Ideation with Ali Musa Mbiki

So we have arrived to the end of our first official InAGlobe expedition. As we headed to Pemba airport with our favourite taxi driver, Abou, we could not help experiencing a fruit salad of emotions. The trip has taken us half way across the globe, into a country none of us had ever been to, following a drive, a motif to build something that creates a new tool for development and innovation for developing countries. As well as giving education in Europe a new dimension. We have learnt countless things, ranging from small cultural cues to critical thinking during hypercritical (and constructive) interrogations. We have learnt that a partner’s scepticism is just a piece of advice to further define something we were not accounting for. We broke many cultural prejudices, we built a bridge across two cultures in our mind that had been kept apart throughout our lives. We have learnt the satisfaction of hard work, the satisfaction behind exhaustion, the kind caused by the nomadic nature of our work. We committed our minds to being sponges to this incredibly diverse country, of which we have only seen a small portion. There are several things to address in this post, not all as emotional as the previous paragraph, but all valuable for the InAGlobe cause.


Firstly, what is our next step? Jaime and Alberto have made their way back to Spain, where they will begin applying for funding, revising the project plan (based on the Mozambican experience) structuring the platform and countless other tasks that are pending for the formalisation of InAGlobe Education. Throughout this process, close contact will be kept with all the partners involved, ensuring that the design is in line with a shared vision. Jaime will then head back to London to resume his studies, where InAGlobe will occupy the remainder of his time. On the other hand, Xavi will remain in Africa, currently resting (we all know he will still be constantly in contact with new ideas, and reasoning) in Tanzania and Kenya. After which, he will remain in Nairobi where he will meet with incubators and accelerators to then meet with social entrepreneurs.

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Secondly, we wanted to round up the overview of the trip that underwent. We began our trip in different corners of Spain (except Alberto, who was dead in the middle: Vigo, Menorca and Madrid. Coming together in Lisbon, where we headed to Maputo overnight. Rather than staying in Maputo, we headed straight to Fundación Khanimambo, (in Xai-Xai), where we spent two days and one night. That weekend, we spent in Tofo, preparing ourselves for the marathon of meetings that we were going to encounter in the next 12 days in Maputo. These included a weekend, in which we kindled a great friendship with Muheti. In Maputo, we managed to meet with four universities: Universidade São Tomas de Moçambique (USTM), Universidade Pedagógica (UP), Instituto Superior de Ciências, Tecnologia e Engenheira de Moçambique (ICSTEM) and, the largest university in the country, Universidad Eduardo Mondlane (UEM). In addition, we met with 9 International NGOs: Medicus Mundi, I-Tech, Communità Sant’Egidio (CSE), Population Services International (PSI), Growth Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), Consejo Interhospitalario de Cooperación (CIC), Medici con L’Africa CUAMM, Ingenieria Sin Fronteras (ISF) and Elizabeth Glaser Paediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF). In addition to these, we met with several players from the Spanish and Italian Cooperation Agencies, and had a phone call with the British Cooperation. Furthermore, we had the chance to present to a world-leading Malaria research centre, the Centro de Investigação de Saúde de Manhiça (CISM), and had the chance to visit a DREAM project AIDS/HIV and Tuberculosis health centre, as part of CSE. After Maputo, we made our way to Casa Do Gaiato, in Massaca, in Maputo Province, where we spent a night. The following day we headed back to Maputo, so that we could then make our way to Ponta D’Ouro. In Ponta we had the important task of crossing the border to renew our visa. After Ponta we made a titanic journey, via Maputo, to reach Nampula. The following day we headed straight to Ilha de Moçambique for a 3-day stay. Next, was Pemba, where we had the chance to meet with Ayuda en Acción, the Spanish honorary consul – a member of the Spanish cooperation agency -, and with Helvetas. In one of these days, we headed with Helvetas into the province of Cabo Delgado to observe the logistics and the work they did on the field! Once again, we were on the move to the island of Ibo, where we remained for 4 days, 1 of which was spent with Fundación Ibo. Then finally the trip back home commenced, but not before fitting a meeting with Oikos, and a dinner with two volunteers of Semillas de Esperanza, in Pemba. And that brings us to where we are now, Alberto arriving in Madrid a day before Jaime, who spent a transit day with Xavi in Dar es Salaam, and Xavi in Zanzibar enjoying a deserved rest!

Next, we wanted to make an incise on what will be posted on the blog from now on. As mentioned, there will be updates coming on the progress in Kenya, giving small insights onto the meetings and the possible collaborations that may arise. In addition to this, the blog will become a platform where our critical thinking on the project will be presented, this will be done through articles and essays on a range of different topics involved with innovation, analysis, development or anything that may come to mind related to the InAGlobe cause. Our aim is to make InAGlobe a tool for exchange of information and knowledge, and sharing our thoughts on the vastly different experiences in Mozambique, and how they may shape our approach we feel is something that may be of interest!

