Yesterday I heard the following joke:
He sends us ice.
Next he will send us whiskey.
In Mozambique people sometimes send jokes around by text message. This one came after an enormous hailstorm. Many of them the size of marbles. You can imagine the sound on these African tin roofs, it really makes an incredible noise. It’s rare to see such a hailstorm in the tropics, some people were saying it was almost 12-15 years ago since the last one.
Now reread the joke, and you’ll get it, if you hadn’t yet.
I must say though, this is about as close as I got as learning something about Mozambique. I’ve listened to stories in the training and conversations with other NGO workers, but to be honest when you go from a hotel back and forth in a taxi to the venue where you are training for about 5 days, eat in the restaurants that the expats go to, you don’t really get a proper impression of a country. Moreover the newspapers are in Portuguese and I don’t get further then ‘boa tarde’, so a proper taxi driver conversation as I always like is more or less out of the question (save those wanting to practice their broken English – one texting ‘I’m autsite’).
In my training I also felt quite challenged. My translators were excellent (I only got really confused when my male interpreter was saying that ‘a male devours the woman’ – I’m still not really sure what this meant) but it gets a lot more complicated to get reactions of people when you have somebody in between all your questions and you cannot directly address them. Moreover, what I’ve understood from other NGO people here, is that capacity of people is really low, although it is an absolute donor darling. Post conflict, poor, no industry to speak of and a fast growing young population. It was hard for me to assess what kind of capacity I was dealing with, and that resulted first in a lot of self-doubt and critical thinking around my training methodologies used. In addition my counterpart was so silent and hardly responded to any of my queries. I truly felt a bit at loss and wondered what I was doing was actually making much sense to the people in the room.
So when I was asked today for a meeting with the director with the other counterparts I was slightly nervous on what to say, when they would ask me, what I thought the results of the training were. This meeting proved to be another lesson learned. The director gave a perfect overview of what I kind of suspected, but clearly couldn’t understand as I just didn’t know enough of the background of civil society here – and just had experienced an inability to communicate and ask questions. I will spare you the details, but what struck me most was her conviction that it was time for new blood that should take the lead and she really wanted to do this by involving a number of young women that were in the training in the follow up activities that are necessary. She ended by concluding, who knows, six months from now we will be surprised about how much we will have achieved by working with these young women, we just need to give them the opportunity.
It gave me the idea that the training actually has provided some ice, and that the women themselves will be able to make the whiskey. Maybe not immediately, but they will get there – as we all know, malt whiskey takes many years to ripen, but then it is of excellent taste and it will surely be sooner than to wait for a divine intervention (for the simple reason that in the Netherlands we see hail a lot more often, but to my knowledge it has never been followed by a whiskey shower).