Gaza Province, Mozambique
In January, I was able to travel to Xai Xai which is the Provincial capital of Gaza Province in Mozambique to our office there and train some of our staff on Village Savings and Loans (VSL)methodology. Project HOPE has been working in four districts there– Xai Xai, Chibuto, Chokwe and Guija through our USAID funded Orphans and Vulnerable Children(OVC) program where we have formed groups of OVC caregivers and given out loans (microcredit) to help them set up small businesses, expand existing ones etc. We combine these loan programs with health education.
What we are doing now, is using a different type of economic strengthening approach called savings and loans mobilisation, where groups of OVC caregivers are formed and they save their own money, which becomes a “loan fund” from which members of the group can apply for a small loan repayable back with interest to the group. This is also combined with comprehensive health education, covering topics such as HIV prevention, care and treatment, TB, Malaria, hygiene and sanitation, nutrition, legal rights of a child etc. Groups meet on a weekly basis and essentially support and encourage each other.
These two types of economic strengthening activities will then be compared to see which is more sustainable and effective in the longer-term.
We trained 11 promoters throughout the week on VSL methodology, how to teach health education and the importance of monitoring and evaluation, specifically how to conduct the crucial surveys that we do to measure the success of our project. We also included training on the history and work of Project HOPE around the world.
For me it was a good opportunity to get to know the staff better, try to understand some of the issues that they face in working in these difficult environments, and then try together to help problem solve. This was the first time that I have taught in Portuguese for about four years so each night I was exhausted, but the group told me I was understandable so that was good!
Xai Xai is also known for its beautiful beach, so after each day’s lessons we were all able to relax and enjoy each other’s company on the beach or watching the “Mambas” – Mozambique’s national soccer team play in the African Cup of Nations that was taking place then!
I am confident that over the next 6 months as this project gets up and running it will make a substantial difference in the people’s lives in the districts where we work. Check back to hear about how its going and to read some interviews from the participants.
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