Finally, we would like to express our most profound gratitude to all the actors involved throughout the trip, members of NGOs, educational institutions, friends, bag-packers, volunteers, taxi drivers, cobradores, hotel staff, waiting staff, children, adults, fathers, mothers, teachers, you name it… and that includes all the readers of the blog!

 

 

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Abou the Graphite Miner

So once again we packed our bags and got on the move, this time with one of the earliest starts of the trip: 3 A.M. This was because there were a series of inconsistencies on the departure times, given by different islanders, and it was not clear when the public boat would set out from Ibo. Therefore, there we were by the harbour at 4 A.M., viewing a beautiful sunrise over the mainland of the island. It was a reappearing comment within conversation that we were not going to leave Mozambique without experiencing a sunrise, and finally there it was, breathtakingly seizing the minute of the hour. It was important for us to be in Pemba as early as possible, meaning we could run a meeting in with Oikos, an Italian NGO that has a lot of presence within Mozambique, and to meet a pair of volunteers from a Spanish-Italian locally-based NGO: Semillas de Esperanza, whom run a centre for abandoned and highly vulnerable children, as well as a leper centre, both in Pemba, and a series of educational programmes in Cabo Delgado.

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On the harbour, we finally managed to put together a group of locals and hired out a private chapa (it was a regular chapa, but it was supposed to take a group of people that didn’t turn up). This was on the verge of the timeframe allowed by the tides for the boat to be able to pass through the shallow sea laying between Ibo and Tandanhangue. The return boat ride was not as smooth as the one to Ibo, we kept touching the sand below the boat, having to redistribute the people across the hull to ensure the smallest fretwork;  in addition, at one point the outboard motor came to a sudden halt, which thankfully only lasted a handful of minutes. Upon arrival to Tandanhangue, the boat didn’t manage to reach the harbour, and instead a pair of young men walked a barge over to where the boat had run aground, and picked us up to then take us to the dry harbour. These turned out to be the same men that were operating a ‘my-love’ chapa, which are open-back trucks that carry people around. Although slightly more of a temerity, it turned out to be a much more pleasant journey than expected. The open air made up for the lack of (comfortable) seats (but then again, closed chapas aren’t that comfortable in terms of sitting either…). To our surprise, despite being stopped several times by police, we had little trouble with them (there is usually a fairly thorough questioning process that takes place). Upon arriving to Pemba, we found out that the man sitting on the front seat was actually a transport policeman, who had waived us past all his colleagues during the almost 5 hours of journey! Our “pleasant” experience of the chapa ride was to come to an end when we picked up our ruck-sacks, they had been lying in a puddle of fishy (literally) water. The stench was horrific. We decided to momentarily ignore it until we made it to the hostel.

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Before heading to the hostel we stopped to pick up the shirts that we had at the tailors’, from our previous stay in Pemba. In a timely Mozambican manner, it was no surprise that even though the alfaiato had over a week, he was still finishing up the buttons when we arrived! Needless to say, the shirts turned out awesome! There was little time to celebrate, we had our meeting scheduled with Oikos immediately after lunch, and we had just about enough time to reach the hostel (pre-ordering our food), check in, have a short (useless) attempt at cleaning our bags and get changed for the meeting.


At our meeting with Oikos, we followed a similar structure as most of the meetings we have had throughout the trip, where we presented the project and then engaged in a discussion of troubleshooting and a Q&A, where we cleared out any doubts on the project and at the same time found out more about the work that Oikos does. We had the chance to get good insight on to their ADAPT programme thatis heavily involved in environmental impact, following the analyses of experts in the field. The meeting was very insightful, and gave us a handful of ideas that could be proposed as projects. We hope to hold an ongoing conversation with Oikos to hopefully aid with one of the most important themes haunting planet Earth in this age.

Whilst Jaime and Alberto were at the meeting, Xavi still recovering a little, had two calls in order to organise the reconnaissance expedition to Kenya, to approach social entrepreneurs and incubators, to give a new dimension to the platform, especially on the complex implementation side.

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After these, we needed some air, a little break. We were exhausted. We made the most of the last hours of sun going for a final swim in the straight of Mozambique, taking advantage of the high tide. It was a glorious swim, reigned with even better vibrations that had been present throughout the trip, where even a stray dog, as cute as possibly could be, celebrated with us ecstatically. It was a reflection of the hard work that had helped build one of the most amazing experiences the three of us had ever gone through. We could feel ourselves at the doorway of something with great potential, a potential that could only be fulfilled with hard work and astute thinking; always with the ulterior cause in mind.

