Posted by Grace Ndungu, Plan Eastern and Southern Africa web and social media editor
25 February 2013: After a 3 hour drive from Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, we finally arrive in Chokwe town. The destruction caused by the recent floods is still evident but life seems to be slowly getting back to normal.
Electricity and running water have been restored. The community of mostly women and children is cleaning up the rubble left in the wake of what has been referred to as Mozambique’s worst floods in 13 years.
There are very few men, if any, in Chokwe and I wonder why. Soon enough, I learn that the town is mainly populated by women and children, as many male adults have gone to South Africa in search of work in the mines. It is these women and children who are having to contend with the effects of the floods.
Rummaging for books
Walking into a primary school just a stone’s throw away from Chokwe town helps one appreciate the extent of the destruction caused by the floods. Pupils rummage through a heap of soiled and torn papers, which used to be their library just a month ago - perhaps searching for any reading material that they can salvage.
Across the school, wet desks are laid out in the open to allow the sun to dry them in readiness for the children’s return to class.
I meet up with Jeremy, a 12-year-old boy who used to spend most of his afternoons in the school library. He, like many other students, is keeping his fingers crossed - hoping for things to return to normal so he can continue with his education. I feel for him.
I also meet Teresa Manhique, director of Nkosse Primary School, and she tells me that most pupils cannot attend school because they are still living in makeshift camps and they lost most of their educational material.
She also tells me that the few pupils that have returned to school are experiencing problems concentrating in class as they often come to learn on empty tummies. Most families still do not have enough food.
I am here with my colleagues from Plan to distribute 10,000 learners’ kits to help these children return to school - as the country rebuilds education institutions and other infrastructure destroyed by the floods.
This is our small way of helping to ensure that children return to school. By the time we leave Chokwe town, we have managed to put smiles back on the faces of many children who were itching to go back to school. There’s no better feeling!