Dzi Pelile (Good evening),
It has been almost two weeks since I arrived in Mozambique and the stories that will stay forever don’t stop happening. I try to regularly write my family in order to, not only feel them closer to me but also to make sure the details of this fantastic experience will stay registered.
As someone determined in working in development, it is an honour to be involved in this project of introducing mobile banking in Mozambique. Mobile banking, this is, the usage of a cell phone to access an individual’s bank account, allowing immediate and safe transactions, is undoubtedly a service that can facilitate one’s day-to-day and support him/her in managing his/her finances. In Mozambique, especially in the rural areas, where I have been working, access to banks is limited, since they only exist in the cities or more central and developed villages. Many need to travel for several kms until they reach a bank, which involves, not only time but also money…
Still, mobile banking can bring many other benefits, such as eliminating the never-ending queues to pay for electricity or tv. Through a few cliques, the bills are paid and people can instead apply their time in much more productive and interesting activities. Also the remittances from the migrants can be done in an immediate and safe manner, as opposed to handing them to the bus driver and praying for them to arrive.
However, the introduction of such an innovative service does face numerous challenges, such as the expected initial reluctance and distrust from the communities. It is up to us, in collaboration with the agents from each community (shop keepers that represent the service locally), to present and explain the service and the benefits attached to it, thus gaining their necessary confidance.
I have been working in the field for 9 days now with Alberto and Fernando, and indeed, challenges is something pretty common around here. It is important to mention tough that the concept of “challenge” is extremely subjective… Just between you and I, my challenges have been slightly greater than theirs, as I am only just a beginner and the lack of comfort and different (very different!!) lifestyle sometimes hits me a bit.
Nothing that, breathing in and out and thinking that it really will be worth it, don’t help.
Just to give you an idea: shower? only with a bucket (but don’t worry because usually there’s hot water); in terms of meals, there’s grilled chicken, grilled chicken and grilled chicken (slightly exaggerated but close to the truth); sometimes little “adorable” bugs accompany us at night while we sleep; and the Jeep, despite being super resistant, has already faltered… During the dark and silent night, in the middle of nowhere, we had the lovely surprise of having a flat tire.
But for me, the most incredible part is interacting with the people. There are people who inspire us and who make us feel that our efforts do make sense and are worth it.
One of these people is Mr. Macambo, married to one of the agents we work with. It could be his blue eyes or 80 years of age that allow him to see with such clarity, I don’t know… But I can tell you that his open-mind and vision for development were obvious during the short conversation we had. I truly hope the boy that works at their shop realises the great mentor he can have and takes proper advantage of it.
Another of the people I’d like to introduce you is Dona Felizarda, apparently very popular amongst NOVAFRICA’s team. She is Alberto’s mom and since she lives in Manjacaze, close to some of the areas we work in, whenever she can, she gives us shelter. Mamã (the polite way of treating a lady in Mozambique) seems to be a very strong person, full of conviction about what she wants for her life. She left her life in Maputo for love and has not regrets. Her house, despite modest, is full of harmony, love and good taste. Surrounded by Alberto’s siblings, I felt at home. It reminded me of my grandma’s weekly dinners with all my cousins and sisters.
I will now get ready to rest, as tomorrow it will be another long and tough day. The bumps of Jeep do not get any better and my back is begging for a pause.
Hi ta vhonana (until next time).
Written by Ana Rita Casimiro, student of Nova SBE working with NOVAFRICA at Mozambique for the Research Internship – Summer of 2014.