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My volunteering experience in Maputo by Tuli Pandeni

In Nov/Dec 2013, I decided to step out of my comfort zone (Namibia My Motherland), to break out of this hard shell that has confined me to the four corners of my room and be amongst the first generation of AIESEC Namibia members to go on an exchange, but little did I know what awaits me on the other side of the borders. A two day bus trip to Mozambique was the longest trip I have ever taken, but a long comfortable ride it was, thanks to Intercape.
So I’m embarking on a journey that is supposedly to be the most incredible experience of my life. I’m a victim of Matthias Kunz & Djamila’s (AIESEC Namibia founding president and first lady) exceptional sales skills: “Mozambique is so beautiful, you would love it there, sounding all convincing to most.

In my head, been my typical wambo negative self I was like “BLUH, WATEVA” What could be so beautiful about this African country, falls, beaches, forests & bushes? I’ve seen them all, Namibia is the one, we got it all, been there seen it all, but I went anyhow. All I wanted was a breather, a change in scenery, a holiday where I didn’t have to travel to the north ( with its 40 ◦C weather ) and I wanted to get my experience , do something productive and grow.

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On my arrival in Maputo, I was so shocked. What I virtualized about Mozambique was not what I saw in reality: not as clean as Namibia.
Looking on the brighter side, WOW! What tall buildings this town had, I swear if you were on top of one, you where an inch closer to touching the clouds and heaven itself (now that’s my imagination running wild), but this were the tallest buildings I have ever seen, tallest but very old. We arrived at a 14 flight apartment building, which was going to be my new home for the next 6 weeks, I and 20 other students in a five bedroom apartment and did I mention we lived on the 13th floor, the second last floor in a building where it was all stairs, as the elevators broke down centuries ago by the look of things, talk about a home gym….

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My attachment was at an orphanage called Reencontro Orphanage, where we were mainly interns from South Africa, Botswana and I from Namibia. Our job description was mainly to fundraise for the orphanage home, we were a group of ±interns who teamed up on a project to conduct workshops (on personnel hygiene, dreaming big, self –esteem etc.) and having one big fair for children of 9-15 years of age. A tough 6 weeks it was, a lot of trials & tribulation and language barriers along the way, but a successful internship and project we had. This is where every intern contributed the little they could; be it a smile or a hug to brighten up someone’s day, to the workshop presentation or the organization of the fair. I for one was privileged to have been part of the team, to have helped and added value to someone’s life especially the children of Reencontro Orphanage.

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On the fun side, for leisure there was so much to do. Partying, shopping , sightseeing, Mozambique is a beautiful country I should conclude from the little is saw , even though because of finances I was not able to visit all the touristic attractions , I’m definitely saving up to go back and be the explore some more. Mozambique, Maputo is amongst, if not the safest country/city in the world.

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“Life is a long journey, just make sure you take the right road”- Unknown

Well I have surely taken the right road that taught me so much , an experience I would never forget , an experience that opened my eyes to new opportunities & Goals , that has connected me to other strong- minded, ambitious student, visionaries , some of whom ,I’ll cherish as friends despite the geographical distances. I meet different personalities & cultures that have taken and added different values and aspects to my life that changed me in more ways than one; mentally and emotionally.

My life will never be the same again, that “Wambo” negative girl is no more, a better me was born.

My Maputo Volunteering Experience by Tutala Uushona

Naturally, I love to work. Every holiday I am working. So this time I was browsing the internet and I stumbled upon the global internships. I have heard of AIESEC and its professionalism. Browsing through the website, I saw the Kutenga project and immediately I knew that it was something I wanted to spend my holiday doing.

I had very high expectations of AIESEC Mozambique, not only because of the level of competence that was portrayed by AIESEC Namibia, but because of the way they handled the whole interview process. Little did I know I was in for a big mess of a surprise.  I expected for everything to go as it was presented to me, a welcoming, and an internship with Kutenga. I expected to acquire new skills in the profession, and to improve where I slacked.

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Things started going wrong upon arrival. Firstly, I was left to fend for myself for an hour, my calls were being answered and dropped and then I finally got an address, which by the way, they forgot to mention was the wrong address. I was lucky to have made a friend on the bus who was helping me with everything, going to the wrong address and returning to the station until eventually an AIESEC UEM member showed up. So I didn’t get the big welcome, which was disappointing, and already I felt not welcome. And the next six weeks were not easy either.

I was placed with a family in an apartment were we were sharing one small room with four other trainees. I was greeted with, who is this? You didn’t tell us you were bringing another girl, and complaints about AIESEC UEM. The family was not so pleased either.  All I could think of was, this will be worth it when I start working. The next morning after my arrival I was ready to go to work, but after a while, I was still in the same apartment. The answer I always got was, there is no work today. I was then placed at Impact Weeks, which was an amazing project as the children were so eager to learn and they were such a delight. I also helped with the Christmas party at VGV which was a tremendous success.

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Although the period of no work were fun, traveling with other trainees, I didn’t go to play tourist in Mozambique. The main challenge for me was the level of mediocrity within the organization in Maputo. They had no respect for time whatsoever, nothing was ever done the way it was said to be done and the biggest challenge of them all COMMUNICATION!

