We’re taking in so much on this tour; it’s hard to put everything we’re seeing down on paper. We’ve ingested tons of info in just two days in Amatongas, and relaying all that info is quite a task.

Our tour continued as we passed the pump where the villagers get their water, which was locked for lunch when we saw it. Br. Chris said the women usually come fill up these containers (which look like old gasoline tanks with the tops cut off) for a small price every day or two. The containers look extremely dirty and unsanitary to be holding water that will be used to cook, clean, drink or even bathe in. We also saw the pump which pumps water to the houses with running water, which I think is just the houses on the Brothers’ residence. Br. Chris said the pump is connected 50 meters below the land and broke just a few weeks ago. They had to pull up all 50 meters of piping to get to the pump to replace it (which wasn’t cheap).

We walked up to another building, which looked old and run down. Br. Chris said when he first got there he couldn’t even see the building through all the weeds, trees and vines. Because of the location, he said they plan on using this abandoned building for a farm type area. When it’s finished, he hopes to have a few areas to hold pigs, another area for goats and sheep and also plans to house a family there and pay them to watch over the animals and basically run the “farm.” While we’re here he’s making repairs on the walls and putting roofs on the building. Back behind the banana plantation there were areas already built that used to house tons of pigs and is still in working condition. Different rooms with doorways and troughs already in place made it hard to sway Br. Chris to abandon the project and use this new find as the animals’ future home. From what we’re hearing, this new building – once in full swing – could be pretty big for the village. It seems to be on the forefront of Br. Chris’ priority list.

After we had pretty much finished walking around the back of the village, we made our way toward the future school/brothers residence. This is another project at the top of the Brothers’ to-do list. Every day there are guys hammering, nailing, drilling and sawing away trying to get this place finished. The project is being run by a middle-aged Portuguese man with a raspy, easily identifiable voice. You can hear him giving orders from across the mission. Along with housing for the Brothers, guests and classrooms, there are bathrooms, a kitchen and maybe most importantly, spots that the Brothers plan on making into a computer/IT lab for the school. Br. Chris told us he has talked to some places in a nearby village called Chimoio (which we adventurously visit tomorrow!) and are in the process of getting quotes and estimates on the cost of buying and installing computers in the new location. Br. Chris said he hopes to have the new residence finished around September (which will be on the third floor of the new building) and the rest is hard to put a time frame on. The second floor also has one of the possible locations for the infirmary HIA will help fund in the near future – one of the projects at the forefront of HIA’s goals. The building still needs a lot of work, but the progress is undeniable and the place is looking great.

The view from the new school building overlooks the current school (and beyond). The Brothers have repainted the current school and said they are also in talks of adding satellite internet to the campus in the near future on top of a bell tower on one of the buildings. We visited each level of the new building and made our war over to the current school via the roof, which connects the two. Mountain ranges paint a gorgeous background to the view of classrooms, fields and basketball court. A flagpole missing its flag sits in the middle of the field with an outline of Mozambique laid out in stones at its base. We sat on the roof for a few minutes soaking in the scenery before heading back down.

We walked past some old outdoor restrooms which Br. Chris said aren’t used very often. The smell alone let us know the sanitation wasn’t the best. Past the old concrete lavatories sat one of the village’s hot spots – the soccer pitch. There are two fields on the grounds, and we visited what Br. Chris told us was the “nice one.” It was an open field of dirt with patches of grassy weeds scattered in a few areas. There were also sprinkles of gravel around the pitch, which made me wonder how these kids play barefoot. With school in session, no games were going on, but Br. Chris said they will play a match or two pretty much every afternoon.

We began walking back up the hill towards the school just as classes were being let out. Our presence gathered a lot of attention and we began shaking hands left and right. We briefly took a glance into some classrooms. We noticed a lot of broken desks and trash scattered around. Br. Chris said there have been some major problems in the school in past semesters. Kids would skip classes, never wear their uniform, not study and pay teachers for better grades. He also said teachers would miss school weeks at a time and sometimes charge kids to take exams because they couldn’t afford to make copies of the test. The Brothers said they’re slowly starting to make some changes this semester and have cut down on some of these problems. They don’t officially have responsibility of the school until next school year (January 2012) but they are already beginning to implement some small fixtures.

We walked through to the carpentry shop and got a quick tour there as well. Most of the furniture in the residence and the school was made here and right now they’re in the process of finishing new dressers for the boys’ residence at the school. We also passed a few different pieces of machinery that Br. Chris said they were in the process of getting to work – a tractor, two cars, a bus and a huge saw for cutting wood. We went across the street and saw the local markets, selling your usual items.

Down the road was the Amatongas hospital. One male nurse runs the tiny hospital and said they get visits from a doctor about once a month. We set up a meeting with the nurse on Wednesday and are looking to get a more in-depth picture of the health issues in Amatongas and the kind of help/supplies he has on hand. When we arrived the hospital was closed, but we saw rooms for a pharmacy and a few other small rooms, possibly exam rooms. All the rooms were locked, but we’re hoping Wednesday we can get a peek inside to see the cleanliness and size of each room.

We capped our tour off by visiting a primary school in the back of Amatongas, where we walked in on some traditional Mozambique dance/music sessions. We took some quality videos of young boys and girls doing these dances. We were immediately welcomed in to get a better view of the party. Simple, yet enthusiastic steps from the children kept our attention for a while. On our way back towards the Brothers’ residence, Michael had a sweet tooth craving and stopped and grabbed a stick of sugar cane for about 5 Meticai (the equivalent of roughly 15 cents) - fresh, juicy and sweet.

Our long day ended with a meal with the borders at the school. A heap of rice topped with a small helping of chicken filled us up. We visited with the borders for a few hours before and after dinner with the help of some of the Brothers translation. Even when a Brother wasn’t around, it’s amazing how much you can communicate with someone who doesn’t speak two words of your language. Hand motions, body language and facial expressions can go a long way. After taking tons of pictures with the kids, we headed off to our guesthouse to call it a night. Two days down, and still so much to see! We’re headed to the nearby town of Chimoio tomorrow to pick up a few things from the market. We ended up doing a lot more than just casual shopping … Check back tomorrow to hear about what is easily our craziest day in Mozambique so far!


 


Comments

David Planche
06/20/2011 10:59pm

Great hearing from you guys! Love living this vicariously as you walk this adventure at the Mission.

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