Food security, deforestation and climate change all directly impact our local communities. So when Gustavo, Nema's GM, suggested a cashew planting project, we jumped on it. Fast forward a few months and the Nema Team have now planted 3,500 cashew trees in schools, homes and "mashambas" throughout the communities we partner with. So far, the seedlings are doing well. Watch this space for progress...
Three women gave birth on the way to the clinic this month. Thankfully all survived and are doing well, but others haven't been so lucky.
After a tremendous amount of work both fundraising and importing the bikes by the Nema team, two motorbike ambulances have just arrived in Guludo.
"Matafome" translates as "kill the hunger" and this is what the children chanted the very first day we (Nema Foundation) started the school meals project in Guludo school. The name stuck and now the project is affectionately called Matafome and reaches almost 1,000 children in our area, every school day.
"A baby girl died today." Founder of JoJo Maman Bebe, Laura Tenison, is in Guludo at the moment and writes a heartbreaking, yet inspiring, blog about child mortality and how important Nema's work is. Laura and the JoJo team work tirelessly to help our sister charity, Nema, develop and expand our mission to relieve poverty in this part of the world.
I have seen a lot of bad “gender equality” projects, especially in Afghanistan where the culture is not ready for certain projects and it can be more detrimental to empowerment to force it on a culture not ready for women’s rights than it can be to try to do “gender-based” projects by well-meaning but misguided amateurs.
The underlying principle of development being Do no Harm, we at Nema try to do all of our projects in slow and understated but effective way.
A few weeks ago at the Bilibeza agricultural school graduation I was approached by a teacher, Bashir, from the school who wanted to collaborate on some projects with Nema. He is quite an inspiration. He has been trained in various countries to do some fantastic environmental and agricultural projects and now lives in Bilibeza, teaching one day a week and running a local NGO, solely peopled by Mozambicans, with an agricultural speciality. At his house I met his wife, an expert in organic pesticides, and saw her prepare a meal of lovely looking tomatoes and other vegetables from their garden. Outside their house, shared with others is a cord pump well, installed by Bashir that is the easiest pump I’ve used since I’ve been here.
After signing an MoU last week we have started working together as partners in earnest, it’s great for me to be able to step back and hand over to a Mozambican, much more positive than a white face giving stuff out all of the time. One of our collaboration is a small cooperative for women to make soap.
After numerous meetings with the village chefe in Ningaia to ask his permission to undertake a project for the ladies, we are now well underway with a soap making project that will give some of the ladies that little bit of income and identity that will make their lives better, but not disproportionately better than anyone else therefore not creating too much resentment.
We asked the Chefe de Ningaia to choose 10 ladies from his village who he thought would be interested in the micro-enterprise we wanted to set up and to choose from those who had the most suffering or largest families to support alone.
There are no Geldof-style Band Aid pictures from this part of Mozambique but I was here in this village measuring kids a few weeks ago and all of them are stunted in their growth; the lack of good and varied nutrition means that not only physical but also mental growth is seriously compromised by the monotonous diet that is affordable for most families. A small income to buy tomatoes and bananas for the family will make a difference to lives that is tangible and important but still a baby step and not out of line with other people in the community.
10 ladies turned up at our training session; of varying ages they all warily entered the house of the adjutant of Ningaia and shyly sat down but after some training they possessed a certain degree of confidence once together in the group which was amazing to see and they were able to have fun whilst learning, what could be better?
Using jatropha oil and caustic soda we made soap to sell and soap for their families. Our new uber‑partner Bashir is great with people and the ladies really responded to his teaching. They were laughing freely and conversing with Bashir and Nema workers Manuel and Assane which was awesome to watch.
The soap has a medical quality that helps with the skin complaints that the children get on their heads here.
The Nema staff were also excited as they described an infection sounding a lot like athlete’s foot that is common here especially during the rainy season and that this soap can help cure.
After the first demonstration the ladies set off on making a batch on their own, even calculating the new amounts to make a bigger batch, given the state of mental arithmetic here (drives me nuts that 40x10 needs to be done on a calculator) it was really good to hear them multiplying numbers. I disappeared for 10 minutes to meet someone and came back to the third batch as everyone wanted to try to make their own.
The ladies were so engaged that the question and answer session at the end involved them all clamouring to answer the questions, they even started making budgets and plans for the future.
After electing Laura as their chef they sang a song for the health of my children (and by default I’m assuming the health of all of our donor’s children). So cute, I watched the video again and again that night, made me so proud of them and hopeful for their future.