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Following the swim, we groomed ourselves and prepared for our flights the following day (still drying our smelly bags); to then have a drink and dinner with the volunteers from “Semillas de Esperanza”. It was a very pleasant and informal encounter, we discussed our experiences in Mozambique, learning a great deal about how the day-to-day of a volunteer is on the field; the reasoning and rhetoric that reigns behind their actions and the motivations to do the work that they do. They were also close to their return to Spain and we had a great laugh, exchanging anecdotes. As with all the other incredible people we have met on this journey, it is refreshing to see people caring so deeply for those they know close to nothing about.

Café e Bolo

On Monday in the island of Ibo we had scheduled our meeting with Fundación Ibo, a Barcelona-based NGO that works primarily in this and the surrounding islands (Quirimbas Archipielago). They are, along with Oikos, the only NGO working in this remote island. They work across a variety of different fields, ranging from education and economic activation, to nutrition and health. Before the meeting, we had seen their mark across the whole island, where crumbling structures have been rehabilitated into new facilities. We would later find out their purpose. These included a children and pregnancy nutrition centre, several education centres and some privately-owned businesses.

We had the chance to present our idea to their coordinator in Ibo. During the meeting we discussed individuals within the foundation that would be interesting to approach, due to their involvement in more technical aspects such as data acquisition for a Doctorate thesis, or the analysis of nutritional data and its digitisation. After the office-based discussion, we were given a tour of some of the facilities in the immediate proximity of the compound. This included the hospitality and oficios school, here we had the chance to see the only library in the whole of Ibo, as well as to taste a newly cooked paella and ceviche that the Tourism students had just learnt to make. It was delicious!  Several educational centres have been created in order to capacitate the local population, especially in skills for the tourism industry, which accounts for the income of 45% of the population on the island.

We then proceeded to the Nutritional Support Centre, where they host 18 children (historically more) every morning to feed them a matabichos to compliment their diet and then have weekly monitoring, in order to ensure that children are growing healthy and with all their nutritional needs met. In addition, pregnant women are also included in a separate programme; which at its conclusion ensures that the baby is weighed at birth. The centre was created to fight the malnutrition that haunted the island for years on end given the lack of diversity within their diet (the problem was not scarcity in quantity, but scarcity in diversity of nutritional sources). We also had the chance to speak to the director of the centre. He demonstrated and explained how data is acquired from the children by the nurse, and how (and which data) it is then logged on to the computer.

Then by our own foot we headed to the Carpentry school, across the Vila do Ibo square. Here we spoke to a volunteer carpenter who had been in Ibo for almost three years, teaching locals to work the machines and take care of them. He spoke to us about the incredible manual and practical capacities that his students have, almost more capable than those he had worked with in Spain. This was an interesting remark, which we associated with the amount of “playing” that children have in their youth, where they spend their time on the streets making toys, playing football, dancing and what not!

We would like to thank Fundación Ibo for their proximity and their time. We spent a wonderful day looking at the work they have been carrying on. We were stunned about how involved they have become in the development of an entire community that had been marginalised for years given its remote location. We hope to be able to collaborate on different fronts and become part of the development of the island as well!

Powder Polvo & Rice

The day after our field day with Helvetas we made our way to the remote island of Ibo. The day began with a not so moderate degree of uncertainty and stress, given that our transport changed driver unexpectedly, and the vehicle transmitted close to zero trust in making the long drive to Tandanhangue within the time needed (a public chapa boat leaves for Ibo every day at high tide, there is no other option – apart from private hires). We did finally make it in time, just… as we arrived we filled the last three spots, and the boat left. The boat ride was pleasant, especially given the fact that we managed to make it, and despite the fact that a goat was located directly beneath our legs. After setting off at 4 A.M., we managed to arrive at the island at 12 A.M.

Not having eaten anything all day, and being used to Mozambique’s rule of “you get your food 2 hours after ordering”, our first objective was finding a restaurant. We soon found out that the only two “restaurants” at Ibo are Benjamin’s and Nassir’s houses. That shows you how remote Ibo really is! They both serve delicious fresh fish, octopus or squid, along with as much rice and matapa (local dish) as you please. There’s a catch. Due to the little number of tourists at the island, Benjamin and Nassir must go buy your food in the market before cooking, which meant meals had to be planned at least 4 hours in advance! Luckily, our Omani friend, Saleh, and Pablo, both who we had met in Ilha de Moçambique was also in Ibo, and we got to tag along to his meal at Nassir’s. After a long meal in Nassir’s backyard, we decided to switch hotel from our initially planned Karibuni to a slightly more comfortbale Miti Miwiri. This was by far the best accommodation of our whole trip, and made our 4 days in the deserted island of Ibo a lot more pleasant. We spent the rest of the day discovering the island. The majority of its 7000 habitants live in one corner of the island, near the lodges. Similarly, to Ilha de Moçambique, locals were excited to see some new faces and were happy to show us around (or follow us around in packs of 30 in the case of boys and girls under the age of 12).

