Archive for chokwe

children’s day 01.06

for whoever knows me best knows that i am happiest close to children. there isn’t anything else that makes me happier, nothing else that makes me as fulfilled. i am a devoted babysitter and an aspiring aunt, mommy and best friend to every child alive. specially my friends’ children. so first and foremost i say “HAPPY CHILDREN’S DAY” to Giovanna, Francesca, Giacomo, Edoardo, Fabio, Letizia, Maddalena, Chiara, Madalena, Rosie, Lily, Diogo and Lobito/a who is still yet to arrive.

but today i speak mostly of the children i see here. the ones who gave us, Me, Aldo, Alberto, Rita C e Virgilio, Rita, Hugo, Yentl and Michela the best children’s day weekend.

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we left Maputo as soon as we could and drove forever it seemed, only to stop for the much needed cafeine, and arrived at the Chongoene town limit line only to find Sister Aparecida (brasilian, funny and gigantic!) waiting for us at the side of the road next to a giant truck and a dirt road… leading… to the Community #001 (i didn’t memorize the name).

our very long 2 day weekend was just starting.

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as we arrived the singing started and the spiritual talk also. between speaking of what a day like Children’s Day should mean to the children, mothers, grandmothers (there were no men present) we all sat down around Sister Aparecida and reflected on our own lives and what the future could bring. we laughed by all the jokes Sister made, we admired that community for resisting poverty, for allowing their children to go to school get a better education and become better human beings because they were given the chance to see the world with their minds.

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they all danced for us, prepared us a rather intriging meal, let it be know that i ate a piece of everything… which was definitely a chalenge! and sang for us… until the huge bottle of wine arrived!!! and then it was all about dancing with eachother and laughing their hearts out, even admitting to us “sorry but we’re drunk already!” it was hilarious!!!!! the older they were, the drunker they allowed theirselves to be!

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our stomachs were full, strangely full, that’s what beans and mandioca can do to you!!! and it was time to move to another place, another community and another lunch!

the Community #002 recieved us a bit more simply, in sense that only the children got up and formed a sort of choir position and started singing away. the women were nowhere to be seen and the men, well the men… there were no men, only two older, grandfathers sitting down on a couple of benches staring, and i mean staring at nothing, or us, we couldn’t really tell, and not moving. yes they were alive, just still. the visit to this community went even smothlier, they sang, the women arrived when someone went to let them know that Sister Aparecida was in town with visitors. the children got children’s day presents (the community #001 also!) and sang again, danced a lot, got us involved and then came lunch. again we ate beans and mandioca and wierd green things which i will not describe, but their happiness in serving us was unbelievable, i really felt sorry to refuse half of it, but the beans from the first lunch were still alive inside my stomach… to distract them of feeding us we told them to sit down and eat themselves, because we had to leave anyway… but not before giving them another huge bottle of wine! they were exstatic!!!! if you know the sound of an african tribe, then that’s exactly the noises they made, high pitched voices singing music to the Lord and to Sister Aparecida. it was the funniest thing to see these women get drunk in two minutes (kind of like me) while the men, the two old men… just watched… not moving… sometimes wondering if they were breathing.

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and off we went again, and this time to Sister Aparecida’s  house in Chongoene town. lovely place with a very nice church (if you want to see it, please try to find the post for our first weekend here, we visited her) and she invited us in for……. LUNCH. our third lunch was a portuguese lunch. yes, recognizable and wonderful. but we were soooo full! it’s amazing what four spoons of beans can do to you!!!! but i ate, like i hadn’t just 30mins before. i enjoyed eating things my mouth recognized, not only taste but texture. it was delicous! and the fruit juices? have you really ever had fresh orange juice? or passion fruit? …i don’t believe you, you haven’t until you’ve tasted these ones!!!!

we left Sister Aparecida there and made our way, 3 hour drive almost to Chokwe where we were going to spend the night at Alberto’s house. if we thought that saturday had been a strange full day, let me tell you, sunday was about to change our minds.

before going to sleep (which i so needed, i had spent my day driving and eating!) we had been invited to have… DINNER with three other portuguese who live in Chokwe… everyone ate, i just couldn’t deal with it. it was just too much. it was time for bed…

i’m sure i only slept about 1 hour, but the clock said otherwise. at 6a.m. we were already up and running and i couldn’t believe it. at 7:30a.m. we (me, aldo, alberto, rita c., rita, hugo, yentl and michela) were already standing in front of the orphanage building we love, all sleepy, all tired, full from the day before, with our eyes wanting to close and with 60 children laughing and hugging and playing with us while we were slowly waking up. but like always when i’m with them, it takes about five minutes to get with them on their games, there is no way you can just stand there. while they  had their  breakfast we ran to Bilene beach in time for our own breakfast and wait for the children to arrive. that’s right! we were going with 60 children to the beach!!!!!!

what posessed us to want to do this we still don’t know, if we enjoyed it? yes. it was the best sunday i have ever had in a very long time.