Of course that’s not the end of our involvement with these ladies, but it is the beginning of the end: all good projects have an end. Whilst we covered the small cost of the initial investment, the ladies are now their own company and they can make their own decisions. Manuel will visit them every week, he only lives a few houses away so that will be easy enough, and he wants to be their second customer (I am the first). But the rate of production, continuation of the project and ongoing costs are for the group to consider as a group. Whilst we will maintain good contact with these ladies, if for no other reason than I like them, our support will now be for training and help with resupply runs but not financial.
We’re hoping that this is the start of a series of small local projects for people to make their lives a bit better. We’ve already got our orphans making stuff to sell and now our Ningaia soap, next stop an oven for the ladies of Naunde.
“Working not begging” is a phrase I really admire from Big Issue founder John Bird, it has an air of dignity about it, and self-help with a little bit of ‘you can help me to help myself’ added in.
That’s what we’re trying to do here at Nema - help people help themselves. Sometimes that’s hard here as there are so few opportunities, but we are trying to generate some and this is the first step.
We have over 200 orphans in our project just in Naunde and we have yet to reach those vulnerable children and their families in the other villages in which we work, but one step at a time: ;if there’s one thing you learn from working in Africa it’s patience.
We have been gradually trying to create opportunities for the orphans and vulnerable children to earn a living. However, whilst items have been made for the Nema shop and the lodge this is a limited market. Trying to reach further and wider we approached some shops in Pemba town and found an English lady who has a shop in the Pemba Beach Hotel, the most expensive hotel in town. She suggested that there really isn’t much of a market for tourist stuff with the oil and gas industry currently dominating hotel bookings but there are lots of hotels being built to cater for the oil wealth and that we could use her contacts to sell stuff for the rooms in the hotels.
Obviously a certain level of quality is required to sell to a hotel so we set about creating a demonstration model yesterday. Calling the older kids to make stuff, the younger kids, desperate to join in, fetched all of the material from the bush. Most of the time the material was bigger and heavier than the kids themselves but these are hardy kids.
Whilst Amina and Rema prepared a lunch of rice and beans for the kids (we used left over food from the food we give to the staff each month keeping costs right down), Manuel started preparing the demonstration models. First off a waste paper bin. Second a tray (my Kimwani is poor but I know this is kikombe as I have my tea in a giant bowl that they call kikombe).
Manuel seemed to enjoy the work and set about making the items with imagination and a smile on his face. Demonstration models made he allocated a shape and a size to each of the kids for us to make a range of pieces to take to Pemba to show to Lesley and the hotels. We made bins, boxes and trays. We’re going to line them with pretty material and see what they look like with some colour and then take them to town to see how it goes.
We can pay enough money to the children who made the items to make a difference to their lives this week. If we market the items right we can create a longer term income generating project for the children here. With the right labelling and a bit of marketing we can enable a sustainable long term income that’s just enough to make a difference to the lives of the most deprived of our communities, maybe even enough to allow some of them to go to school: we live in hope.
Working not begging.
By Lisa Rose, Nema Foundation
Over the last 5 years we've been working closely with Global Angels who support Nema's work in our local communities. Like it's founder, Molly Bedingfield, the charity oozes integrity and has provided a lifeline to vulnerable communities around the globe.
On Friday, Global Angels had their inaugural "Angel Awards" followed by "Angels in Concert". Guludo and Nema's co-founder, Amy, was there and collected a stunning Swarovski award for Best Charity Partner on behalf of Nema - a very deep honour.
After the Awards was an auction and the final, star item was a trip to Guludo and Kenya with Molly to come and see some of Nema's projects. The prize was so popular it was sold twice, raising £13,000 for Global Angels. We simply can't wait to welcome Molly and her (4!) guests to Guludo next year!
The concert was simply spectacular. Natasha Bedingfield (Molly's daughter) brought along some of her friends; Leona Lewis, Joss Stone & John Forte (from the legendary Fugees) and together with her big brother (Daniel!) put on a show that showcased some of the best of British & American talent out there. The perfect celebration for a phenomenal charity.
For more information please go to www.globalangels.org.
The Guludo team really have outdone themselves! Last year Caitlin, Angus, Harry and Assane started working with local tailors to produce bags that could be sold to Guludo guests and both provide livelihoods for local tailors and provide an income for Nema Foundation.