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Our second day started with a boat trip to the near by island of Matemo, along with some snorkelling on the way. We were joined by a group of Spanish ladies, who had also found out that scuba-diving at the island was way too expensive and snorkelling would be the only option, and a terribly interesting Indian couple whom both worked in InAGlobe fields of interest: Design Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship Education. We started off by snorkelling with dolphins and followed by a beautiful shipwreck. When asking when the shipwreck happened, our captain/guide told us “since forever, even before the oldest man in Ibo was born. No one knows!”. Finally, we reached the island of Matemo, a deserted paradise island similar to those you see in the Maldives, where we got to do some exploring and reading before heading back to Ibo.

During the next two days, the boys stayed mainly around the village for a variety of reasons. One being that Xavi was not at his finest, feeling a little off and needing some time to recover, and because a lot of time was needed to discuss and further define the structure of the platform, of the partnerships and the next steps for InAGlobe. It was important to have these meetings given that Xavi was going to continue his way through Africa, and Jaime and Alberto would go back to Europe and take into their hands another kind of work for InAGlobe. A curious occurrence during these couple days of internal meetings was the common appearance of macacos, around the courtyard of the hotel!


Despite this, Alberto and Jaime did go on a historic tour of the village, which was terribly interesting, finding out the ins and outs of the different parties that had been involved in an island that had primarily been a slave trading island. It was actually the last colonial enclave to have stopped trading slaves (as it is generally understood, as one could say that slavery hasn’t yet been an abandoned practice). It was also the chance to see the oldest man in the island: Joao Baptista. This was a 90-year-old man who had lived through the Portuguese occupation, the war of Liberation, the Civil War, utter poverty, to finally be a mediating figure in between black people and white people, in search of a synergy that would help the island of Ibo. One evening, Jaime and Alberto took on the streets of Ibo driven by curiosity and joined the “party” at the local disco.

Mozambican-Swiss Hospitality & Grain

Wednesday was a very exciting day. We had the chance to go into the field with a Project manager from Helvetas. Our aim was to get a real feel of how the work on the field was for Helvetas, to understand the different actors in the value chain and to also understand the culture better, in respect to the social and hierarchical aspects of a project. During the whole day we spent several hours in the car, which gave us the time to speak further with Mauricio, troubleshooting and learning more and more about the field. We would like to express deep gratitude to Helvetas for the opportunity and for having organised an impeccable day.

 

The day began from our hostel, from which we initially drove an hour inland into the province of Cabo Delgado, to the district of Ancuade, specifically to Matuate. In Matuate, there is a water storage and treatment facility that was co-financed, and still is supported and monitored by Helvetas. The operator is private, which allows for the facility to be self-sustainable and at the same time creates jobs within the community; this is an approach that we share with Helvetas. This is a form that compels people to pay for the service given that they see that it is owned by the same community (the labour force is local). This is still a young project, which is in the process of becoming sustainable, still having to provide water for more families that will allow the whole functioning to be independent of any financial help. During our drive we found out very interesting information about the climate in Cabo Delgado, and it was very interesting to find out that as a result of the binary seasons (dry and rainy) the rivers are termed “periodic”, as they completely dry out during the dry season. This makes water storage ever most crucial.

After the Matuate, we headed to to the city of Chiure, capital of the district that holds the same name. In Chiure we made several visits; starting with one of the main facilitating and dictating bodies of the area, the local government office that is in charge of economic growth. In the area of Chiure, given its large concentration of farming communities, the office puts emphasis on agricultural support. The importance of this governmental structure is crucial. In Mozambique 55% of the population are subsistence farmers, and thus agriculture can become a means of income if up-scaled. We had the chance to speak with the lady in charge, giving us a good opportunity to get an account from an administrative perspective. After this we headed to one of the main attractions for us, to attend a training. As part of the InAGlobe platform, one of the components is a training programme, and as such we want to have an idea of how NGOs do it in Mozambique in the field, allowing us to be as culturally sensitive as possible, as well as to cater it to the learning methods that local Mozambican volunteers and educators are familiar with. During the viewing there were very interesting insights made on the technology used, the Powerpoint presentation, how the lecturer addressed the crowd, within other aspects of interest. We were very intrigued about how oral discussion is used as a tool to educate despite being in a lecture format.

