Thursday, April 23, 2009

Exit Meeting in Mbatwe

Today, Joao Bueno (the crazy Brazilian genius behind FPP) conducted a meeting with the community leaders in Mbatwe. It was full of tough questions, inspiring answers, and great hope. These good leaders have embraced their role in the community, and are looking forward to maintaining their gains in the future. One after another they communicated their long-term commitment to what they learned. One good man explained how he knows his children will never suffer the same conditions he has, because he will share his knowledge with them. Generational change is what we are after. We have great hopes for them.

I do feel a little parental though. Like any father, you send your kids out in the world hoping that they know what they need to know, and praying they will make good decisions. We feel that way about our friends in Mbatwe. Luckily, we will keep in touch, and every six months follow-up with an assessment to see how they are holding up. We wish them well.

Also: I think my daughter Emily helped build the meeting place (machessa) where we held this meeting. It was still well maintained and in great shape.

Celebration Day - More Detail

As I mentioned, I wanted to give more info about the celebration day. The community of Mbatwe is located near the airport in Beira (it is really odd to be in such a primitive area and see jets landing and taking off) There are about 250 families, 1800 people. Their conditions were deplorable - no clean water, no electricity, terrible housing, cholera, malaria, TB, and about 20% of their children died before they reached age 5.

The whole program lasted a bit over 3 years. In that time they learned how to take care of themselves in the areas of nutrition, sanitation, gardening, housing improvement, AIDS prevention, literacy and more. CFL Field Officers and local leaders visited the families every two weeks and taught them skills, motivated them, and set goals for improvement, but it was up to the people to do it for themselves.

The results have been remarkable. There are no cases of cholera, malaria has been greatly reduced, and the death rate of kids under 5 has dropped form 20% to 6.3%. Also, since the program began, not one woman has died in childbirth. Miraculous.

The pictures below consist of several groups performing at the celebration. The groups include the "Children's Club" the kids participating in Stay Alive (the AIDS prevention program) and the people who passed the literacy courses. One of my favorite parts was shaking the hands and congratulating the people who learned how to read - most of them older people who thought they would never have the chance.

There are also pics of CFL employees doing a skit about using the bicycle ambulance to take someone to the hospital, a skit about health, and a skit about family gardens.
And of course there were speeches. The community leaders, government officials, and I all had a chance to congratulate the people on a job well done.

After the speeches, the families who achieved a certain percentage of their goals received awards that included chairs, bags of cement, sheet metal for their roofs, etc.

Finally, to finish the evening, a giant sheet was draped between two trees, and a computer and projector were hooked up to a generator, and everyone watched a slideshow of the past three years. It was touching to see how far they have come, and bittersweet as well. Mbatwe was our first community - a sort of prototype for the program that is now in full swing with 11,ooo people. We will miss them, but have great faith that they will succeed long-term.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Celebration Day in Mbatwe

Toady was a significant day for the people who live in the community of Mbatwe, and for Care For Life. Mbatwe was the very first community that entered into the Family Preservation Program. Today was their closing celebration. Care For lIfe has been with them for over three years, and we are now leaving and moving to another community that needs our help more. Today was the day with speeches, dancing, awards for the families, literacy certificates, and a host of other good things.

We were nervous that it wasn't going to happen because it had been raining all night and all morning. We feel very blessed that we were able to carry on. Since it is midnite, and I am exhausted, I feel it best to wait until I can describe the day with some energy and do it justice.It was a great day!

Attached is a photo that I liked, and a video of a couple of older citizens boogying.

Clebrating in Mbatwe

Kickin' it REALLY OLD School in Moz

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

FPP Begins in Nhamatanda

Today marked the first meeting for the village of Nhamatanda. It is a very poor area, located up the road from Beira - above is a photo of a traditional house in that area. This community makes up communities #9 & #10 participating in our Family Preservation Program (FPP). With these new additions, we now have over 11,000 people in the program.

One thing that is especially meaningful for us is that this is the first time we have used the FPP CORE program. Instead of being run by our regular troop of 20+ people, these communities are being managed by two. They are excellent young men, and are off to a good start. The reason for this meeting was for the community to understand what we are about, to understand that we will only be there for two years, and that we aren't there to give them food, or clothing, or jobs. We offer training on how to have a healthier, more self-reliant life. That concept is quite a shock to many of them, who expected us to show up with truckloads of stuff. We have seen that approach and know that it feels good in the short-run, but leaves the recipients idle and waiting for the next truck.

Enough preaching - here are some pics:

In no particular order:

The Field Officers in this community are Cremildo and Adilson. Both are really energetic and thrilled to take on this new project.

When we arrived, there was already a party goin' on. People gathered in circles and were dancing and playing the drums and wooden blocks.

Some kids soaking it all in.

I addressed the group for a few minutes. Adilson (standing next to me) was translating my poor Portuguese into a native dialect called Sena. (At least I think he did)

Overall, it was an exciting event. The people are motivated, and we KNOW if the follow the program they will be healthier, happier and able to do something in this life besides survive.