Monday 14th July 2014
After spending nearly a week in Mozambique, I can definitely say without a doubt that this country is a home from home. After planning what we were going to do over these next few weeks on my arrival, we took the weekend off and spent it in Mozambique’s capital, Maputo. Walking around the same areas I did 2 years ago when I volunteered with VSO Youth Volunteering, and seeing the art market with batiques flowing freely in the wind and intricate wooden gifts, I began to realise just how much Mozambique means to me and how I developed personally for the better by spending 3 months volunteering here. It only felt right that this time I visited, I needed to give back to the community, which is where Born Positive comes in.
With the help of our new partner Dumsane, owner of AACOSIDA (an orphanage for 20 children affected by HIV/AIDS), we are continuing to support our existing families who already have orphan children in their care. We are also planning on finding substitute families for AACOSIDA’s children, whether that be finding their aunties, uncles, going through the process of adoption or even finding grandparents if they are capable of taking on the responsibility of looking after a child affected by HIV/AIDS in a country where poverty is prominent everywhere.
Today was a special day. It was my first home visit to none other than Jacinto and Annabella. Jacinto was at the orphanage, Infantario Provincial in Patrice, Xai-Xai where we volunteered back in 2012 with his younger twin brother, Mysterio, who sadly passed away a few months after the programme. Annabella was taken to the orphanage by a distant relative towards the end of the programme, so I had met her briefly. Born Positive has helped to relocate them to a loving home and they both stay with their Aunt Alzira and family, who live in Mahelene, a very rural part of Mozambique. It took us about two and a half hours to drive there on winding roads with multiple potholes that we had to swerve around and we drove over a few railway tracks that were VERY bumpy!
Walking through the African shrubbery towards the creche that Born Positive pays for them to attend to pick them up was exciting, I hadn’t really thought about how I was going to react. As we stepped into the room, maybe 40 children were cosied up together on bamboo mats watching The Lion King in portuguese. I didn’t really have time to take it all in as Jacinto and Annabella spotted volunteers Amy and Leo, who have been conducting regular visits to the family for the last year, and ran for cuddles. I was not sure if Jacinto would recognise me, after all it had been two years since I waved goodbye to him and Mysterio at Infantario. After Jacinto had cuddled Amy and Leo he looked at me and smiled and I was sure he knew I was a familiar face. He reached out his arms to me and I picked him up and he wrapped his legs around my waist and his arms around my neck, giggling away. I couldn’t help but cry out of shock that this baby boy, who was thought to have HIV but has been twice cleared, had recognised me. A simple volunteer who just a few years ago would visit the orphanage and give him and Mysterio cuddles, wheel them around the courtyard in a wheelbarrow which they loved, and give them the love and attention they deserve. Of course Mysterio was in my mind the whole time. It was a bittersweet moment. It pained me not to see Mysterio run up to us smiling and waving, but seeing Jacinto alive and healthy, talking and walking without looking small and weak like he was going to topple over, was a moment that will stay with me forever.
Travelling all that way was exhausting and made me realise how truly exhausting it must have been for my fellow colleagues and volunteers Amy, Leo and Flora to visit Jacinto and Annabella using public transport. Its hard to picture what public transport in Mozambique is like when you haven’t experienced it, but it is not like at home. There is no bus timetable, the chappa (mini bus style public transport) leaves when it is full, and by full I mean every seat is taken and people stand over the seated people, leaving no room for personal space! I cannot thank those who are donating towards our vehicle enough. You only truly appreciate the reasons behind needing it when you see here first hand the difference it has made. We will be able to spend more time with the families we support, assessing their needs and keeping orphan kids in loving local homes – and it’s all thanks to you!