When I was told I was going to Mozambique this summer with NOVARICA, I was really thrilled and excited. However, I was not expecting such a meaningful experience as the one I am living here in Maputo for more than a month now.
Our team of four girls is working on a project related to the implementation of financial literacy and the introduction of mobile money in the urban markets of Maputo and Matola. Now that I know a lot more about the entrepreneurs of these markets, I can understand why this is such an important study, and I cannot wait to see what the results will be.
But let’s start from the beginning. Our first 10 days were kind of an “internship” to understand the city of Maputo, with the help of our colleagues from NOVAFRICA’s office. It was so pleasing to know people that work everyday to reach goals similar to ours and with a similar conviction – that “Evidence trumps hopes and intuitions”.
Little by little, we began to be fascinated by Maputo and its contrasts – all around the colors of the beautiful “capulanas”, the smell of all the delicious fruits and vegetables being sold in streets, the joyful “Bom dia!” and the constant smiles from everyone. But if we look closely we can hear the grey sound of traffic, we can bump on a huge hole on the ground and we can experience some disturbing signs of poverty in some corners.
However, it is with great cheerfulness that we get into the “chapa” every morning and head to the markets with our teams of interviewers, always accompanied by the loud and animated music entering our still sleepy heads.
But the best part of the job is definitely having the opportunity to listen to such inspiring stories while interviewing the respondents on the markets. And definitely the warmth of new friendships… to receive an orange from our new 15 year old friend, to hear “Joaninha!!” everyday from my friends “vovós” and “mamãs”. With them I laugh until we cry and we are able to stay comfortable in moments of silence (which is a rare thing for me).
I am learning that although work can be very hard it’s worth it if we have a purpose. I am learning that if we want to contribute to Development Economics we have to put ourselves in other people’s shoes, to go beyond our fears and prejudice and really think about the issues. But mostly, I am learning how good it is to experience the kindheartedness and simplicity of the people from Mozambique!
Written by Joana Cardim, PhD student at Nova SBE and member of the NOVAFRICA Student Group.