When you have acquired a taste for dust,
The scent of our first rain,
you're hooked on Africa for life
And you will not be right again
Until you can watch the setting moon
And hear the jackals bark
And know they are around you,
Waiting in the dark.

When you long to see the elephants,
Or to hear the coucal's song
When the moonrise sets your blood on fire
You have been away too long.
It's time to cut the traces loose
And let your heart go free
Beyond that far horizon
Where your spirit yearns to be.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Schools Out for Summer

children on a crab collecting mission

We popped in to see the school while we were in Mozambique a week or so ago.  Although it was already school holidays and the children were at home or visiting relatives, we did manage to speak to the Head Teacher Senor Machal, whose village adjoins the school property.

Lucas (left) and Snr Machal, Head Teacher

I must say without the vibrant energy of the children, the acre of sand looked pretty dejected.  'Our' school room looked great but the others seemed to be in various states of disrepair. One classroom had a roof, but the palm leaf walls had fallen away - probably in a storm; another room had caniso walls like ours, but the roof was gone.  I expect all will be put together again for the new year once the rainy season is over. The summer rains bring wind storms that can be very destructive.

Lucas assures me he still intends to finish the concrete floor on 'our' schoolroom and the remaining roof sheets, but he has to wait for his annual leave.  The materials meanwhile are stored at his house. It is not safe to leave them in the deserted school yard.

Senor Machal at the grass hut where the school benches are stored for the holiday season
his wife chose not to be photographed

Senor Machal has taken the very smart benches we had made, and is storing them in a separate grass hut in his village.  We were taken there and shown that they were safely stored in a dry place.  This time I was able to give Lucas enough cash to make some more benches, with generous donations from Geli  and Kelly and Bill Smith from Hampshire, UK who were with us on the trip.

future scholars at Matsopane

Sadly some vandals had come in and destroyed one of the blackboards.  When the school has so little, it is incredible to think someone from the same village would do such a thing, but I suppose it only takes one person.  Hence the need to securely store the benches and books.

village women harvesting the coastal floodplains

Huge thanks to the efforts of Geli ,  Janet , and Amanda we have a growing nest egg of funds collected during the festive season, which will go towards having desks made. Please visit Amanda's blog to see her Christmas post about the school.  It really is wonderful to know that in these difficult economic times, and during the frenetic christmas season, there are people who can extend the spirit of giving to include this little school at the end of a long sandy track.  I know it makes a huge difference to the children and teachers, to know that there are people out there that think of them.

dhow fishermen bringing home the catch

Some people have asked if the children know about Christmas. Well certainly, there are various mission churches in the area, and I know Lucas' family go to the Catholic Church - but I very much doubt they know anything about Christmas lights, Santa, decorated trees, turkey feasts and the complaints of excess that follow a day of surfeit on the consumer side.

Heartfelt thanks on behalf of the Matsopane school to all who have supported them thus far and Merry Christmas wishes to one and all.

dhow fishing and tourism is a major source of income for the men of the village


  1. Dear Val,
    without your traveling efforts (over potholes and dusty long roads) nothing of our funding would be of any use! YOUR going there personally, talking with the teachers and fathers and making sure things are being carried out is what makes the difference! Yes, there are storms, and cyclones, and poverty, and even vandalism, and a government who has forgotten about its children, but WE DO NOT FORGET! I love to be part of this our little school project, and I think each child that learned to read, write and calculate and can find a job later on, will never forget, either!
    Happy Christmas, all of you!

  2. Dear Geli - i think Matsopane school is just so far away from the main routes, that it is probably last in line for hand outs and upgrades etc the Schools in the main centers are in much better shape - but still with room for improvement I am sure. You make all the difference to this little school Geli - that is for sure! xx

  3. Val I think you are absolutely correct on our school being "last in line" at Mozambique Department of Education. We'll continue our efforts and hopefully make some difference - no matter how small.

    I echo your thanks to everyone who contributes to our efforts.

    Biggest thanks to you and Geli for your unfailing commitment.

    Here's to 2012 xxxx

  4. Great work and thanks so much for the update(s) - catching up again! I love the photo of those future scholars.. and feel very upset about the vandalism, but as you say "it only takes one"...

  5. wonderful report as always, val. how sad that someone feels the need to destroy property in a school that has so little, but i prefer to focus on the positive: all those children who inhabit this place and continue to learn about their world. i dream about one day visiting the little school at the end of the long sandy track.


  6. It's been almost a year since your last post!

  7. Thank you for coming by my blog. I did not know that you had stopped your blog Letters from Usedom. I am sure all the children are so happy to have you involved with their school. I hope 2013 will be a very happy and good year for you.