Archive | August, 2014

Letter #4

12 Aug

Ola all,

If you didn’t hear from me Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year. I am sure that everyone had a great time. I am happy to say that I spent my Holiday season in Mozambique. And no worries it was spent with some great people and I had a wonderful time. Since the year has come to a close I thought this letter would be not just about the great things that are happening here but also some of the difficulities that I am facing. I would love to paint an only rosy picture but that of course would not be 100% true.   So this letter is the Good, the Bad and the Fabulous. Lol

Let’s start with the Good. I LOVE Manhica. And I want to make sure that everyone knows why. It is the people. The people here are the best people you will ever meet. Friendly, caring and truly want the best for you. For example, during the Holiday season my phone decided to stop working. It stopped working on a Saturday. I went to town on a Sunday trying to buy a new phone, but everywhere was closed. I started talking to a shop owner that I have befriended. At first he said that he would give me his phone if he had one. Then he went out on the street and found a boy who had a phone that he was willing to sell. The boy was trying to sell it for a price I would not take 250MTs equivalent to about $10.00, not a lot but it wasn’t worth it since I still had to buy a new phone.. So the shop owner, Micheal is his name told me to give him 100MTs. Micheal then gave the other 100MTs and told the boy to take a ring from his store for the balance. Those are the kinds of people I meet here.

untitled 2


Also at this shop is a Mozambican girl named Innocencia. I sit with her almost every other day. She is sweet girl, 20 years old. And has big dreams of doing something with her life, traveling the world and finishing her education.


Those are just some people in town who I have grown to love. Then there is my school. Here in Manhica.

I have meet some amazing people that really are taking care of me. I will start with Tinga. If you have skyped with me then you have most likely seen him. He has been here with me during the holiday times when no one else is at the school. He is the art teacher here and was an orphan. He has worked himself into his position and he loves what he does. He is the person I primarily speak Portuguese with since everyone else speaks English!!

Then there is Micas. The Music Teacher. He invited me to his wedding the weekend before Chirstmas. He is an awesome guy who calls just to check on me and make sure that I am still alive.


Daniel is the 3rd English Teacher here at school. He has also worked with volunteers for many years. I have kind off adopted his family. I spent Chirstmas at his house, cooked with his wife and had a great time. Although Daniel is on a quest to find me and every other volunteer Mozambican husbands. I think it’s just because he doesn’t like to see us go. Lol


Then we have Professor Lima, he is a music teacher at the school I hope to work with as my secondary project. He is extremely passionate about music and dance. His school was constructed with the help of volunteers a few years ago and he has been working to keep it up every since. Difficult because the students can’t pay regularly and it is hard for him to commit all of his time to the school since he doesn’t get paid. He is also an English teacher and would love to quit his job and work with at the Music School all the time but money would be an issue.


So that is the good.

The bad.. I hate insects.. bugs, everyone who knows me knows that. And here ofcourse they are in abundance. To start many of you may have heard about my cockroach problem. My house was literally overrun with cockroaches.. I spent two weeks cleaning out every nook and cranny in the house. I went through 10.. yes 10 cans of bug spray! And I couldn’t cook. Thank goodness for Tinga who feed me for the week that I was on a no food in the house strike. Glad to say now though there are virtually none left. One every once in a while I can deal with, but..ugghh..… Also, mosquitos looove me.. My legs are scared from Mosquito bites right now. I don’t know what I need to do but I am looking at something that I can get to keep the mosquitoes away and now reduce the scars I have.

Next bad is the pressure. As much as I love Manhica, this is a place where the volunteer before me made a wonderful lasting impression. I hate to compare myself to other people but I can’t help it and all that I think about is well dam.. what is everyone gonna think if I don’t do the same things she did or act the same way she did. But one PC rule is never to compare yourself to other volunteers. I am trying to keep that in mind and assess what the community needs and try to help out in a way that I can rather than only continuing what the previous volunteers may have done.

Final as much as I love passaering (walking around) in the community and making new friends and hanging out with people. There is A LOT of down time right now. You have to really work to not occupy your thoughts with things that can make you nuts. Especially on the Malaria meds! LoL J/k But it is quite a challenge to find things to do and occupy your time. You can only hang out with people so much and getting into town isn’t the most fun journey either. So I am relying on Portuguese movies, the library and Game of Thrones, and The Wire. LOL. Which brings me to something very important. IF ANYONE CAN GET ME THE NEW SEASON OF GAME OF THRONES, SCANDAL etc.. on a USB drive or something I would LOOOVVVEE You!