After Chiure city, we headed deep into a rural area of the district to visit a farming village and to there have the chance to speak to the association of farmers of the locality, Muhuranga. We were greeted with singing and clapping, and with a home-made meal. The site was of houses made of adobe and thatch roofs. We had the chance to do a Q&A with the presidents of the different cooperatives within the association. This gave us valuable interaction time and insight on the kind of preoccupations they have as well as to understand how their rhetoric was guided. After the Q&A, we were given a tour of the village, visiting grain storage devices, drying techniques sites and the well and water pump that supply the village with water.

The day out in the field was an amazing experience for the members of InAGlobe, we had the chance to observe first hand the work of an international NGO and how they operate. Once again we would like to thank Helvetas, and specifically Mauricio for spending the entirety of his day showing us the field. We are very excited with all the ideas that arose from this experience and hope to work closely with Helvetas in the following months, and, hopefully, years.

 

Double-booked Taxi

We left Ilha de Moçambique at 4 A.M. on Monday, in a mesh of drowsiness and mild voracity (due to a lack of breakfast), and made our way to Namialo. We sat at a café and ordered a coffee, which turned out to not be opportune. In a moment of panic amidst a “lost-in-translation” situation. Coffee had to be left on the spot, paid in a second, whilst Alberto and Xavi sprinted off behind the “bus to Pemba”. Jaime made his way 50 metres behind, as he started sprinting, refusing a motorcycle hitch… just to see that Xavi and Alberto were now 200 metres ahead on motorcycles. Hard-headedly, Jaime continued running until the bus stop, where to everyone’s dismay, the bus was not to Pemba. Thus we waited there for 20 minutes until the actual bus came. The bus ride was a lot more pleasant than any chapa that had been taken before. For those travelling in the future to Mozambique, the bus is definitely the more comfortable option, despite the authenticity offered by chapas. We subsequently arrived in Pemba at 1 P.M., which gave us time to have lunch, go through the drama of changing sleeping situation several times and go for a visit to the beach before a dinner meeting that was scheduled with Ayuda En Acción (Spanish affiliate of ActionAid).

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The Sleeping Situation was an interesting one, we had a choice between a wall-less dorm (with a complementary surprise) or a dusty tent. Initially, Alberto and Xavi were swayed by the dorms, which had nicer beds and mosquito nets; Jaime went for the tent, prioritising confinement to comfort. We then went to the beach to recharge a little after the 8-hours worth of travelling that morning. Beaches in the North of Mozambique have extremely long shallow fronts that become exposed at low tide. In these low lying fronts, there are rocks that hold pools of water, in which one can find countless small sea creatures, ranging from moving starfish, to shrimps and crabs. After the short spell at the beach we went back to the hostel, here we spent the rest of the day-light hours preparing meetings and discussing further the direction of the organisation. As the sun went down we decided to shower and get ready for dinner, to then continue working until the arrival of Ayuda En Acción. Little did we know that we would not have a chance to work very much before dinner. Alberto (fashionably last to come out of the shower), came in slight distress to meet Jaime and Xavi. He had found a spider web that cover almost a quarter of the ceiling of the dormitory room, and within this web a massive spider, the kind that you don’t want to know that they are in a radius of any arbitrary distance. This caused Alberto and Xavi to move into tents, where Xavi shared with Jaime and Alberto had one to himself.


The dinner meeting with Ayuda En Acción went smoothly, despite punctual power cuts. We had the chance to discuss the InAGlobe venture with them, and in turn they explained their background, their motivations and the work that they do, both at a local level and as an organisation. The meeting was very enriching to kickstart our week in Pemba, and it gave us a rough guide on how NGO’s operate in the area of Cabo Delgado. Ayuda En Acción works across different fields, but their current kickstarting venture in Cabo Delgado is the preparation of a school for the programme “Luces para aprender”, which seeks to power a school with solar energy, for classes not to be dependant on day-light. Given its complexity, Ayuda En Acción is still preparing the landscape for it’s installation. We will keep contact for prospective collaboration.
The next morning, we set out to meet with the AECID (Spanish Cooperation Agency for Development) representative in Pemba. The meeting was extremely enlightening, it gave a very clear landscape of the cooperation and development work being undertaken in what was the most underdeveloped and marginalised province of Mozambique at the end of the 16-year Civil War. A very interesting approach to the conversation was a historically driven perspective, how the events and organisation have determined the past state of Cabo Delgado, and where development has taken the province to.

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The second and final meeting of the day was with a Swiss NGO, Helvetas. Helvetas works in Cabo Delgado across agriculture and water sanitation disciplines, with a special eye on activating the economy with their projects. The meeting was very successful, with ideas pouncing from corners on end, and with invaluable context and organisational landscape being discussed. We found our approaches to development were very aligned. Finally, Helvetas showed great interest in InAGlobe and organised a field day for us, where we would visit several of the actors of the value chain that exists for project implementation. This visit would allow us to get a real feel and understanding of how Helvetas operates, how information is acquired and what are the motivation behind the different projects.


