Denise Kouri (Project Strategic Advisor) and Don Kossick (Communications and Engagement Advisor) returned last week from a month-long visit to Mozambique. We interviewed them in Saskatoon to catch some highlights of their trip.

What was the purpose of your visit?

This is the project’s last year of operation, having received a second no-cost extension. We hadn’t been to Mozambique since before covid, and were eager to see progress with “our own eyes”, as one of the team described it. Don was set to do some follow-up training on community economic development with our team, and carry out assessments of the community-based microprojects. Denise was to work with the team in Mozambique on compiling material about the project’s activities and successes, including doing some follow-up on the Maternal Experience Study and the Sexual Health Toolkit.

Didn’t Cyclone Freddy happen when you were there?

Yes, the most striking thing that happened was totally unplanned. We were in Inhambane Province when Cyclone Freddy hit – we were very close to its major pathway. We saw the devastation created — the destruction of homes and community infra-structure such as water supply and sanitation. Crops were beaten down, trees fell. Roads were flooded by rain and blocked by fallen trees, becoming almost impossible to navigate. Schools and health facilities lost parts of their roofs.

Since then, we have been doing fund-raising through the Mozambique Building Fund. Damages to Mozambican homes, crops and schools will depend on donations from international organizations.  Our Mozambican colleagues have outlined some priority areas needing critical help. Being able to plant crops – corn and peanuts – was one of the first priorities, and being able to access the seed to do so. If anyone wants to donate, please go to www.CanadaHelps.org and choose Mozambique Building Fund.

What were the highlights of your visit?

The best part of the visit was seeing how engaged the community members were with the project. And how the different elements of the activities were integrated – community health training, microprojects, women’s empowerment, support to maternal health, and new health system infrastructure and training.

We were gratified to hear from so many women in the leadership of the health committees and the microprojects.

It was good to see the progress with the Maternal Experience Study, which is both teaching us a lot and helping us deepen our community and health system impact – and the progress with the Sexual Health Toolkit.

While there is still lots to do and so many needs remain, we recognize that we are moving in the right direction. Moving into the last year of the project, formal assessments will be done, but our visit was an indication of how hard and well our team has worked – in the communities and the health system.

Our team has so many skills and so much energy. It was a pleasure to work with them throughout the month.

Viva!