The writer Ernest Hemingway once said, “I never knew of a morning in Africa when I woke up and was not happy”.
That is exactly how I felt on my most recent trip to Mozambique. I travelled back to this beautiful country just over a month ago to visit my friend, Barbara Karoline Hofmann, the founder of Association Pour Les Enfants de Mozambique (ASEM), a charitable organisation founded in 1991 to help marginalised children and youth in the country. You can read a little more about Barbara and her wonderful initiative in one of my previous blogs, here.
While I’d visited her once before in Mozambique, I’d never actually toured her children’s centre, MAJIANZA, that she runs in Vilanculos and I wanted to take my family there to show them the incredible work she does. Walking through the beautiful countryside and drinking in the views of an azure coastline, I fell in love with Mozambique all over again, and – after viewing the MAJIANZA centre – I was also inspired to do more to help Barbara with her important charity work.
MAJIANZA really does incredible work for the children in its care. While Barbara is not able to register the space officially as a school –due to red tape and bureaucratic challenges – she does employ a couple of people that assist with basic education, including teaching numbers, the alphabet and art. At the moment the centre operates without electricity, so the kids are taught only during the day hours and entertained with one acoustic guitar, and other indoor and outdoor activities that feature elementary playing and learning materials. There is no running water but, fortunately, Vilanculos is blessed with natural lakes which means that water can be collected, cleaned and cooled for consumption.
Lakes also mean fish. Because Barbara has to raise money herself to provide for the centre, fish caught in the nearby lakes is sold, with the cash made being put straight back in to the organisation. The property’s resident chickens – and sometimes the eggs they lay – are also sold to raise funds.
While the centre and its facilities are basic, like Mozambique itself, the space boasts enormous potential. This is one of the reasons why my family and I have decided to spend more time helping Barbara generate awareness around her centre and, hopefully, contributing to its infrastructure and development moving forward so that it becomes self-sustaining. Situated a mere 45-minute boat ride away from the luxury holiday islands of Bazaruto, with the right support and vision I believe we will be able to draw tourists to the centre, bringing much-needed attention and support to it and – hopefully – a brighter future for the kids living there.
I am also talking to individuals and companies to bring electricity and running water, secure the property with fence, install the doors and the windows, donate to the center all the needed materiale as: art supplies, musical instruments, provide them with all the necessary to create a space in which events, classes and workshops can be held – think traditional dance or art classes for tourists coming from the Bazaruto islands – or build a sports camp for the local community. The long-term goal is to bring people in to see the great work that Barbara is doing, and to assist her with regards to finding innovative ways to finance the centre holistically and organically. The centre needs to remain open in order to continue being a beacon of hope, and to encourage the local community to become self-sustaining in to the future.
I am not collecting money for MAJIANZA Center, but I am reaching out to ask people for physical donations (in you wish to know more about how can you help please send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Barbara directly at: email@example.com).
Be kind to one another.