On our last day in Maputo, Muheti gifted us with something very valuable to us, a capulana, a textile that was introduced through the Portuguese trade, but was taken up by Mozambican women using it as a fashion item, presenting their marital and social status, for example. So that afternoon we headed to a local alfaiate, to get shirts made for us from the capulanas we had been gifted. Once these are done, a picture will be included! Our day ended with Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back, although we didn’t last the entirety of the film, the force was not with us.

 

Sesame & Ginger Tuna

Our experience in Ilha de Moçambique was absolutely riveting. It was our chance to get very close to the local people, to understand their living conditions and the components that filled their unique culture. Ilha is a UNESCO Heritage site, a well deserved status. It is a town that has lived through the ages, running from the rule of the Sultanate of Zanzibar and Oman, to Portuguese Colonial occupation and then to the devastation it suffered during the war of Liberation. In the last few years the town has been rebuilt and cleaned up, and is considered a gem within Mozambique. Our experience of Ilha was exclusively of the island, but it covered a spectrum of flavours and colours of adventures!


The day we arrived, we immediately made a series of acquaintances, starting with Saleh, whom we had met on the chapa on the way there. Before really investing in these human relationships we had to refuel, after spending hours on end travelling uncomfortably without a glimpse of food our priorities were swayed. That evening, we had a small dinner with a group from the hostel, and then decided to go to an open-air club near the fortress to dance our Friday night away. Midway through the 20-minute walk, full of history and stories, the whole province (yes, the whole province of Nampula) experienced a power cut. So what was a walk viewing the buildings and streets became a walk shared between complicated and slightly daunting navigation, and a beautiful presentation of the firmament. Electricity did not return until dawn, thus the whole experience in Piscina (the outdoor club) revolved around a makeshift fire and motorcycles shining their headlight in our direction. It was quite the experience!


The next day, each of us seemed to take the Ilha experience to their own hands. Jaime headed early with Saleh to the barracas, and started to realise two main things, the predominance of Islam within the population and the enormous number of children that populate the island. It came to no surprise that most of the Cooperation work that is undertaken in the island is as orphanage and refuge centres for children. During this long walk, Jaime and Saleh had the chance to see children jumping rope (and by children, Saleh is included), as well as a private performance of a group of girls singing and dancing, and finally also a local league football match between Ilha de Moçambique and Nacala, on the beach with what seemed to be imaginary consensual lines.


In the meantime, Xavi spent the morning photographing both the island’s beautiful scenery and its inhabitants. Both children and mothers were thrilled by the opportunity of having a portrait taken and would pose in all sorts of ways, after which they would rush to see what the camera had captured. A few of the many children that tagged along to Xavi stuck longer and took the roles of tour guides, sharing their stories and bonding over their love for football. Alberto’s morning was more laid-back. He went for breakfast at a local restaurant and admired the colonial architecture from an open terrace while enjoying his book.
In the afternoon, the boys regrouped and spent some time by the pool, reading and cooling off. Ilha is more commonly associated with luxury hotels, which turned out to allow access to their pool for less than 3€, reason why we decided to go relax and work there. That evening we headed to bead fairly early, the exhaustion from the previous day took a hit and we were all asleep by 10:30 P.M.


The following day began in a similar manner, except Xavi and Jaime set off together to explore the town, beginning with a Hindu Temple, and then back into the barracas. This time, they purchased cookies and sweets for the kids. They could not even fathom what was coming. Once in the barracas, after joining Saleh, Jaime took a liking of a group of six young kids who posed for a photograph. At this point Jaime decided to take out a few sweets to give to them, and, out of nowhere, children, babies and mothers started to appear out of nowhere. There was no fighting it. They took over, with some appallingly selfish behaviour from some of the mothers, as well as boys slapping sweets of his hands. Amidst the situation, Jaime tried to get some order, a line and a step back. It was a lost cause. Seeing the chaos, Saleh and Xavi did not think about intervening but decided they’d rather document, taking pictures and filming, as well as from a “each man to his own luck” abandonment from Xavi to avoid having a horde around him. The scene was an interesting one. Despite the incident, the exploration of the inner town did not halt. After lunch, we decided to explore the fort, which was adjacent the local beach bar which we ate at, but instead of going inside, we decided to surround it with a moderate low tide. This little adventure included a bit of climbing that allowed us to get into an area of the fort, which was actually closed on that day.


