Saturday 6 October 2007

 

An early morning start, five hours of driving on a variety of dusty and corrugated, dusty and bumpy and dusty and downright difficult roads to a huge lunch of rice, sauce, and chicken, courtesy of Dumi, at our mainland camp, and then a leisurely lancha ride across the Rio Larde to the edges of the Larde Village itself, where are greeted by grinning boys and Chefe de Poste of Larde. “Welcome to our village, we have everything ready for our meeting, it is this way…”

 

A lot of planning went into this meeting. First, we had to invite local government officials, then we had to arrange how to get them to Larde, which is 250km’s from Nampula. We also had to place notices in all the relevant local areas so anyone wishing to attend the meeting could make the necessary plans. The notices went up in Moma and Larde and surrounding villages. The government officials attending were the 3 reps from Micoa, the District Secretary of Moma and the Head of Education in Moma. We also had the Head of Apemo, the Moma Fishing Association come along in support.

 

Larde Village itself is a small but neat place in the middle of nowhere, with a main street lined with neat single storey government buildings and a middle island decorated with some frondy green plants. This is in contrast to the settlement of dust on the skins of the children surrounding us. While the Chefe de Poste greets us and we wait for the meeting area to be arranged I spot our Fresh Limitada guys coming down the road in their new blue overalls and bright new white T-shirts. It’s such a moment of pride and they stride along, spread out, looking like an advert for a super team.

 

As we walk down to the meeting place we are met by the head village elder, dressed in his official uniform, which looks remarkably like some kind of military get up. All the village heads wear this uniform, kaki shirt and trousers, with badges on the shirt and likewise in the hats which are either a smart capped hat or a beret depending on status, and, it seems, age.

 

Under a tree where the people of the village gather, there is a table laid with a cloth and some chairs. There is a hurried rearrangement of benches and people being sent for more chairs from some of the nearby houses as it becomes apparent our party is bigger than expected. Finally we can all settle down, but we are told we need to wait, as the Queen is on her way. (This is a surprise to me, not realising that there exists a queen in this village culture) Once our Rainha has arrived, we sit to the tune of Larde locals singing and clapping in opening of what they obviously see as a very important meeting. This is followed by a couple of fist in the air chants which I take to be an expression of the strength and pride of this area, or perhaps it is an alliance to Mozambique the country.

 

All the adults sit in front of us, the women mainly to the left side, the children have gathered themselves in a semi circle behind us, from where they will begin to squirm as the meeting goes on. The Chefe de Poste introduces everyone; the Secretary of Moma does too. Then Hassane takes everyone through the project and finally we are at the question and answer session. This is, as with the previous day, the most interesting part. And it is also the moment that I fully realise the impact our project is going to have on these people, this community. They ask some very interesting questions such as “what will the social impact be?, why don’t we employ more women?, can everyone join the English lessons, what do they get from all of this?”

Mostly they all show enthusiasm and excitement about what we are doing, they want this to happen, they are excited about the opportunities it creates, but they still need to know that they will be the main beneficiaries of a project such as this.

 

Once Jack speaks and thanks the people of the area for everything, there is lots of cheering and again singing and clapping, fists in the air and shaking of hands. We leave the meeting spot as the children line up waiting for the most exciting part of the days events, the free cooldrinks and biscuits about to be handed out.

 

We leave the Chefe de Poste at the river’s edge and meander slowly toward our mainland camp. Everyone is in a good mood, the meeting has gone well, our spirits are high. And the whole journey back to Nampula, all 5 hours of it, all I can think of is how we are going to get all our community projects started, I want to do them all now! The enthusiasm of all the people have made me see the reality of what we can achieve, and reawakens an excitement in me that I can only belief. 

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