going down rapids, you let go of the medal paddle. The concussion was well worth the ride though

So after our 2 month back packing excursion, I must admit, I was a little nervous to come back to Mozambique. After experiencing reliable, comfortable transportation, great food, sidewalk cafes, movie theaters, hot showers, sitting toilets, toilet paper, no chance of getting malaria, free of the emergency runs to latrines and all those luxuries; it was hard to face reality that I had to go back to site. And when I did, reality slapped me right across the face. In late January, despite the fact that it is the time of the rains, I had no water and was unable to get any – not to drink, to wash dishes, do laundry, or even take a bucket bath. I will never take water for granted again. Also, during this time of no water, it means no food as well ...‘tempo de fome’ is what they call it (time of hunger). At my market, I could buy baby onions, dried fish, and maybe, if I was lucky, a few little tomatoes teetering on the brink of spoiled. I also broke out in a full body rash, which isn’t uncommon for me here, but definitely added insult to injury. So, I guess you could say I had a little bit of a hard time getting back and getting readjusted - but in the end, it is good to be back, doing what I came here to do.

Since then, school has started. It’s so nice to be back in the classroom again. I really really enjoy teaching here. I was a 9th grade teacher last year, and since I got so attached to my students, I decided to follow them and teach 10th grade. It was the best decision, and I’m so happy to be with them again. Of course, the numbers of students who study decrease as the years go on. About 90 of my students last year are not this year due to failing, inability to pay for matriculation, and most common is the girls becoming pregnant and ending their studies altogether. Tenth grade will be the last year for a lot of my girls. Statistically, they are way past due on starting families.

I’m continuing my art group that I had last year, which is going well. Right now, we’re planning a mural on HIV that will be painted in the new library that will hopefully be built at our school. I'm also working with this group on the national level and helping plan a conference with other PCV's. I’ve also started an English group for my smarter students who are really motivated to learn. They are writing letters right now to students of both my best friend and teacher extraordinairre, Taylor Kanzler, in Hawaii, and also one of my old teachers from middle school, Mr. Moore. They wrote letters about themselves, there day to day lives, troubles and sickness, and their culture. It will be very beneficial for both groups to learn about another culture and everyone, including me, is really really excited about it. The grant that I wrote to reconstruct a sports pavilion in my town unfortunately got rejected. It really bummed me out and kind of took a lot out of me – all that work for nothing. I think I’m going to try to re-do it, and get it done. I really don’t want to leave here with regrets, or feel like I could have done more in my 2 years than I had done. I also don’t want to spread myself too thin either, so we’ll see.

So, I suppose that's all for now. I miss you all dearly and despite my anxiety attacks and nightmares i'm having about the fact that I'll be back in the States by the end of the year, I am excited to see you all. Never worry about me being here. I'm having the time of my life, and appreciate every second - the good, the bad, and the ugly. Take care of yourselves, stay happy and healthy, and shower yourselves with family and friends. You are all always in my heart and I can't thank you enough for your constant support.

beijinhos across the world,