Friday, February 26, 2010

New Village Savings and Loans Program for Mozambique

Gaza Province, Mozambique

In January, I was able to travel to Xai Xai which is the Provincial capital of Gaza Province in Mozambique to our office there and train some of our staff on Village Savings and Loans (VSL)methodology. Project HOPE has been working in four districts there– Xai Xai, Chibuto, Chokwe and Guija through our USAID funded Orphans and Vulnerable Children(OVC) program where we have formed groups of OVC caregivers and given out loans (microcredit) to help them set up small businesses, expand existing ones etc. We combine these loan programs with health education.

What we are doing now, is using a different type of economic strengthening approach called savings and loans mobilisation, where groups of OVC caregivers are formed and they save their own money, which becomes a “loan fund” from which members of the group can apply for a small loan repayable back with interest to the group. This is also combined with comprehensive health education, covering topics such as HIV prevention, care and treatment, TB, Malaria, hygiene and sanitation, nutrition, legal rights of a child etc. Groups meet on a weekly basis and essentially support and encourage each other.

These two types of economic strengthening activities will then be compared to see which is more sustainable and effective in the longer-term.

We trained 11 promoters throughout the week on VSL methodology, how to teach health education and the importance of monitoring and evaluation, specifically how to conduct the crucial surveys that we do to measure the success of our project. We also included training on the history and work of Project HOPE around the world.

For me it was a good opportunity to get to know the staff better, try to understand some of the issues that they face in working in these difficult environments, and then try together to help problem solve. This was the first time that I have taught in Portuguese for about four years so each night I was exhausted, but the group told me I was understandable so that was good!

Xai Xai is also known for its beautiful beach, so after each day’s lessons we were all able to relax and enjoy each other’s company on the beach or watching the “Mambas” – Mozambique’s national soccer team play in the African Cup of Nations that was taking place then!

I am confident that over the next 6 months as this project gets up and running it will make a substantial difference in the people’s lives in the districts where we work. Check back to hear about how its going and to read some interviews from the participants.

Thanks for Reading

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Welcome to Project HOPE Mozambique

Project HOPE’s history in Mozambique, explaining more about our current programs that we are running, our dreams and visions for the future, and ways in which you can personally get involved. Let me start with a brief introduction:

Project HOPE first established its presence in Mozambique in 1997. Our head office is situated in the capital city, Maputo, and we have offices in Gaza Province in the south of the country and Zambezia Province in the North. We are currently working in 8 different districts in the two Provinces and have a total staff of 44 persons, of which 42 are of Mozambican nationality.

Over the past 13 years, Project HOPE has been involved in a number of projects from Maternal and Child Health programs, to Workplace HIV Prevention policy formation, to the installation of short wave radio systems in remote health posts aiming to reduce mortality rates through better communication, to Youth HIV Prevention and Economic Strengthening programs. In 2001 the Southern part of the country was extensively damaged during massive floods, to which Project HOPE responded and through generous donors was able to send $5 million of pharmaceutical and medical supplies to help in the relief efforts.

Currently Project HOPE is undertaking a 5 year USAID funded Orphan and Vulnerable Children’s Program to strengthen families who care for OVC through economic strengthening and health education activities (more to follow in future blogs.)

What does the future hold for Project HOPE here in Mozambique? As a well recognized Public Health NGO, the future looks bright. We have dreams to expand our programmatic focus into a number of new areas, drawing on experience from the Project HOPE worldwide family, as well as breaking ground into new Provinces and Districts where there is still great need in partnership with local and international NGOs as well as with the strong support of the Mozambican government.

Keep checking back for further updates!


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Combining South Africa, Mozambique and More Into One Blog

Stefan Lawson is currently serving as both Project HOPE's Country Director for South Africa and Interim Country Director for Mozambique. You can follow his his experiences in both countries with his new blog, Project HOPE in Africa.

Check back tomorrow for an update from Mozambique!