Rotary Club 4690 Let Kids Be Kids Program

2017 Mozambique Trip

My name is Jennifer Middleton and this is my story about a program I started in 2006 through the Rotary Club of Brantford.  This is my story...
RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Award) 2006 was my life changing experience and the beginning chapter to a never ending book!
In 2017, this was my fifth trip to Mozambique over the past 11 years and in 2017. T I was able to share my passions and experiences with others who accompanied me.  by a For my 2017 trip, fellow Rotarian Shalaka Kulkarni and my good friends friend father Tom Stoffelsen (my friends Father) accompanied me. Shalaka is well versed in travelling and grew up in India. Tom turned 77 on our trip, making it a birthday to remember, and has only travelled once in his life prior to this trip and that was a vacation to Mexico.
Mozambique is a beautiful country with unlimited lots of potential. Mozambicans are always so full of life and are so happy to see you and welcome you with open arms.  The spirit of Mozambicans is something that sticks with you for a lifetime. Mozambicans are happy, helpful, thankful and always looking for new opportunities to better themselves, their families and their lives. What always amazes me are how  truly selfless the people are, and while they lack many of the things we take for granted each and every day of our lives such as; running water, the ability to go to  store to purchase whatever we need just to name a few. They are always quick to make sure you have everything YOU need even if it means the shirt off their back. 
A big surprise for me when we arrived in Chimoio was that the main roads were paved! I wasn’t expecting this as these roads were unpaved and well traveled during my previous trips. What an huge difference the newly paved roads made  from the my previous trips last time wheren cars wereare swerving every two secondsconstantly to avoiding pot holes and facing traffic head on like a game of organized chicken.  During ourse 2 day visit in Chimoio we checked inup on the fish pond project whichthat was  started in my 2012 visit in partnership with the Rotary Club of Chimoio., As it turns out, iit was so successful the community was able to create a second fish pond one close by! We then toured the uUniversity (Universidade Pedagogica) and visited Nela Bettencourt’s school (Rotarian fro Chimoio) and while there we, also gave away 3 wheelchairs and sought out new partnerships. After those 2 days we made it to our final destination in Gondola (~30 minutes from Chimoio) with Carlos Guia and his family, my second home.
Below is aA quick recap of Rubatano Home Based Care  which is the organization I have partnered with since 2006. Rubatano Home Based Care has three centres in three communities;.
  1. Gondola (550 orphans)
  2. Amatangos (400 orphans)
  3. Nhamatanda (450 orphans)
All three care centres are home to one or more of the following items: care centres, vegetable gardens, fresh water, chicken coops, hostel for visitors, fields with maize or soy beans, sewing machine program, fish pond and .
Three times a week the volunteers visit their assigned group of orphaned and vulnerable children and in 2014 I had the opportunity to walk in the shoes of the volunteers for a day while visiting all the sponsored children (10 at the time) and it was so incredibly hot and tiring. I vowed after making that journey myself, to do something about it. These volunteers dedicate their lives to helping others when they have nothing themselves. It truly is inspirational to see. Bicycles were the answer to help these volunteers get from point A to point B in a reasonable amount of time and so we did just that with the support of the Rotary Club of Brantford, Rotary Club of Kenmore and some donations from friends we were able to purchase half the bikes in 2016 and while on our trip in 2017 we were able to purchase the other half to distribute. There are far more complications than just showing up to buy 30 bicycles, this is something we take for granted, going to the store, purchasing a bike and being able to ride off into the sunset with it. This is not how it works in Mozambique. You have to shop around for the best price, purchase the bicycles, then they have to be assemble because they don’t have that many in stock assembled.  When the bikes arrive they place the hardware over-top of the bubble wrap and cardboard, a lot of tires are flat, and in addition to all of the above they cannot leave without registering their bike or the police will take it away.  What would be a simple and pain free process for us is a great deal more in Mozambique.  But despite it all, the volunteers all have bicycles now and there is a fund for future repairs as well.
Each visit tow Mozambique I amn able to purchase bundles of clothing from monies raised and/or donated through various fundraisers and of course generous donations. These  bundles of clothing are purchased from the city ofy, Chimoio  and range from 100-300 items of clothing per bundle depending on the contents (pants, dresses, shirts) and are then re distributed to the children at all three centres. While it may be hard to believe, Tthe only time the children y get receive clothing like this is when I come, so I truly look forward to these days as much as the children do.
Another fun part of the trip that I introduced in 2015 is a fund called Random Acts of Kindness. This fund allows us to make decisions as we see fit on the trip. For example, with these monies Tom was able to provide running water to Carlos and his family in their bathroom with a toilet that flushes, a tap on the sink as well as a shower head and tap. Six families received soap, rice, oil, clothes and capulana’s (a type of a sarong) just a name a few of the things this fund was used for.
Needless to say this was another incredibly successful visit all.  All 4 sustainable projects; the chicken coop, fish pond, and sewing machine project as well as the sponsorship program are operating and operating successfully.
Its people like yourselves who have made such a difference in the lives of these children and families, thank you Rotary for your constant and continued support over the past 12 years. If your club doesn’t already invest in sending a candidate to RYLA or SLAPSHOT I highly encourage you to begin this truly rewarding journey. If it weren’t for the Rotary Club of Brantford to support me and believe in me none of this would be happening today.
Rotary changed my life.