Friday, December 02, 2005

The Motorcycle Inquiries: Part II

This past week I spent a couple of days back in Catembe with the good folks from Male Yeru. Rungo and I once again spent the days zipping around town on his trusty dirt bike, visiting clients and talking them about their businesses and their thoughts on HIV/AIDS. I also finally got a chance to sit down with Rungo and Aron, the other Male Yeru credit officer in Catembe, and pick their brains about the issue of HIV/AIDS and microfinance. They both expressed how difficult it was for them to discuss the disease openly with their clients. They also admitted that they felt that their institution was not doing nearly enough to monitor and counter the impacts of HIV/AIDS on their client base.

When we went out into the field I was overwhelmed by my encounters with HIV/AIDS in this community. Nearly every client we talked to over those two days shared at least one story about how HIV/AIDS was directly affecting their family or the lives of their close friends. We visited one lady named Marta Ngemina, who has been a successful client of Male Yeru since 2001. She operates a fishing business with two boats, supplying fresh fish to the many vendors lining the streets of Catembe. At her peak season, she is able to employ up to ten local boys to help her with the work load.

Despite her success, life has not been an easy climb for Marta. Her husband left her for another woman a few years back, leaving her to take care of her five children, and elderly parents, off of her income from the sea. Now she is also taking care of three orphans left to her by her cousin who died of AIDS last year. She suspects that Antonio, the cute little guy with the red and white shirt in the middle of the picture, is also infected as his health has deteriorated over the last six months. She has yet to go get him tested because there is no clinic nearby in Catembe. The extra mouths to feed, plus the declining returns from fishing, are placing Marta in an increasingly difficult financial situation

We also visited a woman named Josephina Shiloule who had built up a business with Male Yeru loans selling chickens and charcoal out of her homestead. She has one child but no husband and also takes care of her sick sister and niece. As her sister entered the room we were introduced to a walking skeleton, a poor woman whose body had been consumed by AIDS and was now barely living out her final months. Her arms and legs were no wider than two inches across and her eyes were sunken and helpless. Rungo and I were at a loss for words as Josephina continued to explain how she had been forced to sell off all of her chickens to help pay for her sister’s medications, hospital visitations and school fees for her daughter. She then took us outside where she posed for this picture in her now empty chicken coop. She earns a meager income from her charcoal sales and has fallen three months behind on her loan payments with Male Yeru. Rungo is gracious but is struggling to find a proper solution to this problem.

After we had finished making our rounds I bid farewell to my friends Rungo and Aron in Catembe. I had an incredible time with them observing their daily work, discussing future plans for HIV/AIDS and encountering the fascinating and emotional lives of their clients. On the way back to the ferry port on the last day I was also able to catch up on some note transcribing on the back of Aron’s dirt bike. For all of you MEDA interns out there, this is my entry so far for the intern photo contest. I’d love to see what you guys have come up with!!


Anonymous Patrick said...

They don't let you drive the motocyles.

Also glad you are doing something you want

10:58 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jared!
Since your Blog “address” was noted in church I have been following your adventure in Mozambique. Amazing! I give you credit for venturing out to spend some extended time in Africa. Thanks for letting us know what’s happening in your life. I have enjoyed reading your extensive notes about your work-related activities, your social interactions with people in a very different culture and your philosophical reflections. Your blog helps us back home to begin to see that there could be quiet some adjusting needed. I guess you might say that your informative page allows me to do some armchair adventuring.
Please don’t despair over what you’re not accomplishing. Continue to do your work and know that God can use people who are willing to do their seemingly small part in serving other people.
Jake Peters

9:00 p.m.  
Anonymous Tyler said...

Hey there Jared. Just to let you know, your foosball table is happy in its new, albeit temporary, home.

Thank you Mrs Penner for your patience, it has been a busy time as of late.

Hope you're doing well Jared.

Keep it real,


10:18 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i jared how are you ??it's me ana from portugal so what are you thinking of mozambique??your site is amuzing and fantastic!the photos are pretty cool send me a mail bekause i lost your e-mail i 'm university in Coimbra and next year i'm going to united states bye***

10:48 a.m.  
Anonymous Mom said...

Helmet????? Where's the Helmet???

7:37 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really like your race cars related blog site. I have a race cars related web site at race cars. If you're into race cars. You will want to check it out.

5:18 a.m.  

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