Hello REDES followers,
We are just a little bit behind on gathering photos and reflections from our TOT’s but after meeting with representatives from each conference this past weekend it sounds like great things will come out of each and every regional meeting. Instead what we have today is another story from the very first REDES national conference. This one has a few twists and turns, but I promise a happy ending. This post comes to us from RPCV Heather Jordan, who currently works in another Portuguese speaking African country, Angola. Heather works for World Vision, which is described on its website as: “… a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice.
Working in nearly 100 countries around the world, World Vision serves all people, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender.”
Here is Heather’s story of the journey for her REDES group to the first REDES conference:
I took three girls from Nampula Province, Emília, Arcélia and Ilda, to the first REDES conference in Inhambane in 2005. It was a really big deal for the girls to travel so far from their families and it was a daunting task for me to be so responsible for my students. I had to convince Ilda´s father that there would be no boys at the conference before he allowed her to come. The girls were excited about every aspect of the trip, from their first plane ride to the opportunity of seeing Inhambane Province.
The Nampula Delegation´s journey had a dramatic start when we arrived at the airport and there was no electricity. Of course, I should have been known better, but I had only reserved our tickets and had planned on purchasing them with my debit card the day of the trip. No electricity meant no credit card machine. The airline company was completely unsympathetic. Emília´s family had come to the airport to send her off. I looked back at them in panic – how could I tell them we wouldn´t be able to go because I had been overly confident in the electricity grid? A South African businessman saw me frantically pacing the airport floor and asked me what was going on. I explained that I was a teacher taking three students to an empowerment conference and I couldn´t purchase the tickets because the electricity was out. He apologized that he was unable to help because he was flying all the way to Maputo and we were getting off in Beira. But twenty minutes before the flight closed he came back to me and asked, “How much do you need?” I needed 200 dollars, in cash, to be able to buy our tickets. He opened his wallet and counted out the money. He even asked if I needed more. I couldn´t help it, I burst into tears of gratitude and said I would pay him back, over and over. “I know you will,” he said, “but I think you need to get your girls on the plane – they´re already boarding.” I purchased the tickets, checked in and the four of us ran down the runway to the plane. We were the very last to board. When I met up with this man about a month later in Maputo, I paid him back the money and gave him a REDES t-shirt that the REDES organizers had wanted to give him. I asked him how he could give so much moeny to a complete stranger? He explained that he just wanted to be supportive of a teacher and her students trying to do something positive. I will always remember this man as an inspiration in generosity.
The rest of the trip and the conference were amazing. The girls were a little nervous once the plane took flight – there was some motion sickness, there was later some home sickness too. In Beira we caught the bus to Chimoio and met up with the rest of the group. The next day we all took a bus to Inhambane to meet up with the group from Southern Mozambique. On the last day of the conference, I watched all the girls say goodbye to the new friends they had made and I hoped that they would remember the experience being as beautiful as I will always remember it being.
Thank you for contacting us Heather, and please any RPCV’s (or PCV’s) who have stories they want to share you can email Andrew Garland at Agarland@elon.edu with stories or pictures.