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there are literally no words to describe the emotion, the wonderfulness and the happiness we all felt to have had that idea, to have driven all the way there and made so many children happy and so many children see the ocean for the first time. ok, so Bilene is a lagoon mostly but to them it was the world’s biggest ocean ever imagined. we were a part of it. we made them have so much fun.

i always say that i love these children because of how happy they are (if all children in portugal could be this happy!), but that sunday they were over the moon, or the ocean!!! they jumped, ran, yelled, played, digged holes in the sand, sang, danced in the water, got wet, got full of sand, buried themselves in the sand, they ate lots of sand, they posed for our infinite pictures, they taught us changane, we taught them tricks, they ate like horses, they savoured the candy rita c. offered, they drank coke and fanta and sprite, they laughed, cried even… but the most amazed were us. we couldn’t believe it. there were really 60 children there, all enjoyed what seemed to be the best day of their lives.

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aldo and i actually thought seriously and simply comunicated between ourselves about which ones we wanted to take home with us. aldo even had a fan, Darci, she is albinian (?) and the funniest, smiliest and funkiest girl in there! he had a hard time leaving her. i’m more for the boys, and all of them spent a lot of time with me. but mostly me with them.

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unfortunately we all had to leave. us to Maputo, them to Chokwe, and the children back to the orphanage. if it had been a saturday we would’ve all have slept at the beach playing until the next day. but there was no chance of it happening. but we made a decision, get them real swimsuits in september when the warm weather comes back and go with them again more often. i’ll be there.

will you?

chokwe #005

it has become by now tradition almost in our weekends outside of Maputo, things happen! if we stay here in the city sometimes we have very boring moments but it has definitely been the opposite when we leave town.

this time it was in the Orphanage in Chokwe and in Bilene, can’t decide exactly where things started going wrong.

we dove to the Orphanage only to find out that Sister Isaura was in Maputo, because it was too late to go back and pick her up to give her a lift we decided to go anyway, meet the new voluntary worker sent by the IPAD and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to work with the umpequenogesto.org with the children at the Chaquelane Orphanage. our plan was to meet him, have lunch with him in Chokwe and then leave for Bilene Beach where the warm sand was waiting for our already too european skins, spend the night at a friend’s house, enjoy his pool a bit by night and then the next morning enjoy the beach again, have lunch and before leaving for Maputo driving to the orphanage to say hello to Sister Isaura. well… making plans is always a bit tricky around here, so we noticed.

we arrived at the orphanage to find the children happy to seee and listening to loud music dancing their little bodies away. we met Alberto from Portugal, the voluntary, and hit it off straight away, very nice and talkative and really interested in the new orphanage project. we decided to have lunch in the nearest town which is Chokwe, to let us get to know eachother a bit more and without the african rap in the background. everythng went smothly, Alberto seemed perfect for the job, he had the nice attitude, really excited but worried, like me, about all the strange little creatures this country has… while we were coming back to the orphange we saw a creature that was not so small!!! and NO… i didn’t kill it!

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because staying the whole day at the orphanage on a saturday might be a bit too much, we invited Alberto to join us in Bilene for dinner and still catch a few sun rays, seeing that he had only seen Chokwe on his 4 days in Mozambique, he of course excepted it but still had to go get clothes, swim stuff, etc… so because aldo and i really really wanted to jump in the water we decided to go to Bilene by ourselves and wait for Alberto there. again… plans are stupid!

after 30minutes of waiting for Alberto in Bilene after calculating more or less when he’s arrive i started wondering… and two seconds later i get a phone call: “miss portugal, one of my tires just exploded… i’m about 5kms away from you guys!”… i can’t seem to translate the panic in his voice… but it was there. as i drove back i imagined what a traumatic experience it must be for him, in pitch black by now, not knwoing where he was and waiting for us for so long becasue he was actually 10kms away… we arrived and found him white as paint, not because he came from europe but because had we taken one minute longer, he’d have run away! aldo started helping him change the wheel, they discovered the spare wheel had exploded long ago, one guy appeared and tried to help, a second guy appeared to help the first guy, i stayed inside the car, the third guy appeared to help the second guy who was doing nothing, i locked my doors, 19:00, a fourth and fifth and sixth guy arrived to just look, a seventh guy talked somewhere in the dark, five children appeared at my window making me scream, 20:00, alberto was panicking, aldo was relaxing, an eighth guy arrived drunk as a… drunkman!, i layed down in the car and saw an amazing sky above all of us, the wheel didn’t come off to be changed, 21:00, i called my father’s friend who was lending us the house to ask what we should do, he said “get out of there!”, i yelled at alberto and aldo to get our butts moving, all the eight guys and five children asked alberto and aldo for money, i kept my doors locked, i killed a small butterfly inside my car, aldo got in the car with alberto, both cars drove 10kms for 2km/h until Bilene town and parked the disabled car. we had dinner, laughed about it. aldo and i collapsed on the bed not having seen the beach that day. Alberto didn’t sleep.

