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Reality check

“I’M KNOWN FOR MY ‘TIZZY FITS’. These are the times when I tend to be reactive rather than proactive. I can be perfectly fine for months and even years on end and then I will feel down and tired, dissatisfied and fed up and altogether sick and tired of the same old same old struggles – and I tend to express it badly to the frustration of my dear husband who wonders how he can ever make me happy and keep me that way.

I had one of these ‘tizzy fits’ the other day as we were packing to move from Chimoio in central Mozambique to Nacala in northern Mozambique. It is near the sea and so incredibly hot and humid. The house we are moving to is in fact a one bedroomed cottage and there is no running water to the property.

That night I had a bad fall in the bath knocking my head and landing very heavily on my coccyx, bringing me back to earth with a bump – literally. After a day’s delay for me to recover, we headed north in two vehicles, an old rusty pickup and a small saloon car. The roads are good in some places and terrible in others, so along with car troubles and getting stuck in the mud, it took 22 hours to travel 1400 km at an average of 63km/h, which as you can imagine is totally tedious and exhausting. What hit me most however, was the life of the rural people that we passed along the way and the conditions they live in. In all reality, I have nothing to complain about.

There is always someone walking large distances – very old, very young and every age in between. Small children walk kilometres to get to school where they will often find school is closed for the day. While driving I saw little boys all alone and also children carrying babies walking on the side of the main road with monster trucks flying by.

Collecting water and firewood is a daily chore, both of which take several hours and much hard work. This is generally considered the work of the women along with child-bearing and care, cooking, cleaning, clearing land for crops and harvesting!

In one area I saw several girls about age seven or eight, unwinding a cloth to expose their naked bodies, which I presumed they were offering to passersby. Had I only seen it once, I would think they were playing the fool, but after passing a few girls along the way I started to think of the belief here that having sex with virgin girls can cure AIDS. Could it be one way the families have found to make money?

Sick people have many kilometres to reach a clinic. Usually, they don’t even attempt the trip until a witch doctor has failed to heal them. When full of fever or in pain the last thing anyone wants to do is walk long distances to a clinic to find they are out of medication anyway and that no one really cares.

The houses are made of mud with no electricity or running water and when the rains come in force, many will collapse. When the rains do not come then a year of hunger will follow with many dying during this time. Despite all of this, the Mozambiquans still have an amazing sense of humour.

When I see the reality of another’s life and compare it to my own, I realise that I have so much to be grateful for. Still the tizzy fits come from time to time but when all is back in perspective, I am able to carry on the race set before me with vigor and enthusiasm.

By Sue Fosse

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