Lucia’s point of view

Morning dawns in Mangunde

He boarding school alarm bell rings at 4:50 am. Today, I am going back to Beira to stamp my passport. So, I had to get up early and it was the first time I heard it.

Here, school starts at 6:50, but, first, the kids have to do their tasks. The first thing I hear when I wake up is the sand being swept up. They do it with brooms made by themselves with sticks tied with tiny wools. They have a curious way of stooping: they bend a lot and very straightly, and they do everything in this position: sweeping, collecting, cooking, scrubbing, plowing.

It seems strange that they sweep up the sand but, actually, it is not, since there are almost no bins here and they throw everything on the ground. I try to tell them not to do it so they will not have to sweep so much but they don’t understand.

It is difficult to make them understand some things they have always been doing differently. Like for all the people of the world.

For the first part of the trip, Zadoque drives me through sand roads to “the cruzamento”. At this time and along these roads, the boiled water with soluble coffee and powdered milk that I have here for breakfast turns my stomach. Sometimes, I do miss Spain.

Zadoque tells me that he lives in Mangunde because for him, who still has no studies, it is not possible to live in Beira. A few years ago, he tried, but the rent and bills made it impossible. Now he works here as a transporter while studying geography at a distance. He hopes to be able to work as a teacher in the future and thus have more opportunities.

Along the way, he asks me how old children start school in Spain. He wants to know the differences to understand why education here is worse.

For the second part of the trip, another association car picks me up and along the way we stop at a resettlement. Some people who had to leave their homes due to conflicts in the area live here now. The association is going to start working here too and they have to interview some families.

It is a huge piece of land filled with hundreds and hundreds of adobe shacks. Lots of families live here, they farm what they can or do other little botched jobs to survive. If it weren’t for the help that comes from outside, many would not be able to eat. There are still many who cannot do it every day. There is no running water or wells here. They have to dig holes in the sand and collect the little water that comes out. When it rains, like these days, the holes fill with dirty water and they cannot drink or wash.

The future is uncertain for all these people, and yet they still prefer to stay here than go back to where they came from.

Today I read on a poster: “Viver é um sacrifício”. And for some people, of course it does.

Written by: Lucía García-Iturri