Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Blooming Africa

Today we (the group of Aalto University students blooming (ayy.fi/bloom) in Africa) spent our first day in the slum in Chamanculo. What a ride!

Our hostel, The Base, is located in Maputo about 7km away from Chamanculo. To get there we take the chapa, which is a small bus. The ride costs 7 meticals, which is about 20 cents in euros. The chapa ride itself is quite an experience with all the people and the quite hectic traffic. The drivers also tune the audio systems of their cars and make it well heard if they have a brand new stereo. Thankfully the music is really good, soul and stuff. I would recommend chapas to anybody traveling in Africa as they are cheap and a good way to get a little taste of living in urban Africa.

First day in Chamanculo

On the streets there is much trash as the public waste management is almost non-existant. Besides trash, guards, car-washers and salesmen are seen from the chapa window constantly. You can buy almost anything off the street. Today we have bought an extension cord in addition to the usual fruits and vegetables. Mangos are currently in season :)

I didn't really know what to expect of the slum we we're headed to. I had heard many warnings about violence, thievery and such in Africa and we had felt unsafe in some places during our trip. The slum Chamanculo felt strangely safe from the moment we entered it. Mostly this is because of the children. The cutest little things smile when they see you and if you have a camera they demand that you take a picture of them. Adorable! Ironically it seems that its safer to hold a camera out in the slum than on the streets of the city. 

We walked through the slum, encountering nothing but happy and positive reactions, to the base of ASSCODECHA - the NGO we are working with. This is the place where all our activities in Chamanculo take place. Today we had the first lessons in computer skills and English. In addition we played some Mölkky and ultimate and started filming a short movie in which the local people play the roles.

Children asking us to take pictures of them
Meeting with ASSCODECHA

Regarding sanitation there is a lot to be done - this we knew in advance. We talked with a worker of ASSCODECHA who has been working with sanitation in the area since 2001. We also had a look at the newly built sanitation blocks. Tomorrow we will go have a look at some homes and have a closer look at the living conditions in the slum. 

Coming to Mozambique certainly was a cultural shock, but man this place is awesome. One day down and feeling good!

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