Morganne traveled to Mozambique and helped teach children about proper handwashing. She also helped dig latrines for the village.
Donors Visit the Children of Mozambique
Read a First-hand Account of a Youth Volunteer’s Global Service Trip
Day One: Hi! My name is Morganne and I'm 14 years old. I have come on this trip with my mom. We found out about this trip in one of Save the Children's newsletters that we get, because my younger sister sponsors a child in Appalachia.
After a long drive from Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, we finally arrived at the village, which is called, Nhancutse (pronounced Neonkootsey), about half an hour out from a city called Xai Xai. First thing we saw: tons and tons and tons of kids running at us and waving, soooo excited and sooooo cute! None of us were expecting such a huge welcome! We were seated in the front row and watched a wonderful performance by some of the kids. They were so adorable, up on the stage singing, even in English! A song about the ABCs and one called "We are happy to be together," which is still stuck in my head. After that, some of the adults did a traditional song and dance for us, which was amazing!
One of the coolest things about the day was that the kids were all dying to shake hands with us. They were literally trampling each other to get a chance to touch our hands over and over again. That goes to show you how rare it is for them to have visitors in the village, especially ones who look so different from them. The kids were so cute, running after the bus every time we got in it!
We got a tour of the village, and one of the most interesting things was the market. There was a stall that sells food, one that sells clothes and one that sells (very few) fruits. On one stand, there were hair extensions hanging everywhere and cell phone covers as well, even though the average person makes $1 a day, and the people at the market can make up to $10. We found out that the people who can afford to shop in the markets are the families whose fathers work in mines in South Africa.
We got a tour of the village, and one of the most interesting things was the market. There was a stall that sells food, one that sells clothes and one that sells (very few) fruits. On one stand, there were hair extensions hanging everywhere and cell phone covers as well, even though the average person makes $1 a day, and the people at the market can make up to $10!! We found out that the people who can afford to shop in the markets are the family’s whose fathers have gone to work in mines in South Africa.
Day Two: When we first got to the school the kids swarmed around us just like they did yesterday. We tried to give them balloons to play with, but only too late did we realize what a mess we made. They went bananas over them and the older kids started running away with them! Total chaos, just like any other group of kids would have been around soap bubbles, wanting to be the ones to pop them.
After that, we moved on to the main activity of our day, digging latrines!!!! It was just like in the book Holes. At the end, even the tall men were so deep in the holes you couldn't even see the top of their heads! The first hole that we helped with was the hardest to dig. When we started a new hole, which I was working on, it was a lot easier.
All of the little kids were crowding around us, thinking how strange it was for foreign women to dig toilets. At first, everyone was looking at us strangely, because digging is not traditionally a woman's job. Eventually, the women from the community joined us to show us that they were also strong. Digging is harder than it looks, and in a hole almost as tall as you. We were told that we had provided everyone with good entertainment, even though we all baked under the hot sun. In the afternoon, we helped the women of the community make some food: tomato jam and sweet potato juice and other things. It really sounded strange at first, but tasted better than expected.
At the end of the day, I was exhausted. I didn't even have any dinner, went straight up to the room to rest after such a tiring day.
Day Three: I have learned a lot today about the translators that help us communicate with the people in the village. Most of them haven’t gone to university to study English, but their language skills are very good. The translators also teach English at primary and private schools in the area.
During the bus ride, we talked about Mozambican holidays. Apparently, there is a women’s day in Mozambique. We asked if the women still had to cook on that day, and their answer was simply “yes.” We then asked what the point of women’s day was if the women still had to do all of the chores. They told us that it was a celebration of the first woman who died fighting the Portuguese (for independence from colonial rule).
After lunch, we started working on our presentations for the health fair in Nhancutse on Friday. We split up into 3 groups, with about 10 kids in each group. My group was working on teaching the kids about the importance of hand hygiene, though they already seem to know a lot! Our presentation is going to be made up of 3 short skits where each child has a part and we’ll also sing a song to the tune of “the wheels on the bus go round and round…”
Day Four: Today we went to another school and planted trees there as well. We went to visit an “open air museum.” It was a museum dedicated to Dr. Mondlane, a man who helped liberate Mozambique from the Portuguese colonial government. When he was young, he was taken under the wing of a Swiss missionary, who helped send him to university in the United States. He eventually became a sociology professor and married another sociology professor. They moved back to Mozambique, where Dr. Mondlane founded the Frelimo party, whose goal was to free Mozambique. He was assassinated a few years before the independence of Mozambique.
We had lunch with the kids that were in our group for the health fair. They were so small, and they ate every single thing on their plate. (I couldn’t!) It was very interesting for me to see that all of the kids had a lot of trouble using utensils. Perhaps they just don’t have any in their village. We didn’t have translators at every table so we mainly compared words for table, plate, glass…
Before we had dinner, we went to see a cultural show, in which there were different types of traditional Mozambican dances and music. The dancers were amazing; they were so light-footed! I really enjoyed it.
Day Five: We dressed up for our day and put on traditional skirts, like the women wear in town. Basically, it is a batik-printed cloth that you wrap around you until it fits.
Our first stop was the local health clinic. There were two buildings, one was a maternity ward and the other was a general clinic. There were a lot of women and children waiting outside of both. We didn’t go into the buildings because that would have been a little strange for everyone and we didn’t want them to think that we were just at the clinic to take pictures. We spoke with two of the health workers. Apparently, there are only 4 health workers in whole health post! They told us that the closest hospital is 30 miles away and if someone is very sick, there is only one ambulance in the region so sometimes patients have to find their own way to the hospital. We never saw any cars in the village, so it must be really hard to get to the hospital if you are sick. The workers said that they saw a couple of hundred patients a day and that they don’t always have enough medicine to treat them.
These women must be very strong to work in the clinic every day.
Afterwards, we went back to Nhancuste to practice our songs and skits for the health fair. When it was time for the health fair, we performed with the children. There were about a hundred smaller kids and many parents there to watch. The children in the village like to perform and they were all smiling and having fun. At the end of the performances, some of the mothers got up and performed some traditional dances. Some were young and some were old, but they all had a lot of energy and could sing really well. The head of the village then thanked us for coming and we presented him with soccer balls, games and puzzles for the school. Then after taking lots of pictures, we said goodbye to everyone and left on the bus to go back to Maputo.
The bus ride seemed long, but I think it was because everyone was a little sad to leave. We stopped along the way at a roadside stand to buy some fruit. I ate two little bananas. They were the best bananas I have ever eaten!
Day Six: Today we left Mozambique. We said goodbye to all of our new friends. I am really lucky that I got to go on this trip and got to meet and spend time with so many interesting women.
Join Us in Sponsorship
Morganne’s service trip had a lasting impact. After returning home, she decided to continue helping by becoming a child sponsor. She is now enjoying the life-changing joy of getting to know her sponsored child. Learn more about sponsorship.
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