Now the Fabulous!


Again I love it here. My holiday was spent cooking with wonderful people and trying to speak Portuguese. Lol Yeah TRYING! It is still a challenge, but I love it. I love sending texts in Portuguese and having people understand what I am saying and understanding what people are saying. I am excited to start teaching at Chibututuine. I was able to sit in on the graduation of the previous class and it was beautiful. This week we start the entrance exams and interviews for the new class coming in. I can’t wait to meet my students and get back into a classroom.


My favorite place on a hot day is Casa Fresca, an awesome café ( serves anything from pig head and xima to hamburgers! My view is awesome, we are on a cliff  and the view of  mountains in the background that is the beach that we walked to that I mentioned a few letters ago.


Thank you for the emails, messages, videos and skype convos. As much as I love it here I miss you all! I am still working on my school library here so if anyone has Essence or Ebony Magazines, and even Times, Newsweek, People anything please send what you can. Also, if you can send me your mailing address that would be great. I would like to keep it in a file so if I ever need to send anything I can just sent it.

Fica Bem!



Letter #3

7 Aug

December 8, 2013

Ola All,

A lot has happened in the last few weeks, this past month especially has been a world wind of emotions.   A lot of feeling like life back over there in the states is moving forward and feeling a little helpless in that I can’t take part in it.

November is kind of the start of the Holiday season, and here it doesn’t really feel like it. But I know that everyone else in the states is starting to prepare themselves for the holidays. Here we decided to try to celebrate the best way we could by having a Thanksgiving dinner. We separated into groups and selected a “traditional” American Thanksgiving dish to prepare. I got corn bread! Each group prepared cooked a dish with the resources that we had, and we ate! Mashed Potatoes, Turkey, Green Bean Casserole, Cornbread, Sweet Potatoes, Stuffing, Pecan Pie, Apple Pie. I was highly impressed with the ability of our group to whip up some amazing food! And I was as stuffed as I would have been if I was as at Thanksgiving dinner at my house.

the spread

Next this was the last month for our time with our Homestay Families in Namaacha, our original town. Beginning the month of November we knew that very soon our group would be separated from each other and sent to work in different areas of the country.   We were all nervous on the day of the big reveal. We received envelopes with a letter inside, and we were to open them at the same time, read the letter and then move to our new site on a giant map they had drawn. Some people had already started crying at the thought of moving so far away from the people that they had gotten so close to during our training. I was nervous but excited. The idea of moving away from the others wasn’t as much on my mind as the idea of moving into the unknown. As I opened up my letter and I read I was excited to find out that I was moving to Manhica, the same town that I site visited! Not my first choice of where I wanted to go for site, but I was excited either way. I’ll get into more about Manhica later in this letter. That day I did find out that I was literarily on the opposite end of the country from all of the closest friends I had made, standing at my end of the map and looking up at the others so far away was jarring.

This month was also a month to prepare to say goodbye to our Homestay families. The people who had taken such good care of us for the last 3 months. Feed us, cared of us when we were sick, showed us how to wash clothes, iron, clean etc. My mae Cecile, I think was very proud to have, “the chiquey African American Volunteer Diana, from Northern United States aka NY” LOL as the whole town of Namaacha knew me as. The pronunciation of Dione is a little complicated here, so I have adjusted to being called Diana or Manna D. Walking through the streets of Namaacha, it felt like I would hear everyone say my name, other volunteers would ask whether I knew people I was saying hi too, and I would have no clue. But it was because my mae was talking about me. And we had to leave this place that literally was like a little bubble of protection. To end our time here we had celebration with our families. The maes cooked an amazing dinner. I and a few other Volunteers had been practicing a traditional dance of the province of Nampula, and we performed for the families. Then our maes received certificates. It was a beautiful day ironically that night a storm came in that turned Namaacha upside down, destroyed homes and messed up power and internet service in our town for a few days. Guess that was our goodbye present. :/

me and my mae

Our mark on Namaacha is no doubt the mural that we painted on the wall of the Peace Corp office there. Together we worked for three days to make this beauty happen. I am pretty impressed by how it turned out.  Big shout out to the mastermind Tania!

