In 2007, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) called Mozambique “a success story in Sub-Saharan Africa.” Indeed, since 2001, the annual average growth of the southern African nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) has been among the highest in the world.
But Mozambique has been more than an economic success. We’ve seen the hard work YALI Network members there are doing to promote the issues that matter to them, from business and entrepreneurship to the rights of women and girls. Read their stories below, and you’ll see why Mozambique is this week’s #CountryoftheWeek!
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Our first featured YALI Network member comes from Nampula. Her name is Irene Nurtaque Grave, but she calls herself the “Queen of the Chickens.” To understand her nickname, you have to hear her story.
Growing up, Irene’s mother supported a family of six on her own. “Sometimes it was difficult for her to get a job,” Irene says, and she was often harassed during her search. So Irene’s mother decided to start her own business. Under her guidance, the family raised and sold chickens — until she got very sick. “We ended up using business money for her treatment,” Irene says.
Irene went to work to help support the family, and in 2016, she started university courses in business management. “I thought about starting a business and applying what I was studying,” Irene says. Then it hit her: raising chickens. “It was then that I started my project, called ‘Queen of the Chickens.’”
It was the YALI Network, Irene says, that inspired her to take the idea from project to full-fledged business. “Participating in YALI gave me more strength to… move from a simple project to a company with the capacity to generate employment for the community,” she says. “At the moment, I’m raising chickens in a warehouse with capacity for 900, but I intend to build two pavilions in order to increase production.”
Irene also credits her commitment to education with helping her succeed. “I now acknowledge the strength that our education gives us,” Irene says, “and that our personal dedication to our studies is the key to the development of the community and of the country in general.”
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Our next featured member, Agostinho Chambe, is a chemistry teacher at a Maputo Province high school. He believes “everyone has a mission on this planet.” Fortunately, he says, “I have identified mine: to work on environmental protection.”
“I see that some of the problems threatening the environment are related to lack of knowledge,” Agostinho says, “so I’m focused on empowering youths.” He attended a program at the YALI Regional Leadership Center in Pretoria, South Africa, where he was chosen to moderate a climate change debate. The experience “improved my leadership skills,” says Agostinho, and strengthened his resolve “to teach my students, and the whole community, to be aware of the impact of their daily activities on the environment.”
Back at school, Agostinho has applied his newfound skills to lead the Health and Environment group on campus. “I teach students the difference between organic and synthetic trash and their different impacts on the environment,” he says. Then, he organizes cleanup campaigns at school and at local beaches. Sometimes, they attract media attention, and he uses the opportunity to educate those watching at home.
“Since doing this, our beaches… have reduced the amount of trash,” Agostinho says, “and municipal [officials] are also collaborating.”
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An exchange program in the United States opened the eyes of our last featured member, Euclinton Ancheldásio, to the effects volunteerism can have on communities. “After learning in my host community that I could do much more in my home country,” Euclinton says, “I identified with one cause that is becoming a global issue in developing countries such as Mozambique.” The issue? “The lack of investment in women and girls.”
Euclinton’s first step was to learn more by taking a YALI Network online course, Focus On: Understanding the Rights of Women and Girls. “After taking the course,” he says, “I planned and delivered my first #YALILearns event in a high school here in Maputo.”
Organizing the event was such “a thrilling experience,” Euclinton says, that he has organized five more like it. His events and associated work have focused on gender equality, child marriage, HIV prevention, and volunteerism. He has also been invited to participate as a guest speaker to promote educational opportunities in the United States.
“It is so rewarding to me to stop, now, and look back on all the things I’ve done since joining the YALI Network,” Euclinton says. “By educating people, we all do better.” [vc_single_image image=”11417″ alignment=”center” border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” img_size=”full”]