Wednesday, May 27, 2015

I was lost but then I found a place for me...

Today I went back 11 years in my life…to my first trip to Mozambique as a volunteer in Escolinha do André. In this Africa day, Sister Beta marked the occasion (the teachers left because it was Africa’s day) with a sports tournament. When we arrived they already ran all over the place but the joy was still in the air. I was surrounded by children; hugs; hands that wanted to touch me; fingers searching for mine; soft strokes in my arms and in my clothes... It was the warmest welcome, and the children joined the party. It was already worth it for me.
The surprise did not take long. Old students were warned that Mana Sara was coming and, for the first time, they showed up. Edia who sells in the market to provide for her 3 children – she sent the husband away… Irene has a small child and another one at the pre-school. Salvador who was a skilled basket maker and spent two years in the Chokwé construction works…
We reminisced on their lives, on their choices which drove them away from pre-school. We talked about education and about what they want from life these days. I saw a nostalgia I thought didn’t exist anymore. Years after their departure many knew now they made the wrong choice and asked for help. We discussed what could be different, how they could turn their lives around. How could the sisters and A Little Gesture help. The talk lasted a few hours. We talked about how they could give back to the pre-school, spending time with the little ones, learning a trade. They showed interest, then enthusiasm and, after a while, a strong will.
During a special moment I remembered the song I wrote for them 11 years ago. Hearing  the first word the oldest (the regretful but still rebellious) gathered in a circle sharing a moment of happiness; remembering perhaps the times when life was much easier and they joined me singing even louder “ I was lost and then I found a place for me – Andre’s Pre-school. I have a friend’s help, no longer wander the streets, now I’m going to study”
The song was heartfelt by all of them and I cannot forget the deep sadness in Salvador’s eyes who want to help us in basketry. I wonder if he is going to return to his place in Escolinha do André ?

by ALG Chairman and Founder Sara Vicente, during her visit to Mozambique , May 2015

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