The day ended with a series of meetings and packing up, as well as a farewell dinner with Saleh. Agreeing on a next meet as soon as he decided to return to Oman! We were to set out for Pemba the next morning at 4 A.M., after an incredibly intense two days in Ilha. Coming so close to local culture and living conditions, despite Ilha being a bubble in itself, was extremely enriching. It gave us valuable insight into the culture and the circadian rhythm that local Mozambicans follow.

Airport Coffee

The journey to Ilha de Moçambique from Ponta D’Ouro was a titanic feat, including all forms of travel: land (both road and sand), sea and air. The journey also included private and public forms of transport, and began at 9 am one day (with a little bit of anxiety) and ended at 5 pm the next day. Needless to say it was an exhausting trip that took us from Ponta D’Ouro to Catembe, to Maputo, to Nampula, to Namialo and finally to Ihla de Moçambique.
The same man that drove us to the border, Stevo, drove us to Catembe in his chapa. We initiated the trip with a little hiccup, we initially thought the flight from Maputo was 2 hours later than it turned out to be when we double checked an hour before set-off. A series of factors played in our favour, firstly a fairly large buffer and secondly an initial overestimation of the travel time (which was obtained from a different route taken on the way to Ponta). This meant that we actually arrived to Catembe, to take the ferry across the bay, on time. In Maputo we had the chance to grab a quick meal (at our favourite low-cost Indian restaurant “Galaxy”) to then head straight to the airport. Passing security Jaime had an interesting encounter with a police-woman, after being signalled out for having the dangerous item composing of a couple small metal locks.


The flight to Nampula was a pleasant journey, which gave a chance to crack a cold one with the boys in celebration of the Outstanding Achievement Award 2017 from Imperial College that was granted earlier in the week (with some incredulity). Once having touched ground that evening in Nampula, we met an older couple that were heading that same evening to Ilha de Moçambique to volunteer at an orphanage for girls. We mention this couple because we were going to bump into them several more times once at Ilha, despite heading there a day later. Once we had our bags, we headed to the hostel for a well-deserved meal and rest.


The following morning, we set off early towards the train station of Nampula to catch a regular chapa to Ilha, and here is were the real adventure began. Initially, all went smoothly, we promptly found a chapa, and then things began to hint towards complication. The chapa driver and cobrador were trying to get 2 more people in than could actually fit (we were already 23 in a chapa built for 12, on top of a few chickens free to roam the floor of the vehicle). The journey proceeded smoothly for the first 3 hours, until this chapa that was supposedly going to Ponta D’Ouro forced everyone to get off at Namialo, to get on on another chapa. Before heading off, there was a heated exchange between us and the driver of our first chapa, where the driver had the intent of getting more money than had been agreed. Finally, 20 minutes later, once that was settled and we set off on this second chapa that spent two hours looking for people to fill up, to then finally head towards Ilha, stopping every 300m almost. Once in Lumbo, we had to once again change chapa. This was the final chapa that took us across the bridge to the centre of the island, followed by 10-minute walk to the hostel. Amidst this mess, we met a character that would be present throughout our experience in Ilha: Saleh.

Love Cafe

Our journey to Ponta D’Ouro began with a scarce handful of hours of sleep, involving a taxi, followed by a ferry, followed by a chapa and then a 20-minute walk uphill with all our bags. The road to Ponta was interesting, amidst the cramming of a 4 by 4 chapa we had the chance to observe the new infrastructures (roads and bridges mainly) that Chinese companies are investing in, and how they are hoping to connect Maputo to South Africa through Durban. Whilst driving to Ponta we slowly began to realise that the sand we had experienced in Tofo was going to fall short; the roads surrounding Ponta are barely roads, they are sand trails, kilometres and kilometres of sand trails. Upon arriving, we met Josh, our host at the lodge we were staying, it turned out that we were the unique guests for the evening, and accounted for 50% of the following days as well. This also allowed us to be upgraded from a dormitory room to private rooms (although Jaime’s experience was more short-lived).


Ponta was an opportunity for us to take a moment and internalise everything that had occurred the previous week, all the discussions that we engaged in, all the prospects and ideas that were formulated, and the partnerships that were potentially going to be created. Over the past 12 days we had experienced a lot of very intense emotions, especially regarding our drive and what we are seeking to accomplish, and for that a few days of introspection were necessary. In Ponta we had the chance to couple mornings of surf and afternoons of work. Renowned for it’s waves and its surf, we were not the most fortunate, we found ourselves in waters with incredibly strong currents and complicated exits (for our abilities). Despite this, we managed to enjoy a few hours each day serving as an intense workout. The evenings revolved a lot of discussion, troubleshooting and brainstorming; however, the second evening there was some confusion with Jaime’s room. Having unknowingly booked the room Jaime was in, he was forced to move out to another (less fancy) single room. This room turned out to be infested of spiders, thus there was a swift and disorderly evacuation towards the original 10 bed dormitory, to then be the single occupant.