*mural 2

This month was also our final LPI test. This is the test that determines our language level as we start our service. This was a stressful day, as I have said before language is not my strong suit, and I came into Mozambique with 0 Portuguese language training, and 10 years without any formal language training period. Some of the Volunteers coming in had a Spanish background, which has helped them translate words. So after 3 months of practicing and language classes, my language proficiency is at an Intermediate Low. Ehhh.. I was a little disappointing. Granted I started at a Novice Low, but I was aiming for an Intermediate Mid. Actually I think I could have hit the Intermediate Mid, but I was so nervous and had so much on my mind that weekend, missing stuff back home and the holidays. Literally when I was asked questions during the language test, I couldn’t even think of the answers in English much less in Portuguese or the answers I began thinking of in English were so complicated that I didn’t have the Portuguese vocabulary to say them. Anyway, one of my main goals here is definitely becoming someone fluent in the language, and I am (ehh somewhat) happy in the progress that I have made. But a lot of what I do here is study.

Those were our last few days in Namaacaha, filled with ups and downs of emotion. A few days after all of that we departed to our sites, first to Maputo the capital city to have conferences and our swearing in ceremony. We went to the US ambassadors house, sang the Hino National of both Mozambique and the US, and swore an oath that all US Government official swear…Pretty official stuff!

*my girls

And then off to our sites. As I write this letter I am currently in my permanent site. The town of Manhica, in an Instituto de Formacao de Professores or IFP, called Chibututuine. This is a teacher training school. A gorgeous campus, in a friendly town, about an hour away from the capital city of Maputo. I will be teaching English and Methodology to students between the ages of 17 and 25.

My home is on the campus, sort of a row apartment next to other teachers and the director pedagogical of the school. My roommate is Shay, she is a volunteer who has extended another year to stay at this school.  We got along during my site visit and I am pretty sure we will get along ok during my time here. . The volunteer I am replacing has been here for 3 years, she also extended for another year. She was extremely well integrated.   And I believe the community thrived with her here. My concern of course is language. Because I am an English Teacher, I will have to talk to the students in English, and of course all of the professors want to learn English too. But I am going to make an agreement with a professor here, they tutor me in Portuguese and I will give English lessons. If anyone has ESL stuff, please feel free to send!! I will also have free internet pretty regularly so please send Skype info so I can Skype into some people.

I can’t wait to see how much further we can grow this community. My first goal is getting the school a working, clean library. There is one in place but, I especially want to bring in some different views of American Culture….Essence or Ebony Magazines please…. If you have them please send them.

Oh cultural discussions……there is a lot to say about Mozambicans view on American Culture and even Americans view on American culture. I don’t think I have ever talked about race as much as I am talking about it here. Surprisingly not as much to the Mozambicans as I am to the Americans. Mainly in conversations about when Mozambicans see groups of Americans, and my American counterparts will comment about the Mozambican reaction to seeing “white people.” Last time I checked I wasn’t white, and I am still American. It is almost as if being Black American is ignored…I have vocalized that I would prefer if we refer to our group as American and not white. So I’ve had quite a few conversations with some of my colleagues here. ON the Mozambican end, it is more of a conversation about whether I am Mozambican, and disbelief that I don’t speak Portuguese. “Yes, I am American. Yes, I was born in America. Yes, I speak English. Yes, my skin is the same color as yours. Yes, there are black people in America as well. No, we do not consider ourselves white.” I actually got my skin rubbed, to see if the color would come off. LOL. One of the goals of Peace Corps is cultural exchange. I am very happy that I am able to bring a different perspective of American culture to Mozambique and in many cases to Americans. I am appreciating the diversity that I grew up with realizing that not only are people in Mozambique not accustom to such diversity but some people in US haven’t been exposed to that diversity either. Oh the learning experiences!!!!

I am still loving it here! I am still so happy, so excited, and feeling so blessed. I got my hair done, twisted again. I was pretty happy with it, I don’t know how I am going to do the natural hair here. It is quite difficult to do anything involving my hair while taking a bucket bath!

Thank you for the support, love and packages sent. If you are interested in sending anything.. stickers for students are something I can’t seem to find that easily here.

Letter #2

5 Aug

Letter 4

November 5, 2013

It has now been over a month that I have lived in Mozambique. Now has really been the time for me to become more and more a part of the Mozambican culture. This has also included introducing Mozambique to the American culture and exploring more of the country.

To start, I was able to attend a Mozambican wedding. Where the Bride and Groom were members of my Mae’s church. This was a wedding, of course, like I had never seen before, the music, the food, everything. Everything in Mozambique has a very community communal format, so the gifts part of wedding was a display by various communities that were invited, singing and presenting gifts to the new couple while they sat. Gifts included a new couch set, pots and pans, a dresser set, and other house hold items. It was an amazing event, also took place in an incomplete building. No ceiling and no windows. Thank goodness it didn’t rain. Which brings me to another point. It is freezing cold in Mozambique, I froze my butt off during that wedding, and all of the little old ladies were giving me their capulanas trying to keep me warm. After the ceremony I was ushered up to the front where I stood there with the bride and groom while they cut the cake… LOL very awkward but I was much honored.


