It’s been a long time since I added a post and it’s not that Okay?Okay! hasn’t been on my mind. It’s just that, honestly, I don’t know where to start. The last three months have been a rollercoaster ride of great highs and real lows.
I’ve had 5 visitors come visit me and I’ve done some fantastic traveling; through Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and back. And while I want to review all these great highlights, I am still struggling with how to write about the more serious moments. They are important too. It feels wrong not to address them or to pretend that my experience in Mozambique has not been shaped by some of the more sad realities of life and death in Africa.
The most serious news is that my counterpart passed away in June. Sonia was not only my main colleague in the arts and crafts sector at CARE, but she was also my next door neighbor and friend. Although we had the occasional communication breakdown and frustration, she was an asset to the SEED Project and was dedicated wholeheartedly to the improvement of rural women’s lives in Mozambique. We were all shocked by her sudden death and left reeling while the future of the arts sector seemed vulnerable and uncertain.
Sonia was only 33 years old. She had a 16-year-old son and a great fiancé. She was building a house and planning to open a store when the project ended next year. My heart sinks when I think of her family these days and I wonder how they are rebuilding their lives and coming to terms with this tragedy. I’m sure they miss her incredibly and there is no way to replace a mother or life partner, but I have found that Mozambicans are particularly stoic when it comes to loss. Every Mozambican I have met has experienced deep sorrow at some point in his or her life whether it was during the gruesome civil war or at the hands of HIV. But I am living in a country of survivors and deep misfortune is met with great courage and maturity.
Three months later, things here are strangely almost back to normal. I was a bit of a mess after Sonia’s first week gone – trying to figure what was done, what was not, and what responsibilities were to be divided and absorbed. In true African fashion her death was met with deep sympathy and a sense of realism and pragmatism – probably one of the more efficient transitions I’ve seen since I got here.
I think of Sonia often and still struggle to fully realize and understand that she is really gone. It is a surreal feeling to lose such a young friend, but I am ever grateful that she was apart of my life, even for a short time, and she will always be ingrained in my memories of Mozambique.