An important task to carry out in Ponta was renewing our visa. Our current Mozambican visas allow for three months stay, but but we can only remain in the country for 30 consecutive days, thus we needed to exit and re-enter. We were thirty minutes away from the border so it was a swift procedure, despite a little hurdle when coming back in.


Ponta is predominantly a South African holiday retreat, and given now it is winter in the Southern Hemisphere it was fairly empty, allowing for a peaceful stay. After these three days of rest and reflection, we were set to head off to the North and see the work that is being carried out there by the NGOs working on the ground.

Associação Casa Velha

The sun rose in Casa do Gaiato at the chime of the “rise and shine” bells, ringing again shortly afterwards to call for breakfast. We had slept in separate buildings, Xavi and Alberto stayed together in Casa Mae (0-6 year-olds), and Jaime stayed in Casa 2 (9-11 year-olds). We had a great breakfast, after which we shared some time with some of the kids from Casa Mae, whom came to say hello. One mentioned that he was also called “Jaime”, and there was an immediate bonding moment, Jaime took Jaime to play with his friends, when they were all getting new sandals. One thing that was consistently present throughout meals was the use of mandioca as the staple carbohydrate, with which truly delicious sponge cakes were made!

After playing with the children for a bit, we set out to inspect the solar panel installations that Herman, a 24 year-old Gaiato and recent graduate of physics, had done. Herman was a shy but brilliant guy, with a sense of physics very different to that of Alberto’s that didn’t stop them from bonding. Herman had done the installation of these as part of his final year thesis. On our way to inspect the second set, by the carpentry and the barn, we encountered a huge and out-of-control fire. The haystacks that had been collected on the estate of the Casa do Gaiato had caught fire (unintentionally or intentionally). These are routinely sold to nearby cattle ranchers, and are a way of economically sustaining the orphanage. Upon seeing the fire, a cloud of shock initially paralysed us, hereafter we began moving as many haystacks out of the mound, in order to save some of the stock and to remove fuel to the approaching and spreading fire. We spent a couple hours helping beat the fire down and separating hay from the approaching fire. This was one of the most intense two hours that we had experienced in our life.

Once the fire was put under control by the local workers and improvised firefighters, we headed to inspect the remaining solar panel installations, as well as a light system installation that garners solar light and redirects it in such a way that the room becomes lit (with a similar concept to a window on the ceiling but with an aluminium tube and some PVC plastic), called a solar tube. People such as Herman are the kind that we would hope to work with, identifying technological opportunities to problems found on the field. After the inspection, Jose Manuel drove us around the estate to show us the landscape and the different fields that are used. Mid drive we encountered an unexpected boulder that brought the car to a halt, with not automotive capacity to move. Thus we had to get off the back of this rudimentary pick up truck to push the car past the boulder that was keeping the wheels above the ground.

Once we got back from the drive, we all groomed ourselves, to remove the smell of smoke and burning that had lingered on our hair and our clothes. We then went to eat at the lunch room, which had a large number of visitors (given it was a Saturday), to whom the kids then danced and sung to a series of songs that they had prepared. Once again, we were shown that being born in East Africa gave you supernatural grasp of tempo and rhythm, or so it seemed to three guys educated in London…

After lunch, we had the chance to present to Quiteria our project, to which she responded positively, especially because it would give boys like Herman the opportunity to get involved in new projects that gave him exposure to new cultures and new ways of thinking about innovation and development. It also posed itself as the possibility of making Casa do Gaiato more efficient and organised, something that as of today only Quiteria has full reins of, on top of bringing innovative development to the community. As the meeting concluded we had to figure out the way to return to Maputo. After substantial uncertainty and a couple failed or discarded attempts, two of the visitors thankfully agreed to hitch us a ride to Maputo. These two men were diocese, one the ambassador for the Vatican in Mozambique, and the other a colleague of his in Mozambique as part of his education. These two men were extremely interesting, and posed a whole new standpoint to how we viewed the structure of the Catholic church. As a result, the whole drive (except 10 minutes which they requested silence to do their prayers) was spent conversing and learning about one another.

The evening in Maputo was a whole new world, we met with Margarida, a Portuguese friend that included us in her dinner plans with her friends before heading to a Latino night to dance the night away. After a few beers at the bar, with some surprise, we bumped into one of the country managers of the meetings that we had ran the previous week. Despite being the biggest city in Mozambique, Maputo seems to be a small world once you get to know it. And so the night ended, and we prepared for a short set of hours before we headed to Ponta.