Active citizenship – Meet the people
Community Organizer – Jose Manuel
Jose Manuel has been involved with MICAIA since we first started work back in 2008. He is a Community Facilitator living in Mukwawayo, part of the Mpunga community. Jose Manuel tells the story of MICAIA’s engagement with Mpunga over the years.
When MICAIA first came to Mpunga the people were suspicious. We have had many NGOs come and go, heard many stories and promises, but most of the time nothing happened. MICAIA’s people were different. They listened to us and wanted to know our stories, our history. They worked with us to raise money to build NDZOU Camp, the eco-lodge in Moribane Forest. The community is very proud of that; no other community has such a business, and we own it. But NDZOU Camp is only one project. Working with MICAIA over the years we have done so much. Our Association (Associacao Kubatana Moribane) was registered at national level and we have had lots of support and training to help us run the Association properly. MICAIA has brought community leaders together from across the forest areas to plan how best to manage our forest resources. Through MICAIA we have met Government Ministers visiting NDZOU Camp, and we’ve travelled to many events even in Maputo. We’ve done other projects too: learning about seed collection and storage, building a seed store and setting up a forest plants nursery. Last year MICAIA introduced the idea of using beehives as a fence to protect our farms from elephants! Some people, even the Chief, were very sceptical. I tried it and the fence worked! Now all the people want the beehive fence, especially the Chief. Really, MICAIA is part of Mpunga. Projects still come and go, but MICAIA stays, always trying to find ways to help us, and always introducing new ideas.
‘Chinho’ – Member of the Committee of Youth Bank Chimoio
Juvenal Raposo, mostly known as Chinho, is 30 years old, married with children. He left school early on to sustain his family. The arts, particularly music, have always been central to his life. Unlike many musicians of his generation, Chinho always used music to convey his feelings and therefore, he has been writing and singing his own songs for many years.
Chinho explains, When YouthBank Chimoio (YBC) first announced that it needed young volunteers to become members of the YBC Committee and work with MICAIA to manage YBC grant funds for Chimoio youth, I was really excited. I think I was the first to volunteer! We had an amazing training led by Vernon [YouthBank International’s Director], and then we got started trying to promote YouthBank Chimoio.
Chinho became one of the most active and motivated committee members, going out of his way to help find more effective ways to engage young people, and sharing his music with colleagues during work and training sessions. Chinho continues to look for spaces to engage with young and old alike in Chimoio, singing about YBC and its critical role, bringing in contemporary issues that affect Chimoio – local culture and history, the environment as well as development issues, all find their way into Chinho’s music. The last word is Chinho’s. My ambition? Ensuring that Chimoio becomes known once again as a beautiful, friendly and prosperous city, with young people at its heart.
Helder – using YBC grant to transform the lives of orphans
At 26, Helder, the eldest of 5 orphan siblings who lost their parents to HIV/AIDS, is the leader of an association of 15 young orphans aged between 18 and 24. He was an adolescent when his parents died and proudly tells the story of how he worked to put his young brothers and sisters through school, and how one of them is today an English teacher and the other an accountant. Helder is now married with 3 children and is always looking out for other orphans and extremely poor families in his neighbourhood, inviting them to eat with his family as he works to enable them to get sustained support from the social services.
When I heard about the YouthBank Chimoio (YBC) initiative, says Helder, I gathered a group of 14 young friends and we formed an association (named “Pensai nas Criancas” meaning “Think about the Children”) and decided to start an urban farm development project to produce food crops to eat and also to sell. With the help of the local leader, we identified two small farms and with our YBC grant we bought tools and seeds so we could get started. We needed to improve our farming techniques to improve production and productivity and so we brought in the help of government extension services. The association will use the proceeds from this farming enterprise to cater for their own needs and help 25 orphaned children stay in school.
Today, Social Services see them as a star group, enterprising and very responsible, a group they would like to hold as an example not only to other orphans but all citizens.