Had an amazing visit with the fam! Only low points were when a herd of wild buffalo came stampeding towards our car in Kruger Park and when there was a forest fire a few yards from our hotel in South Africa. hahaha. Mozambique was peaceful and calm-it was so wonderful being together :) Everyone here is obsessed with my fam- 5 of the brothers have taken up the roles of my family members, so every morning I am greeted with "good morning my daughter" (said my Bro Daniel).
The girls soccer team has finally picked up major speed. We have started playing against the Escola Secondaria da Moamba and the girls even have official team uniforms with our school's name on them (they are the boys old uniforms but hey, it's a start and the girls LOVE them). It has just been pretty amazing to see the transformation that something as simple as a soccer team has produced. While at first I had to fight every practice for a ball, space to practice etc, we now have the boys on our side. There are two boys who are actually helping to coach the team (the girls listen to them and do the drills so I am SO happy!), and the other boys come out every day to cheer on the girls during practices, which we now have 3times a week. 2 female teachers have also joined in and play with us during practice (I play now too which everyone loves. hahaha. They were so shocked that I could actually play) which has been so much fun. The other day while we were playing, I looked around, saw the girls and professoras playing, and seriously at least a hundred boys crowded around the sidelines cheering-it is crazy how the attitudes have changed. During our first 2 big games we lost BADLY (5-0 and 5-1) but it has only helped to motivate the girls, and the boys too (they want the girls to win!) and it's really cool to see so much participation. The one goal that we did score during our second game was really awesome-it made the entire game for the girls. Afterwards, you would have thought we had won the game because they were all so pumped! It's just really great because it's changed from something that I felt like I was pushing to something that everyone, girls, boys, teachers want to continue. Amazing :) We are also up to 4 balls (thanks to my mom's donation!) after our 1 and only ball exploded during a practice.
July has been a month of serious traveling for me-had 3 conferences back to back..to back. The first one was in Maputo, were I helped to plan out our REDES conference (conf. for all of our girls groups) which was a cool learning experience to see the behind the scenes aspect of having a conference. I have been thinking more about if I want to try for a leadership position (just not sure because of the stress levels) since the volunteers of moz. 14 are leaving and my group will be taking over. Then I headed up to Maxixe in Inhambane Province (10hrs north of my site) for a Project Dev. Management Conference. It was fun because we all brought a counterpart (PC's word for a Mozambican that we work with on our projects) and there were only 20ish of us in all so everyone got a chance to really participate.
I briefly returned to site where the bacteria in my finger came back for the 4th!!!!! time. So horrible. This was definitely the worst that it's ever been-so bad that everyone at my site, who normally say that my finger things aren't a big deal, was like "OMG you need to go to a hospital" hahaha. Which is what I ended up doing-finger was doubled in size, with some lovely green lesions all over it. So, I got to experience my second surgeons visit which was a tad bit worse this time, since he didn't numb my finger at all before cutting out the spots. Quite painful. But thankfully, things are much better now and I am feeling confident that the stupid thing is going to stay away for good! So parents, don't be worried :)
I then continued to the REDES conference which was once again in Inhambane Province-in Barra. So incredibly beautiful. Our hotel was really remote and right on the beach. We stayed in little beach huts which were super nice and as always, the food was amazing! The conference was made up of 10 volunteers and counterparts with 2 girls from each group (120 people total). It was so empowering, not only for the girls but for us as well. We spent our days (conf. was a full week long) in sessions talking about topics ranging from sex and gender, to HIV, to planning for our futures. We also had mini sessions every day, my friend Peggy and I led one about Public Speaking which was cool to give the girls opportunities to speak in front of a group, confidently. We also had a time set up for 2 of the days for HIV testing-which for the girls that got tested was a Huge step. Overall, although very tiring at times, the conference was really great because it was a safe space for girls to discuss whatever issues they wanted to, and to feel proud to be a woman. I definitely left feeling proud- one the trip back to site some guy was trying to cut us in line for the chappas and I literally almost backhanded him, I think because I was on a power high. hahaha. It was also just really fun for the girls to meet other girls and woman who are self confident and who want to change the gender standards here in Moz.
Now it's back to the grind in Moamba. I'm still teaching and am starting a new project with two of the professores here to create an English Program for our school. Since I am the native English speaker, I’m the head of our group and will be in charge of creating a school wide curriculum as well as monitoring the classes of the other 2 professores to make sure that we are all on the same page. We'll see how it goes...
Hope everyone is doing great back home and enjoying Summer! We are ending winter here (I’m actually ready for it to be hot again, although I’m sure I will regret feeling that way as soon as the scorching begins) and I’m starting up on a new running plan. After my fam's visit (where I ate McDonalds 4 days in a row) I was thrown off my wake up early and run schedule (we slept in until like 9 ha-ha) and due to cold temps I found it easier to stay in bed than to run. Because of this, and the 3 confs(so much easier to pack when not including sneakers and running clothes)I haven't been running for seriously like the last 3wks. But, I have started again and am feeling pumped!
I am hoping to make a visit back to the states in December of this year, so hopefully I will be able to visit with as many people as possible. Love you all :)