Don’t you just like closing down functions?  No work – just fun and laughter and plenty to eat.  This time of the year many all over the world are getting ready for Christmas.  Snow comes down (or the sun beats down on you if you are in Mozambique), fires are lit (in New York as well as in Mucombeze, Mozambique), music is playing and everywhere parties ring out to announce the closure of yet another year!  Annually it seems people are happy to have survived another year.

We just had the joy (for us … not so much for the kids though) of closing our bush schools for the year.  Exam results were in and our annual function was a hype of contagious activity. Everyone was awaiting their results. 

PHOTO ABOVE:  Parent receiving photos from their kids who are being sponsored by Canada.

PHOTO BELOW:  Teachers receiving their certificates for excellent service in 2010.
The morning started with a quick Mozambican thundershower.  That did not stop the more than 200 kids from the bush to arrive early.  The parents came in drips and drags and I figured out it was maybe because they were not getting the many prizes that was awaiting the kids.

 Some “boring” speeches by teachers, the headmaster, Director of Education and parents were quickly forgotten as kids stared at the “special prize” – a brand new “Flying Pigeon” bicycle – made in China off course.

PHOTO:  Senhor Fernando Hurekure – after 10 years of dedicated service as our Chief Chef in the kitchen he decided, at the tender age of 70, that it was time to retire.

PHOTO:  Fernando received many gifts as a token of our appreciation at the school.  Our mission just finished building him a house for his retirement.

PHOTO:   Our youngest academical achiever, miss Chimboma (grade 1 – best student) receiving her first prize with her mother enjoying the moment!  Tito Mabuleza, our first grade teacher looking very proud.

PHOTO:  Trophy time!  A proud mother comes forward to congratulate her son, Simba Jone on his achievement as best sport student for 2010.

PHOTO BELOW:  Teacher getting ready to read the exam results with big-eyed and staring students!
 Then the MOMENT.  As usual we had our top academical students, our sport champs and athletes and those receiving prizes for their arts and crafts abilities. Names were called out – kids squeezed their way through the crowd to proudly receive their certificates and prizes.  Although some were disappointed not to get to the top 3 in every class we made sure every single one of the 250 students and more than 80 parents took something back to their homes to celebrate.  It was a festive atmosphere and with so many people pitching up we had to move from our classrooms to the outside.

PHOTO:  Nacha Ernesto Abudu recieves her certificate and prize for achieving a third place in the Grade 5 exams.  Our girls did excellent all around.  To us having the girls do well is very important as our school a few years ago had nearly no girls attend due to cultural legacies.  That all changed!

PHOTO:  Our top academical student for 2010 – receiving his “Flying Pigeon” bicycle.

After receiving their long awaited prizes there was a lot to eat and to drink.  Games were played, songs were ringing in the air and the joyous atmosphere was contagious. It felt great to see everyone enjoying themselves.

 A young boy (left in photo) came by, took my hand and said while chewing on two fizzers (long flavoured toffee):  “Hey …. Francisco ….. muinto obrigado e festa!”  (Translated:  Hey, Francois thank you very much for our feast!)  He walked way smiling ….. my hand still sticky from his toffee fingers – and a lump in my throat brought me back to reality.

 It’s going to be a good Christmas – even if we only brought a smile and a toffee.