In August I am travelling to Mozambique in southern Africa to take part in a Community Development programme. I will be staying there with a local family for six weeks in order to carry out my very important work. I am going over with a non-profit organisation called Frontier and joining other volunteers. The aim of this project is to improve the lives and prospects of the local people, especially the children.
As well as providing a home for an incredible range of exotic wildlife, Mozambique's cultural heritage is an incredible amalgamation of Portuguese, Asian and indigenous origins and traditions. However, Mozambique's tumultuous past has resulted in social and economic problems, and many of its more deprived citizens have suffered as a result. The civil war of the 1980's resulted in the closure or destruction of over 5,700 primary schools, meaning that the precious resource of education is in short supply- today only 30% of children are in school. The Mozambican Civil War began in 1975 following the war of independence. Tragically, over 900,000 citizens died in the fighting, and the war itself has left a terrible legacy- along with the schools, thousands of community centres and hospitals were wiped out in the conflict.
Since 1992 the country has been at peace, however problems relating to the aftermath of the war, coupled with the effect of two significant cyclones , have created a situation where international aid is needed to restore the country to a state of economic stability and growth.
Education is the key to restoring hope to this very special country. Poor children there are in general less likely to be enrolled in school because they often need to work to survive, cannot afford school costs or live far away from the nearest school. Children orphaned and made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS are particularly at risk of missing out on even a basic education.
The Project I will be taking part in integrates several elements that combine to form a cohesive and well constructed strategy for enhancing development there. I will be working in an orphanage, where children who have lost their parents, often through the AIDS epidemic, can be cared for and provided with an education. I hope I will help to inspire them and give them hope for a brighter future. Other aspects of the programme include promoting traditional practical skills amongst the children, such as rug making and clay pot decoration, thereby ensuring that the wonderful cultural heritage of this magical country is communicated to the next generations. I will also be helping the locals with odd construction and farming jobs like weaving fences and building new homes.