3 Smiles and A Struggle: Speaking ‘Well,’ Neighborly Support, Our Anniversaries, and the Frequency of Sadness


Last night I crawled into bed feeling slightly frazzled from the day. One day a week our whole group of 63 meets for training. The majority of our day yesterday was spent talking about malaria and sexual assault. While it’s extremely necessary to talk about these things, these are heavy subjects. After class I came home and our mae told me her brother-in-law died last night from “pain/ sickness in the head.” Just last night I had asked her how he was doing and she had said ‘better.’

So it was a bit of a heavy day, and I got to thinking about how many more heavy days we are going to have here in Mozambique. Some of you may remember this post from post-Kenya travels, in which I wondered how it’s possible to carry the weight of heavy stories and not have a heavy heart.

Knowing that I hold on tightly to things, knowing that people’s personal stories have the ability to affect me a lot, and knowing that life here (as anywhere) is going to be complex, I decided to start posting weekly about 3 positives and 1 struggle of being here. These might be things having to do with Peace Corps life, or they might be things having to do with Mozambique/ Mozambican life. Not only will this help me to keep sight of the positives as we witness the struggles, I hope it will help me and you sort out the complexities of life here.

Mozambique is one of the poorest countries in the world with high rates of HIV\AIDs, maternal mortality, and malaria. Education is a struggle. Healthcare is a struggle. But, just like I witnessed in Kenya, I know there will be a lot of joy here too. I hope that over time, these posts will help paint a picture of both. Enjoy 🙂

So, for this week:

First smile: Mae telling me she understands my Portuguese more this week, and that I speak ‘well.’ I was even able to make a joke with her in Portuguese the other night about something happening on TV.

Second smile: Mae bringing food to a neighbor who just had a baby, but cannot afford much food for herself or her 4-year-old son.

Third smile: Getting to celebrate 2 years of marriage and 10 years of togetherness with Alex. Sitting out on the patio of a nice restaurant to watch the sunset, and receiving many ‘Parabens’ (congratulations) from PC staff and neighbors.

Struggle: The frequency with which we witness/hear about super sad things here. Coming home from Maputo on Saturday the chapa (small van-bus) I was in hit a small child that ran out in the street. It was pretty much the worst feeling ever. Mae said it happens often here because kids don’t know to stay out of the street and drivers don’t ‘respect’ kids. This child got up and was crying and was immediately taken to the hospital. A couple days later one volunteer’s host sister (that she had never met) died of tuberculosis. That same day, our neighbor had to go to Maputo to have her baby because she was facing complications. She left so quickly that her 4-year-old son was left here pretty much alone, under the care of a grandmother who mae said ‘is not right in the head.’ And then mae’s brother-in-law died. I am wondering when a day will pass here that we won’t hear about or witness this kind of sadness. And, as is the point of these posts, I am trying to make sure I see all the good here too!

Celebrating our anniversaries.

Celebrating our anniversaries.



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