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the next morning, we gave the car to a mechanic and the three of us spent two amazing, peaceful and tanning hours on the beach. aaahhhh and it felt so good. the weather was perfect and i needed that colouring.

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to make sure Alberto was feeling better aldo drove back to the orphanage with him and i drove by myself again behind them hoping that nothing else would go wrong. it didn’t. we arrived and to our great joy the children were having a Sunday Dancing Party and we joined in, danced, drank and laughed with all of them. 

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Alberto was still a bit in shock i’m sure and he really wanted to fly back home and i respect his feelings, but i’m sure all those smiles reassured him that this will be a great year and we are ready to help whenever he needs us. welcome to mozambique!

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chokwe #004

it has been such a long time since we saw those beautiful children.

last time we visited Sister Isaura’s orphanage was 3 days before chritsmas where we tried to show and bring with us what chritsmas was to us. we delivered not only new clothes, but our whole hearts. it was a day of joy, of so much hapiness and so many rewards. one could get used to this… the children… and mostly us.

some people call it charity, others personal selfishness, others simply say it’s a gift, or kindness, or self aknowledgment or just love. i personally think it’s all of these feelings. no one gets envolved in something like this without aknowledging  that there is some sort of great feeling it brings to your own self.

this weekend we went to the orphanage first because it had been so long, we missed that place so much, and secondly because we had taken on the task of getting new baby cribs to the orphanage. there are new babies coming and “old” babies still needed individual beds. we ordered 6 and 6 were delivered saturday morning to the orphanage. believe me when i say this, they were so happy. or course we arrived a bit before their lunch time so they didn’t sing as much as last time, i guess they were hungry but we loved the usual welcome and the gorgeous goodbye.

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Sister Isaura couldn’t have been happier. she was delighted that the “baby room” is now complete with these new 6 white cribs.

This is manly why we have decided to be a part of this project, to be a part of their lives, because first and foremost this is what it’s all about… giving… helping…making them know that we’re here. understanding what are their basic needs and develop them into something that can done ASAP. maybe if we’d make a list we’d come up with so many other things we could do, but beore we get lost in our own ideas of european orphanages, and the needs of european children adapted into this environment all it takes is to look around and understand and give it enough attention to see the little details that could turn their lives around.

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and here is where i can honestly say it is very easy to forget and not see the thin line between helping others and helping you feeling better about yourself. but to me, there is nothing wrong with it. because when those beautiful faces with eyes so open they swallow you in, whisper “thank you” in their shy voices or sing out loud “obrigado” there is such an amazing feeling in your heart, because you know it started with just a wish, it started with you saying you just want to help an it becomes so much more. the more you see the effect it has on these tiny lives it makes it so much better and so much more worth it.

there is nothing i like more tan hto know that what we can do to help will really change their lives. and all it takes is a few hours with them under the hot hot sun singing a few songs, or giving them each a tshirt, or asking Zezito where his front tooth is, or proudly staring at Gina and admiring such hope in such a small child. this all makes us better people. and if it takes seeing them grow to make myself feel better then i don’t really care if it’s selfish, it’s a beautiful feeling. we all become better people with it.

07.03.2009

miss belgium,

i left antwerp 6 months ago.

maybe that’s why i sang happy birthday to you a day earlier… my instinct told me that if i just sang it earlier i wouldn’t have to realize it’s been 6 months already. so there was actually an excuse. it’s still a bit strange to think it’s been so long, maybe because we “talk” everyday on facebook, or because i call you so often still or because you read my blog or because i miss rosie and can’t wait for her “one minute” movies, which by the way have been lacking lately.

it’s not the first time i write you a letter, note or blog post, and it’s true when they say it gets easier with time. i have pratically said anything and everything to you. we have been through a lot, mostly you really, ’cause having a baby will always seem so much more then moving to africa! ;) and we’ve had such amazing moments and we are still amazed of how much friends we became in these years. but then again, it’s no surprise. like someone once said to me “andrea, you’re right, Greet is wonderful!”

see, i’ve told the world. it started with dutch lessons and it finishes… pfff this will never be over!  unless you start beating me on every single game facebook has to offer i swear i’ll always be here.

we’ll always have “witzli putzly” and “caffenation”.

thank you for living this with me and for helping me get through and enjoy so much of this life. most importantly remember, i’m the apple crumble lady and there will always be a empty chair waiting for me! no one with three apples gets to substitute me!!! eheheheh

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i made brownie cookies with a thick cream dip for your birthday… i had a number 3 candle but not a number 1, so you’re 3 years old.