To continue to sharing of cultures this month we held a lunch with the Mae’s of our community. This meant that the Mae’s would cook food for our language group of traditional Mozambican dishes and we would cook an American dish for them. Our group decided to make chicken tacos and crepes. Yumm! Our Mae’s made a traditional dish of chove, a green leafy vegetable, in a coconut sauce and a chicken stew. I love chove, it is delicious and the food here is delicious as well. Of course, since we are in Mozambique, making chicken means killing chicken and guess who got to do the honors??!! LOL yup! I am now a professional chicken killer!! Two chickens’ dead, later I was on an adrenaline rush! lol After though, I did get my first bout of sickness in Mozambique, probably because killing chicken and then working with those same bloody hands without any proper way of washing them included crazy cross-contamination. Lol. But I am ok, I survived (painfully) but I survived! Our Mae’s cringed and grinned through the chicken tacos, don’t know if they liked them that much but we thought they were delicious!



Halloween also passed, one of my favorite times of the year, sooo ofcourse I thought I would be a great idea to introduce our families to our American Halloween by holding a Halloween Fair for the criancas in Namaacha. Yeah, I am already on a planning craze.. So a committee got together and planned games, face painting, put the head on the skeleton and a dance party. We gave out candy as prizes and all of the volunteers brought the criancas in their families out for it. It was great, the kids loved it and we got to celebrate Halloween and say thank you to the community that has taken us under their wing! Also, in the planning phase a few of us we able to take a trip out of Namaacha to Maputo, the capital to do some purchasing.

Although trying to find Halloween decorations in Mozambique is quite a challenge, but we made due with orange paper using our resources, Peace Corps 101! I dressed up as a Black Cat jar, which is the name of the Peanut Butter Brand here.


This month has also included a lot of travel. We were able to get in quite a few hikes, one we have called the three corners. This is because once you get to the top of the mountain you are standing where there are the borders of three countries, Swaziland, Mozambique and South Africa. That is a beautiful view.

We were also able to visit the site of one of the volunteers that works at a Teacher Training school, similar to one where I will possibly be working. Her site is in a town called Manhica, in Maputo Province. There were did a 4 hour hike to a GORGEOUS beach. On the way we got a few rides, which speaks to the beauty of the Mozambican people, in one car there are 5 of us in the trunk of a truck and a total of about 11 people in the car. We are squished in trunk and when it was time to get out we realized that the bag strap and hook of one of the volunteers was stuck in the trunk and the door would not open. We tried everything, but that door was stuck. We finally had to cut the bag, but the door would still not open. With no attitude and no rush, the lady who gave us the ride apologized a million times for the fact that we had to cut the bag. Mind you, she had given us a ride, her door was the one that the broken, getting it fixed would cost ten times more than the bag, and she was Mozambican.

During our hike we also had no clue where we were going, we had to ask along the way, the final leg of the journey we walked through a village where the mother told her children to walk with us to the beach, this group of children walked and entertained us for the entire way, few of them actually speaking Portuguese but the local language of Chengana. When we got to the beach they jumped in the water. We laid around, some of us went into the water and then after a while we were all laying on the sand. The children eventually came out of the water, put on their clothes and we watched and waved as they just walked away. That simple, no hassle, no fuss. That is this country.


You may have heard about some political unrest in Mozambique, but no worries, we haven’t been effected, except for some travel restrictions. Besides that you would never know anything was going on.

Portuguese is coming along, I have had my first few conversations with various people in Portuguese, but it is coming too slow for my tastes. I decided I need to start putting myself out there more and just speaking to more people, but it is tough. Our days are packed full of stuff and by time the night comes I am exhausted. Please send letters (I love getting them) to the Peace Corps Address I sent a while back. As for a wish list…I don’t really have one. I am not really missing anything. Hair products are a little tough to find, but besides that, Surprise me!

If anyone sees Chirstopher Ortiz, tell him I receive his letter, although it is difficult to get mail out of Mozambique I will try to get one back to him. I am also slowly responding to email. People with IPhones are doing well out here, they have internet access at their fingers, but I don’t have one nor am I planning to get one, so I have to rely on our modems which I have to buy credit for on top of my phone credit. Blah.. lol

Hope everyone is doing well over in the states. Please send life updates! Miss you all!