Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Motorcycle Inquiries

This week I spent a whole day in the field with the fine folks from MALE YERU. This was going to be my first experience interviewing clients without Narciso or Henriquita translating for me so I was quite nervous. I had spent a great deal of time translating my questions and practicing the pronunciation, all in an effort to come across as calm, cool and collected in the eyes of the clients. It didn’t really work though as I bumbled through my feeble Portuguese and nodded absently as the clients unleashed torrents of rapid responses. Luckily I had Rungo by my side to save the day. Rungo is a credit officer with MALE YERU and speaks English well enough to step in and help with the translation. He would be about my age and has the job of monitoring and evaluating his long list of clients. Credit officers work extremely hard and need to have exceptional people skills, especially when dealing with clients who fall behind in their loan payments. They also act as counsellors, helping their clients make smart lifestyle and business decisions.


So Rungo and I set out on his dirk bike for the day, bouncing along the dusty roads of the city of Catembe. Catembe is situated across the bay from Maputo but couldn’t be further from the capital city in terms of income, facilities and pace of life. The town has a real mix of old Portuguese colonial villas and rural Mozambican homesteads. The beach is quite impressive and the view of Maputo from the other side of the Bay is spectacular. It actually looks like a thriving coastal city one might find in Europe or North America…too bad it couldn’t maintain that sparkling splendor once you get off the ferry on the other side!!


We met a bunch of fantastic clients that day who all seemed to be making very good use out of their loans from MALE YERU. Many had used the loans to build or repair their houses, build new fishing boats or nets, expand their stores, construct chicken coups or start up new businesses such as bakeries or courier services. Since this was my first day working with Rungo, I couldn’t help but get the feeling the he was showing off his best clients to me. One of the clients we visited was Judige Solude. Judige began fishing around Catembe back in 1964 but fell into some hard times around 1999-2000 when much of his equipment was destroyed by a tropical storm. MALE YERU was able to provide the capital for him to build two new boats and hire up to 8 employees. Now he has plans to use future loans from MALE YERU to start a transport service from Maputo to Inhaca Island about 200 km off the coast. This is breathtaking view from his simple home overlooking the Maputo Bay.


I also thought I’d throw in this shot I took from the ferry heading over to Catembe. The boat on the right is called a dhow and it’s a model of sailboat that has been used along the coast of Africa for over 500 years. I love the simplicity of the dhow contrasted against the big powerful ocean liner. It’s that struggle between tradition and modernity that really encapsulates Africa.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Neville said...

hey man, sounds like you're doing some rad stuff. I don't read the blog much, but when I do, I'm always interested in the news. Give me an e.mail sometime. poorchoice1@hotmail.com

7:08 p.m.  
Blogger Doug Rhoads said...

Hey Jared,

It's good to hear about the stuff your doing. I just got back to America last week. I was sooo busy in South Africa this past month that I really had no free time. I would have liked to have seen you. But GOOD news, I'm moving back to South Africa to join the staff there. I hope to be back there by February. So if your still in Maputo, maybe we can connect then.

Doug

7:54 p.m.  
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