Farming, not frolicking, in Mozambique

Written by Jackie Bischof
August 3, 2007

When students from Wits travel to Mozambique for ten days, it’s usually for the beaches, the parties and the diving. Free from the responsibilities of university and crazy Jo’burg life, Mozambique is a place to play in.

But with 54% of the country living below the poverty line, it’s not so easy for some to ignore the countries economic problems and hit the beach bar.

During the July holiday’s, the Wits Volunteer Programme (WVP) sent 16 university students (eight from Wits and eight from Eduardo Mondlane University in Maputo) to Hokwe, a rural community 300 kilometres north of Maputo.

Pairing university students with community members, the Wits Volunteer Programme encouraged the students to skip the beaches, drop the booze, pass the babes by and become empowered by working with community members for a week.

The programme was sponsored by WVP and SAMIGOS, an organization of former Mozambican exiles. It is now in its fifth year.

Students spent a week working on community farms, helping with farming and agriculture, running HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns, and doing career guidance with high school learners. They were responsible for the planning of the trip and their activities during the week.

Thabo Putu, Programme Coordinator of Community University Partnerships (CUPS) said that the trip’s primary aim was to “expose young people to the challenges other people have” within the Southern African community. Community members and students learnt from each other in a mutual exchange of information and skills.

Volunteer Rob Shongwe, a second year BSc student said that he was impressed by the farming skills of the Hokwe community, where most farmers are woman. He was also inspired by the dedication of the school students.

In January, eight Wits students and eight Mozambican students will participate in a similar programme at the Mooiplaas community in Mpumalanga. If you are interested in getting involved with this programme, or other WVP initiatives visit http://web.wits.ac.za/AboutWits/Entities/CUPS/WVP/.

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