Friday, July 20, 2018

News from EFI: the story of Fortunato

The young Abel, hired for hardly a year as our technician in the Pre School Escolinha Flower of Infancy (EFI), continues to increase his involvement in the school. This week he went to visit the child Fortunato.

Abel wanted to understand his behaviour more, as he was trouble in school, not following rules. More problematic, he was often coming to school dirty showing signs he had no care or bath before coming to school.
Abel met his grandmother “Tia Maria” (from the father´s side) who actually works at our pre school as a cook and she told him the sad story of Fortunato. His stepmother does not want the child at home and they dropped Fortunato at his other grandmother (from the mother´s side). However, this lady is blind and unable to cook at home, often eating at the home of relatives, which led Fortunato to often beg for food amongst his neighbours.

In light of this, Tia Maria decided to enrol the child in the Escolinha. The absence of a parent as a younger child means he follows no rules. Tia Maria promised to try harder making him understand the need for rules and obedience. And more importantly, the teachers at the school now understand his background and will also make a double effort.

We keep our fingers crossed for Fortunato and hope this ALG pre-school can help him grow to be an amazing little boy!

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Dealing with Failure: the case of Isaurinha

Sometimes children die on us. But it is not often. It is part of our basis to provide children with access to food and basic health services. So we have that as an extremely sporadic event. It saddens us and makes us wonder what could we have done to avoid it, like with our Belide who passed away earlier this year.
But the real disappointment comes more often than death, and it is called deception. We build our resilience to focus on the successes, because we know the hit rate is tough, especially as kids get older, especially when we deal with girls. Maybe that is why we had our hopes so high for Isaurinha. She was one of our first Uni Scholarships and had been with us from a very young age. She was part of my ‘first group’ and through the years we watched her grow and become a young woman, wanting to study and staying away from the usual path for other girls - teenage pregnancy.

We gave her all that we believed was possible. She chose to move cities from her home in Xai-Xai and pursue a degree in Chokwe. We financed her tuition and supported her housing expenses. We interceded with the Local Partner the Vicentine nuns to give her a decent and protected place to stay, and asked for understanding when this promising 18 year old girl sometimes arrived past the 9 o’clock curfew. Multiple times she was given an ultimatum to change her erratic behaviour and multiple times we interceded with our Local Partner to give her one more chance. She always had good excuses, and most importantly, she always demonstrated a genuine interest in her studies.

Deep inside we always knew she was a tough case, in that limbo between taking the opportunity to break through and just following the world around her. Communication deteriorated at points. We require the ALG Uni Scholarship students to send news and grades on a regular basis to keep their scholarship. We know it is easy for them to go astray. And so did Isaurinha.

Today we found out about months of deception, where she seems to have dropped her 3rd year at University months ago, if she registered this year at all. The local nun that had warmed up to her and to supporting her is heart broken. Our trust in these older students falters. Despite the tight system we run around all of them, it still fails.

And yes, I am heartbroken too. Saddened by her choice. Saddened by my inability to explain to her how important this opportunity was to change the life she has. It was not by lack of trying. Isaurinha is personally financed by one of our ALG Trustees, who in her last trip had this same conversation with her. We all did.

Our knee jerk reaction is to ask all Uni Scholars for renewed immediate proof of their studies or otherwise cancel their scholarship next month. But our true reaction is one much deeper and emotional. We wonder if we can change this cycle, we wonder how we can change this. We want to change this cycle. We have to. So we need to remember those who made it - Hilario, Silvestre, Joaquim, Gra├ža, Eduardo, Gil, Helio, Mauricio, Helder... - and learn from them more than we learn from our deceptions.

Sara Vicente.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Our little ones get moving at the SVP Pre-School!

Today we received a school report from our vibrant Pre-School in S. Vicente de Paulo. We are increasingly proud of our young Local Technicians who stay close to the children and their day to day activities, so we are always pleased to get happy smiles and detailed news. This time, our technician Jaime sent us a weekly report which almost allowed us to be inside the classroom and their play time!

First, the children were learning about families – the names used to describe different family relatives through pictures. They also worked hard on their colours, using the colours of the flag of Mozambique (green, white, black, yellow, red) to practice their newly acquired skills. Jaime highlighted 2 young girls – Nalicia, who can tell any colour by its correct name and Belquisse, who draws and colours extremely well! We look forward to see some of her artwork!

A tougher task was to ask the children to tell a story from home, or a tale from their grandparents. The children struggled to start, but almost all ended up participating in the end. We are very proud of all them.

To round up, the week still included some movement and sport, namely football, to go aligned with the Football Season!