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Day 1 – Returning to the Long Days of Mozambique

The day begins early. In fact, it starts the night before with our departure from Lisbon at 7:15 PM, not without the delays that always greet us when we seek to arrive faster. Sleep helps ensure that the day ahead is well utilized. 

As we approach land, the colours change, and the touch of the airplane reminds us that it’s true, we are indeed in Mozambique. No matter how much time passes, the longing is always there, and the feeling of returning is always unique, always special. 

We appreciate the long journey, the numerous stops, the packed “chapas” (local bus), the roads that this time seem to have fewer potholes. Chokwé awaits us, there’s no time to lose, but there must be time to savour. 

At S. Vicente, our journey and arrival truly begin. Hugs multiply, smiles hide tears of emotion. Children sing and dance, and we want to listen. This time I promised myself to take fewer photos to be able to be in each moment, savour every word, record every comment. Sometimes the will fails, and there I am making a video, but it’s impossible to remain indifferent. The effort and dedication of the warrior dancers does not go unnoticed; this group of children is increasingly united by the love of traditional dance. 

The noise we hear from the other side of the school tells us it’s time for school meals. There are 1743 children who need to eat, so the shifts have to be divided. It’s rice and chicken day. We share their lunch and toast the cooks for the flavour they bring to our meal and, more importantly, for the effort they put into mixing rice, water, salt, but also love for these children who often do not have another meal. 

We are called to the teachers’ room and with some formality receive communications about activities, the school, the projects. I shift uncomfortably in my chair; the years will never get me used to these formalities. I want to interrupt, ask questions, but I stay quiet and listen. Mozambique is a good place to teach us to stop, breathe, and listen until the end. Often only by allowing silence can we allow the space to be filled by those who have something important to say. So I listen. When it’s my turn, the feeling I have is that I owe more thanks here than those who convey them to me. It’s this team that does the work, these teachers who are in the school, these sisters who multiply themselves to reach all requests. 

In a more convivial atmosphere, we share our meal and exchange small stories. We’re still warming up, and the day is already long. It’s only the first part of the visit to S. Vicente, and we’ve already left with our hearts full. A day like this already makes the work and effort worthwhile. 

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