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p.s. – i kept trying to get the kids at the orphanage to sing to you but we had a crying crisis after all of these smiles!!

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p.s.s. – like i had said we did go to the beach after the orphanage and just like you imagined probably it was amazing! :) you have rosie i have this!

here, and there soon, miss portugal


chokwe #003

it’s all about giving… to the children

we had decided a long time ago that this being our first christmas away from any of our homes, portugal or italy, we’d give up exchanging gifs between me and aldo and give to the children at the Chokwe orphanage. we couldn’t resist. we visited them 3 days before christmas and gave them what we could, new clothes! since every time we go the orphanage there seem to be even more children since the time before we were a bit short on items, but they still enjoyed our company and we simply adored seeing them. they sang like never before, they danced and they chatted until they dropped, literally of hunger. we were all hungry by lunch time, and we couldn’t say no when Sister Isaura asked us to join them for their special christmas meal. the food was very good, warm and so homemade. it was strange for us to give up all our rules for eating in africa, usually we never eat vegetables outside of private homes, we don’t drink water and certainly we tens to eat things we know where they came from… i think those rules flew out of my mind the minute i sat down at their table. the food was delicious, the water so cool under that sun and the vegetables straight out of the garden. i didn’t care. 

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Chelton, the new kid in town

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Luanda, she’s doing so well. she’s sitting up on her own, when she feels like it! and she has a beautiful smile!

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aldo and andrea dancing

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Zezito, the cutest!

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can’t stop dancing

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they just couldn’t resist 

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everybody loves Chelton

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seeing them on this day meant so much to me. i think to my sister and Ana also so much because we opened our hearts like we never expected. we laughed together, danced together and especially learned so many new things by just spending time there. every time i visit this place i leave a bit of myself. i feel that my hands are tight in so many aspects, we can’t change the way they live, but i feel, selfishly so much better with myself. i feel proud of myself and aldo and whoever wants to learn more about this place because we give our time, we’re not better than them, we just can use our education, economic position, our outside view to help. and help sometime is just as simple as this gathering, lunch together. that’s all it takes. and if in the meantime you can by them new things, or search for prices of things they need, or pick up groceries, or letters or anything, we’ll do it. because it doesn’t take anything to make them smile. 

and the best reward to us is seeing how happy they are. with so much less than us, but with hearts bigger than we’ve ever had.

the saddest day

leandra died.

leandra died before she became 9 months old… she let go of the hands that held her.

i met her one sunday and just couldn’t believe that someone would give up two babies like that, she is a twin, she left behind a sister, luana, stronger, but now alone. i met her and straight away sat next to her, and held her hand… by the end of that visit she was holding my finger so strongly as if not wanting to let me go… i guess she looked weaker than she really was. her eyes had no expression, still as warm weather, but to me they had hope. i looked around us and felt that she had found a home for now, she was within a comunity, with children who sang all day round, and nuns who protected her…

but there is so much they could do. and yes now i blame myself for things i thought i could do, and didn’t, for things i dreamt for her and she won’t live to see them… i had hope for her, i had hope that one day she’d be mine… and still i left her there. and there is so much they could do…

she’s gone. she was tiny and weak but so missed.

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chokwe #001

this is a story of an orphanage. this is a story of survival. a story of one person, sister isaura and a story of an ONG who looked onto these children and decided to lend a hand. a story of children with no families, with children with almost no food, with no new clothes, with no new toys.

this is a story of the children with the biggest smile. Rosinha and João invited us to join them on one of their last visits to the orphanage before they leave definitely to Portugal to get married and get a job. we join them with a few expectations, a few fears but mostly an open heart.

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they sang when we arrived, they sang when we presented ourselves, they sang when we smiled and when we left. i can’t imagine what it was like for Rosinha and João as they knew it’s be one of the last times they’d see these beautiful smiles, but i hope they could see in the children’s eyes how much they loved them. they are forever grateful to them and for us that was so visible!

Aldo and i have offered our help in whatever way we can and they see fit. “UM PEQUENO GESTO” the ONG who is behind this project has open up their arms to our help. our help will come in a shape of a new building for the orphanage, seeing that they need more space and more infrastructure, because the number of children that sister isaura is “collecting” is growing everyday… sadly.

we will do our best, and you’ll follow this new meaning to our lives with me.

(this post was meant to be written 2 weeks ago… but better late than ever!)