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I was quite impressed with the one thing that was done right for me, which was my birthday. It was the one day that things were done accordingly as I had mentioned in my wish list. My birthday for me, is as important as the consumption of water is to humans. The one thing that shocked me during my birthday party was the way the people are so touchy; it was so extreme that one of my roommates cried harassment.

Through all this, I can truly say that I have learned perseverance and patience. I was always the one giving them guidelines on how to communicate, and eventually I accepted that I would just have to keep repeating the lesson. I had met amazing people from around the world, some of them have become my best friends, like two in particular Kiito (Namibia) and Nadine (Germany) of whom we almost did everything together. I would say that the people of Mozambique outside of AIESEC were very nice and interesting. Mozambique is a very beautiful country that I would travel to again. My experience has taught me to appreciate what I would naturally disregard, like punctuality at work.

I would definitely recommend people to go on such exchanges because they test you, and teach you that you are stronger than the limits set. It is a chance to not only discover yourself, make friends but to also learn and be a global citizen that is not oblivious to things that happen outside your perceived world. And if you do choose to go to Maputo, my advice to you is, be strong and try to exercise patience.

Respond to Every call that excites your spirit by Kristophina Shilongo

I had a deep, piercing and urgent calling in my spirit to live beyond how I was living. It’s an amazing feeling to know that you are about to be changed. Being lost in service to others will leave you scared for life. The type of scares that you’d take pride in for having.
Wanderlust (n):
A strong desire or urge to wander or travel and explore the world.
Volunteer (n):
A person who does small things with great love. They are paid in smiles.

For 6 weeks I did the most heart thrusting and life fulfilling things at the same time. Wrapped in a beautiful but scary experience called volunteerism.

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I’ve met volunteers before, many from The United States of America and Germany. The misconception is that they are rich, bored or both. I too believed so. The concept of working for free and beyond the comfort and safety of your own country never made sense to me. Why would any sane person live in a village somewhere in Africa to teach kids who might not even understand the importance or relevance of education? Funny how the tables have turned, I’ve been handed a new set of eyes.

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As you can imagine, I had utopia like expectations of my stay in Mozambique. Early morning jogs to the beach before work, late night swims, endless conversations about life and our experiences with the countless number of people I would meet. And most importantly working with the most adorable kids in the world. Firstly, the internet betrayed my trust and secondly reality has no mercy. It hit me, hard!

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Although my (somewhat unrealistic) expectations were not met. I take with me the greatest life experience. When working with entities or companies there are some misunderstandings and miscommunications, AIESEC was no exception. It’s is impressive though the passion that the members served with. I cannot express how much the people I met have changed my perception of the world, of life and mostly importantly of myself.

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The most challenging thing about being in Mozambique for me was finally meeting me. I stared at myself, flaws and strengths. It was painful but it was essentially, looking at myself as if I were somebody else allowed me identify my flaws so that I can work on them and use my strengths effectively.

Mozambique is a beautiful country. I’ve enjoyed my stay so much I plan to return for a minimum of 12 months.

In conclusion, I’m thankful for the cultural experiences that have painted a new worldview for me. I’ll forever treasure the skills that no University will ever teach me and the history lessons that no History book will ever give justice to.

My Mozambican Experience by Rauna Shikomba

As a member of AIESEC Poly telling people to go on internships and get out of their comfort zones, I told my mother to start saving up too just so that I get an experience of my own. I decided to go to Mozambique because I wanted something challenging as people there hardly speak English and that I met AIESEC UEM’s project requirements. That’s how I applied for administration assistant at Kutenga an NGO in Maputo.

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I loved the fact that AIESEC Mozambique was so welcoming, friendly and made me feel at home. What surprised me most is that their parties start very late that’s mostly at 23:00 or even if it’s not a party you never go out early. There was then a concept of “we are always late “that we made most of them drop the mentality as it came to a point that you would be late for work.

 I did not start as soon as I arrived as the first week, some issues were being resolved. When I started, it was quite challenging as I did not have a translator and communicating in Portuguese was a little hard. I was very disappointed when I found out the NGO had to close and that I had to switch projects. I felt that AIESEC UEM should have kept in touch with the NGO and planned better before advertising the opportunity and having us travel there. It felt like AIESEC Mozambique has more concerns on bringing in many people than providing quality internships.

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My new project was Impact weeks; with other interns, we had to raise funds and organize a fair for the kids that another group of interns taught English at the end of our experience. The first day was great as we went door to door telling the parents to allow their kids to come to the school so we teach them English and they where helping us speak Portuguese as they saw we did not know.

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The internship has taught me to be patient and deal with different kind of people as we had some that did not know how to work in a team and did not know how to value other people’s opinions. It has taught me that communication is very important and that you don’t have to know the language one is speaking to communicate or hear what they say, it takes effort and patience too. I also met some really great people that I now consider as friends.

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 The internship also taught me to appreciate home more. It taught me how to value what I have more. My chapa (minibus, most common transport medium in Maputo) moments  has taught me to value our taxis at home because a chapa can never be too full.

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These internships will show you how strong you really are and will help you discover things about yourself that you never knew of or things that you did not know you are able to do. You will also learn how other people do things as well as their culture. I attended a traditional wedding and it was very fun and entertaining. I had the time of my life helping organize a Christmas party for the kids at VGV NGO. It was such a success; the kids, I and my colleagues had a great time.

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