Thursday, February 16, 2006

Girl Power!



Well the time out in the field was certainly an incredible experience for Cremildo and I. We were able to pack a lot of work into our five days in Nampula before we parted ways and I took off for some holiday time on the coast. I’ve decided that the best way to share with you all what we saw and did would be for me to split up the trip into three sections: our time in Nampula with Caixa das Mulheres, our time “in the bush” with Ophavela and finally my awesome three days on the Ilha de Mozambique.

We began our adventure at the Maputo International Airport where Cremildo bravely boarded a plane for the first time in his life and we both stared out the window like little kids as the beaches and palm trees shrank beneath our eyes. Landing in Nampula, we were greeted at the airport by a five woman welcoming committee, dressed in their flamboyant finest and whisked off in the back of a pick up truck to our hotel. These women were from Caixa das Mulheres de Nampula (CMN), an association that offers savings and small enterprise loans exclusively to female members. These women are given the opportunity to gather in small groups to learn about healthy lifestyles, money management and basic business development skills. The central objective of CMN is woman's empowerment through microfinance, allowing these women to take greater control over their economic lives.

While their hearts are in the right place, and their staff and clients are both optimistic and energetic, the institution suffers from a lack of direction and low operational capacity. Both Cremildo and I were disappointed to discover that no progress had been made on their HIV/AIDS action plan since the workshop we held last September. The few pamphlets that were strewn about the front office were the meager leftovers from what the participants took back from Maputo. They had not made any effort to make their own contacts with HIV/AIDS service providers or further design any policy or product refinements. There is clearly a lot of work that still needs to be done.

That being said, Caixa das Mulheres did have some very interesting clients that we were able to meet over the two days with them. One success story I should share is of Malika Sawcha, a real Mozambican entrepreneur. She is a woman that has been with CMN since 1998 and is currently on her eighth loan cycle worth 25 Million MZM ($1100 CDN). Malika started from scratch back in 1998 and is now running a sewing business with six machines and a small auto parts store, employing altogether five people in the operation. She is planning on using her next loan to open up a baraca next to here shop to serve lunch and cold drinks to all of her customers in the neighbourhood. Despite her success, Malika has not been spared by the impacts of HIV/AIDS. She has already lost one employee to the disease and has taken in her sick cousin whose husband died of AIDS last year.

I’ll leave you with a picture of the stunning Catholic Cathedral in downtown Nampula, the site of Pope John Paul’s visit in 1988 (or Papa Joao Paulo as they say here). I’ll write more about the trip and post more pictures in the next couple of days. Tchau!

4 Comments:

Anonymous Mom said...

How disappointing to see that no progress had been made since the conference last Sept. Are you or any others going to be involved in assisting with direction in this area in the near future?

7:48 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

is it worth it?

10:14 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very interesting reading today about your Northern experience & followup up from your Sept work. Thanks for the picture of the Catholic Church where Pope Paul visited. Keep up the good work!
We all really ejoyed C's Concert
Looking forward to the next blogs
T.A.C.E.

3:11 p.m.  
Blogger jpmozambique said...

of course it is worth it

5:07 a.m.  

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