Hello REDES members, facilitators, supporters and those curious about REDES in general. Many REDES groups are commencing meetings and planning activities as we speak and the TOT(training of Trainers) for REDES counterparts and facilitators is a little more than a week away. However before we start posting stories, testimonials and pictures from meetings, trocas and the TOT conferences,
we at the blog thought it would be interesting to look back at the history of REDES. Over the next couple weeks we will post stories and pics from past REDES facilitators who have had time to reflect on their experiences in Mozambique and with REDES. Enjoy the first reflection from an RPCV (Erica Heiman) who participated in the very first REDES national conference. Enjoy:
“My first memories of REDES were whispers among a few of us in Moz 6 and 7 who’d heard of girls conferences run by other Peace Corps programs. We knew a girls conference in Mozambique was possible, and it was just a matter of some of us finding the time to outline our objectives, plan the logistics, and write the grant. It seemed a bit daunting, but we also knew it could be great. So one weekend, the six of us barricaded ourselves in my house in Vilankulo and did nothing but plan. It was hard work, but it was also inspiring: every idea we came up with– Could we fly in girls from Nampula? Could we get a big-name speaker like Graca Machel? — created visions within our minds, as we realized that our ideas could actually become reality within a few short months. The budgeting was the hardest part: we found ourselves in “PCV mode”, using the cheapest options we could think of in order to keep our budget as low as possible. At the end of the weekend, we weren’t sure how it would all play out, but we had a pretty good sense that we were on the right track.
A few months later, I got a call from the Public Affairs section at the U.S. Embassy. They wanted to fund our project! But rather than give us the $6,000 we’d asked for in our budget, they wanted to give us $20,000! Wow. We were ecstatic, but also a little intimidated. Peace Corps volunteers aren’t used to thinking on that scale. But we again put our heads together and allowed our “wish list” ideas to actually enter the plans we’d put on paper.
When the conference finally arrived, there were some frantic last-minute panics about the bathrooms in the girls’ cabins and the spotty electricity. But in the morning, when the conference started and I saw girls from all over the country raising their hands to have their voices heard, standing and speaking eloquently without any of the eyes-diverted-submissiveness that so many women in Mozambique are encouraged to adopt, I knew this was a great thing we had started.”
Thank you very much Erica, for your reflection and your service! If you have a similar story or experience please email Andrew Garland at Agarland@elon.edu with your ideas, reflections and pics. See you next time.