The day started with downpours in Xai-Xai and I could not recall the last time I was so happy to see rain! All our chats yesterday were around the severe draught this year and that precious rain should have fallen months before..
We left towards Chokwé where Mano Hilario, our General Coordinator, was already expecting us. The recent rains (and a fair mount of street holes!) delayed our journey but we still made it into the S Vicente Paulo School at 10.30 am. Our Local Partner Sister Alice received us together with Donaldo, the young ALG Technician in the school, and showed us around the extensive SVP school compound.
We visited the After-Class support classrooms where ALG offers tutoring and a meal to the most vulnerable children. The year 6 students were in class and the teacher explained us how important this programme was to improve the learning capabilities of these children.
We were interrupted by the arrival of our Sponsored Child - Mafita Nazario Pedro - that Bruno and me support since 2009. I was so excited to finally meet her in person! We had lots of questions for Mafita but we controlled ourselves so she would have the chance to make her questions first. Very shy and reserved, she asked if we had children of our own, parents and siblings, and seemed to enjoy all the photos that we showed her of our family. She timidly and softly answered most of our questions. I was very impressed to hear she really enjoyed attending the Culinary course in school, financed by ALG, and that her favourite gift from us were school notebooks! She hasn’t yet decided what she wants to do when she grows up but she really likes Portuguese and English.
Our friendly chat was interrupted by te arrival of her brother - Nazario Pedro Jr - who is also sponsored by Bruno and me. They both live with their grandma, which is unfortunately HIV-positive, and they seem to be close and good friends with each other. Nazario turned 18 this month and is currently in year 10. As his sister, he also needs to figure out what to do next. We spoke a bit about soccer - he is a huge fan of Ronaldo and Messi! - and also about the Culinary classes in school.
By now the morning class shift had ended and the afternoon children started arriving. We gave our warm farewell to our two sponsored children and promised to keep in close touch!
We then went to visit the Technical Courses area of the school where today children were learning Culinary and Arts&Crafts. The friendly and smiling Sister Aida received us with open arms. She showed us how to small purses and wallets with recycled carton boxes covered in beautiful “capulanas” (local painted cloth) . They were impossible to resist - I bought mine for just 75 meticais (one pound)!
While we were waiting for the monitor in the Culinary class, brother Hilario took us to see the family huts built by ALG for some of the children in the SVP school. We saw the building works on the new home for orphaned sisters Maria and Delfina.
We returned to SVP to catch the culinary class midway. Today Lucilia showed the students how to make delicious fried dough covered in coconut. Everyone was very focused on their tasks and delighted to be there. And we of course could not resist and bought a package of 10 for 30 meticais. The others will be sold tomorrow.
Before leaving school, we went to check the vegetable hut. Brother Hilario showed us the seeds that were planted but that the lack of rain in Chokwe was compromising its proper development.
We left school when the afternoon shift ended. As we approached the gate to leave school, we were greeted with so many happy waves and smiles… I could not have wished for a better godbye fors such a full and rewarding day in the wonderful SVP school.