1st week: “When entering the teacher asked my name and I replied: “Diogo”. All of a sudden he was teaching the children (about 9 or 10) how to say my name. Then, like a church choir, the whole class was chanting: Diogo! Diogo! Diogo! It was lovely and I felt welcomed.”
2nd week: “On Thursday I felt truly useful to the centre. After lunch I saw about 10 children running towards me and saying “Diogo, we want to colour with you!” Uau!! As soon as I nodded a huge smile appeared in their faces and they were thrilled to get pencils, pens, paper etc… After colouring I taught the class how to fold a sheet of paper in half to make a paper boat. They coloured them and when I started to put them up in the wall with the drawings they made the smiles appeared again. I counted 25 children in the room. Since my arrival I had never seen so many!”
Final week: “The days are passing by and a week from packing, there is an endless will to enjoy every moment and to do as much as possible… During this week I had to write down individual files for the children just to collect some data regarding their family structure and their progress in school. I was shocked with the number of children that did not know even know how old they were… Actually, many of them are not even registered. They are… no one. Fortunately some had older brothers, cousins or neighbours who could tell us something about them…
The major difference between a good student here and in Europe is that the Mozambican student does not have anyone encouraging him/her to study, to learn. All he/she achieved is due to his/her work and a LOT of sacrifice. I have always lived in a school and family environment in which I was rewarded and comforted while learning. When I lost my motivation I had colleagues, teachers and parents surrounding me, giving me incentive, and giving me the will to continue and not to give up. Here this does not happen!
By Diogo Sassetti, ALG (Portugal) Volunteer at CRPE in 2012