My wife was up and going at 05:40 am! It’s a habit more than anything else. I got married and on the first morning my wife, Alta brought me tea in bed at 05:00 am. I though: “What a good wife …. she will get over it!” After nearly 15 years it is still the same procedure ….. so I have given up on sleeping late.
We woke up on day 2 in Mutarara. A quick breakfast – bread and coffee is what was available. Someone ran over to where we were sleeping with a message that the river flooded its banks again and we will not be able to visit a very remote women school on the Zambezi river – Inhangoma. The ladies (who never had a visit from anyone) were devastated. Alta and Eunice decided that if it wasn’t possible they will cross the river by boat and at least meet some of the leaders on the other side of the river. I told them cautiously that there is no official boat. “It will only be a dugout tree – and crocodiles were very much hungry at this time!” (I actually knew it was breeding time – but I had to try and keep the ladies sane.) The didn’t listen (it’s the whole Mars and Venus thing all over again I thought silently). “We have to encourage the people and tell them to continue studying.”
A motorbike with a pastor was sent back across the river by dugout tree canoe to carry a lady teacher more than 35 km (in Mozambican terms – about 2 hours) away. The ladies buried their dignity – climbed in their river transport and set off across the river. The pastor arrived a few hours later – on the 125cc Chinese special we had the pastor, the women leaders with a baby smiling widely as they arrived breathless. Smelling the Chinese motorbike (General – “made in a hurry, keep in a cool place”) left no doubt in my mind that they were bundu bashing at 100 km/h. But they arrived in one piece ………. “nothing to do”!
After greeting, dancing and praying – action plans and solutions to many problems were discussed. New lady schools were opening everywhere as women now has the opportunity to study and be counted ….. even in the bush ….. even in their strict African culture.
After crossing the river and making it back safely we were ready to tackle yet another lady school – who has waited more than 3 years for a visit. The joy …. again was contagious. I could smell chicken and rice in the background as some ladies were preparing a feast. Gifts were carried by many ladies to show their appreciation (a common sight in the poor communities in Mozambique).
Alta and Eunice continually emphasized that they are just serving the women of Mozambique and that the real heroes were the ladies in front of them. The role of women, education and the literacy of women were discussed with action plans for the next 5 years. Women stood up on after another testifying how the literacy program helped them. Grandmothers came forward with tears in their eyes how they for the first time could help their grandchildren to read and write.
Women that could never read and write got up one after another to show off their newly learnt skills. They read verse after verse in Chewa (the local dialect). “Now we have to learn how to do mathematics”, they cried out.
The day ended with a great meal with the local women of Baue. We were received graciously and new God was doing something wonderful.
Photo below: Past. Toca and his wife were both illiterate. Past. Toca joined our Leadership Training program more than 6 years ago and could not read or write. Through hard word and a great miracle in his life he now can read and write. His wife also learned these skills.
Meanwhile ….. back at our sleeping quarters Jorge the local waiter cooked our water for our evening bath. Luckily we did not bath outside due to 100 or so kids following these strange Mazungus to see if we bath in the same way. Toilets are a total luxury in the bush
Improvisation is crucial and find creative ways ………. well …… is very important if you want to stay healthy. The toilets we did find in our sleeping quarters was interesting. You had to take a huge bucket and wash away the debris with enough power otherwise you had to go outside ….. get more water ….. and “wishy-washy” again. (Although I do not want to offend anyone with the details …… I need to make our readers understand exactly what bush life is all about!!) Oh …. I so hope the queen can make it to see women finding back their self worthiness. God save the Queen!
After eating yet another burnt offering in the form of a chicken ….. we saw the last light going down on the Donna Ana bridge in Mutarara crossing the mighty Zambezi.
The Dona Ana Bridge spans the lower Zambezi River between the towns of Vila de Sena and Mutarara in Mozambique, effectively linking the two halves of the country. Built by the Portuguese in 1934 during the Portuguese rule of Mozambique, and blown up by RENAMO soldiers during the Mozambican Civil War (1977-1992), after independence from Portugal in 1975, it was originally constructed as a railway bridge to link Malawi and the Moatize coal fields to the port of Beira.
Ooops …. and yes this long bridge was built by Edgar Cordosa from Portugal – and I think he named it after his wife – Donna Ana. It was thus fitting to get the Simukai ladies to pose on the bridge before we called it a day.