A Dose of Much-Needed Happiness

May 26th

I think I’m over jet lag. Not entirely, but getting there. I slept a hard 9 hours last night, waking up this morning to a rushed agenda. We were late and the car was leaving. I threw on my lucky baseball cap, grabbed my camera, brushed my teeth and changed my t-shirt. Time to go.
The car left for Dondo – one of the few remaining spots in this area of Mozambique where the rainforest has survived. We were on a scouting mission; our work is expanding into a sixth village, hopefully extending our health services to another 250 families. We spent the first two hours of the day driving around like one giant African cliché – Americans in a white Land Rover driving slowly through a rural village, stopping to make small talk and take lots of photos. Thankfully, we realized the people here were doing well – too well to be incorporated into our work. That is the crazy thing about this country. The GDP is increasing at 6.5% annually, making it one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Still, it ranks fifth poorest in the world. It is a terrifying mix of poverty and hope. Dondo is doing well. I accepted this silver lining with arms wide open.
To counter yesterday‚Äôs heartbreak, today we found happiness. We ate lunch at a great little caf√© on the beach, watching the fishermen pull in their nets. My friends sipped cold Manicas, the official beer of Mozambique. We quickly walked through the Central Hospital of Beira and saw that the facility was dramatically improved in the last two years. The windows have glass and screens, making keeping the malarial mosquitoes away from patients much easier. The last time I was here, holes in the screens made even the newborns subject to deathly bites. There was fresh paint. There was a new ambulance. There were patients being seen — fabulous on all accounts.
But today’s most incredible accomplishment was finding a friend’s childhood home. She grew up in Mozambique and asked me to try to photograph her old house. With the decaying roads and neighborhoods in mind I wasn’t hopeful, but I told her I would try. She printed off aerial maps of the area and gave me her old address – certainly I’d be able to locate this tiny spot 10,000 miles away between two small landmarks. Right?
After showing the maps to our driver and patiently driving and then walking in circles for about 30 minutes, not only did we find the house, we found the family who has been living in it for the last 31 years. The neighbors remembered her. They were surprised and very interested in hearing about the first people to ever come back and photograph the neighborhood. It was surreal. They looked at the Google maps and stared at their homes as seen from space. They couldn’t get over the technology, or that a woman now living in America was looking at them from so far away, wondering about the small cement house she once called home. I can’t wait to share the photos with her when I return.
And I bought fabric. Oh, the fabric. It is wax-dyed, bright, gorgeous and distinctly Mozambican. I cannot wait to photograph it and share it with others.
I also managed to call my folks in Texas using Skype. Have you heard of this program? It cost me exactly $.60 to make a 3-minute call. Plus, I’ve got Internet where I am staying. Tomorrow is another story. Today, however, was a very good day for me in the technology department.
I can’t thank you enough for your kind words during my travel. I feel like I have a hundred friends tucked in my backpack cheering on my every move and keeping me motivated to do good. Muito obrigada.

p.s. If you’ve seen my luggage (yep, coincidentally that photo of the day up there in the right-hand corner) feel free to send it my way. My socks are threatening to become part of my body.

p.p.s Tomorrow I’m off to the “bush.” We are going to a rural ranch and possibly a game reserve. Lots of things to see in this big, beautiful country.

Posted in
Africa, Journal, Travel
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39 Responses

  1. Gosh…hope the luggage shows up!

    Sounds like a good trip thus far.

    Love Skype.

  2. Yay! An “up” day! So glad…

    And I know there will more down days, but I hope the up days far outnumber those!

    Happy bush trekking!

  3. i’m happy to read that today was more hopeful. that’s amazing about your friend’s house. it must’ve been an experience for you & the people who remember her. i’ll keep my fingers crossed that your luggage shows up & i will continue to pray for you.

  4. It sounds like you’ve had an amazing day. It’s good to find that some villages are improving. Doesn’t it give you hope for the ones that aren’t there yet?

    Skype’s amazing! My husband and I use it a lot. In fact we set it up for my in-laws when they were in Puerto Vallarta for four months. We created one with a local American number, but then had Skype forward the call to their condo. It was a local call for friends and family back home and it didn’t cost too much for my folks. Great thing technology!

    Have fun in the “bush” tomorrow!

  5. After yesterday (which my husband and I were discussing this morning and just couldn’t get over), today sounds like it was so refreshing — wonderful! It amazes me to hear what a difference such small changes can make. I mean, changing the screen and adding glass to a window? Amazing.

    Enjoy your next adventure – I’m praying for y’all!

  6. I enjoy so much reading you Kelli, as
    I always say, you inspire me and many others. Best of luck in your trip.

  7. serious no luggage yet?! glad this trip is bringing you such joy. thanks for sharing all of the emotions with us!

  8. I’m glad that I didn’t read about your yesterday until I had already read about your today–does that make sense? I don’t know how you do it, it’s so painful from way over here, not face-to-face with the suffering. But I’m so happy to know someone who is doing something to make this world a better place. Keep going!!! And I hope your luggage finds you soon! In the meantime, you could start knitting some new socks in your copious free time! (That’s a joke, in case it’s not obvious.)

  9. I was awake at 4AM and I knew you were there. I have waited so very long for this. Thank you.

  10. Amazing world & times we live in! If you could find your friend’s house, I know someone will find your luggage! Traveling mercies!

