Monday, December 7, 2009

Strong, Steady, Radiant Women and Girls of Mozambique!

Though their lives are often precarious and full of hard physical work, we encountered joy as well in getting to know some strong, beautiful women (young and old) in rural villages in Mozambique. Women and girls here have a difficult life with little access to schooling, medical care, and basic needs we take for granted like electricity, running water, indoor plumbing, you name it—but those we met managed to welcome us with open arms, cook amazingly tasty vegetarian meals with food they harvested from their machambas (garden plots) in the early wee morning hours after an hour walk from their homes.

They also maintained spotless yards swept clean of leaves, insects, animal waste, and other debris, nursed babies while walking and reading, cooked over hot outdoor fires in wilting heat and humidity, hauled heavy water on their heads from nearby pumps, and often managed to still look radiant in colorful capulanas (traditional wrap around skirts) at the end of the hard long workday. To be fair, we saw the very human side of such misery but the women we met were strong, solid providers struggling against difficult odds, as women do all over the world.

In the middle of a heavy daily routine to maintain their households, many women still managed to visit the inauguration of the mobile lending library, as photos on our webpage will attest (see the slide show on the home page). They danced to welcome us, laughed heartily at the story we read aloud, joined in enthusiastically to tell the story, and struggled to sound out words in books to read to themselves, to their children, and to their women friends. Though initially the project was about getting children excited about reading, we realize that it is just as important to reach mothers and fathers and provide them with opportunities to improve, and fall in love with, reading. Not only can it change their lives through self-education but it can help ensure that they value, and encourage, the same skill for their own children.

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