  11. I’m happy your finding some joy, but really,it’s time for those socks to show up…ciao

  12. Jennifer May 26, 2007

    Sending support and good thoughts your way! Technology is pretty cool, but I’m waiting for replicators (like in Star Trek) – then maybe you could get some socks. 🙂

  13. Thank you for sharing your experiences, observations, and emotion here. And I am so glad there was some happiness today. Hang in there! Hopefully the luggage will come soon so you can feel fresh again.

  14. I’ve been catching up on your Mozambique posts tonight. I’m so glad that you found some happiness today! Good luck in the bush! 🙂

  15. Good luck out there. I am happy to hear that people are doing better. I have a lot of hope for their future. Stay safe

  16. I’m really glad that you had a good day today. Your account from yesterday was heartbreaking. You are doing good work.

  17. What amazing time! I especially love the story about finding the house. So cool!

  18. I leave you alone for a minute and you lose your luggage! Ha! Ha! I’m glad to be along for the trip. Fascinating.

  19. Crystal May 27, 2007

    I’m so glad the technology works out once in awhile and you can share with us! Don’t worry about the luggage – just keep sharing your smile and do what you can. Please know that the work you are doing is so encouraging and if there’s more we can do to help, please let us know. Take care – I’m looking forward to seeing the fabrics :))

  20. Kelli, reading about your journey every day and wishing and hoping for the best for you (and your luggage). I truly admire and respect the work that you do, and someday, I would love to take a trip to Africa myself. Know that you have lots of people rooting you on in spirit and we will be wishing good things for the people and country of Africa too :). Be strong–Nina 🙂

  21. So glad you’re having a great time…sorry about the luggage 😉

  22. these posts are amazing kelli… thank you so much for sharing the stories of your work with us. sending you found-luggage thoughts and wishes for continued hope.

  23. I too am sending good “luggage thoughts” your way. Hope they arrive sooner than we get our DSL running again at our house. 🙂
    Can’t wait to see some photos from your trip!

  24. Wow! What a productive day! Sending you safe thoughts! 🙂 Good luck.

  25. Sandy-LA 90034 May 28, 2007

    I am looking forward to seeing pictures of the fabric you purchased! You have such a wonderful color and pattern sense.

    Thank you for sharing your experiences, the hopeful as well as the depressing. I hope your trip succeeds in everything you hope for. Just know that YOU are the kind of ambassador this country needs now more than ever. Your empathy and sincerity will create new positive bonds in this sad and beautiful world of ours.

    I hope the luggage arrives ASAP and safely.

  26. I hope you get your luggage soon! Great to hear that today was better for you. Good luck with those socks. Yikes.

  27. Susie & Mark May 28, 2007

    You go, Kel! We are so proud of you and absolutely love reading about your adventures. You are an inspiration. Glad that today was an ‘upper’ compared to yesterday. I, too, read about today before reading about yesterday and hope that things along your route only continue to be improvements. We have ‘Lost’ is waiting for you.

  28. Yeah, an up day. I’m happy for you. We use skype all the time, with my family in Australia – it’s the only way to go!.

  29. Shayla May 29, 2007

    Love Skype, David’s been using it for a year or two. He talks to his brother in Iraq on it. The story of finding that woman house is amazing, thanks for sharing.

  30. I hope your luggage gets to you soon! I’ll keep it in my prayers. My suggestion: wash your socks in the sink with a bar of soap and hang them to dry over night… but I’m sure you’ve thought of that already 😉

    Thank you for sharing your trip.

  31. Still no luggage? Hope it shows up soon! I love reading about your adventures in Africa!

  32. how awesome that Dondo is thriving. One less thing to have on your mind. you have such great experiences. it’s wonderful that you found your friends home. that’s one great way to build connections between folks. all this and fabric, too? oh, you are having the adventure of a lifetime, my dear. but you do it everyday!

  33. Thanita May 29, 2007

    Wow! I got this web address from a pen pal. We just started writing to each other. I’m in the US in Virginia and she’s in Hong Kong. Actually, I haven’t gotten the chance to write her until today so if Rachel is reading this…it’s in the mail!!! 🙂 She mentioned she was sending a sort of “care package” to Mozambiqui. Is there anything anyone needs? If so let me know what and where to send it! Keep up the good work!

  34. Thanks for sharing Kelli. Brought tears to my eyes again. Hope your luggage shows up soon. Will be thinking of you and hoping things go smoothly. We have been having very heavy rains here in Texas and a lot of flooding.

  35. oh kelli…hope you get that luggage back soon…:) best of luck to you with everything.

  36. So you are in Beira ! I can’t wait to see some pictures. I was there, as a child …
    Good luck !

  37. Jennifer D May 30, 2007

    Kelli, I can’t tell you how many times a day my thoughts go out to you and the people of Africa. I know you are making a difference in lives there and in mine. Please know that we are surrounding you with warrior prayers of support and love. (And we are giving up offerings to the luggage fairies!) I’ve been studying about “hope” and how people endure, Please don’t give up hope. Know that we are here for you and the people you love in Africa.

  38. What a wonderful story about your friend’s childhood home and its current occupants! I hope there are many more such moments during the rest of your trip.

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