Where do you live?
I live in Beira. A city in Central Mozambique on the south east coast of Africa.
What is it like where you live?
Well, Beira is a city that has beautiful old colonial buildings that are slowly falling apart. There are actually trees growing on the top floors of some of the buildings. It suffered a lot through the long war for Mozambican Independence and is just now starting to turn around a little. It is hot and tropical here most of the time (although this month is winter and it’s getting a little cold). There are women in colorful clothes selling bananas, papayas and pineapples on every corner and lots of little kids playing soccer. And the city is surrounded by beautiful fields full of corn, soregum, rice, and sweet potatoes.
How did you end up in Africa?
I ended up in Africa through school. I’m an anthropologist and I went back to school for a masters degree in public health and I got involved with some professors work for an organization here. They needed some help with their community health programs. I decided I would love to see Africa and love to work in Mozambique. I had worked for three years in Brazil so I already spoke Portuguese (the national language here). So I just packed up my stuff and came here. It has been a very good experience but very hard too…I’m very far from home.
What do you do there?
I am working on a project that involves community health and helping small organizations provide care to people who are too sick to leave their homes. Mostly this has to do with HIV, Tuberculosis, Cholera, Malaria and other sad diseases that effect people who don’t have access to clean water, good houses etc. Many are people who are sick from AIDS and can’t get to the hospitals to get drugs (drugs are now free for everyone here). We help these by training volunteers to take drugs to people, to help them with basic nursing care, and to try to get people to want to come into the hospital to get drugs. Many people are afraid of the hospital and prefer traditional medicine. We try to find out what people in different communities want, what their primary problems are, what kind of medicine they use, and how we can help them. We want to support all the things they are doing and also give them access to the medication and care at local hospitals. We are actually trying to do as little as possible…instead we are trying to help people be able to do what they think is important.
What is your favorite thing about your job?
My favorite thing about my job is when I feel like I’ve actually helped someone. Often I’m stuck in the city in meetings and I don’t get a chance to see if what we are doing makes a difference. When I can get out of the city and visit the villages, talk to people, see communities that are doing great projects, and see that they are getting better, and know that their children will have healthy parents and go to school…that is what makes me very happy.
What are you afraid of?
I’m afraid of rat poo. I’m not really afraid of the rats themselves. I’m afraid of the poo. I think it is because I grew up with my mom constantly worrying about getting hanta virus. I’ll stand by calmly as a rat runs across my feet but if I see any rat poo I’ll scream.
What is your favorite color? Why?
My favorite color is ruby. I like ruby because I once saw that it was the gem of my birth month (July) but it also goes really well with my dark hair. And it’s sparkly…I like sparkly!!
What is the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you?
The most embarrassing thing was tripping onto a bus. I had been waiting at a bus stop with tons of people. The bus finally came and I was one of the first to get on. Right when I was inside the bus I realized I had forgotten my sunglasses on the bench outside. I went pushing through the people trying to get on the bus, ran back to the bench, grabbed my sunglasses, and then sprinted back to the bus so that it wouldn’t leave without me. I was in such a rush to get back on the bus that I was running up the steps. As I passed the last step I got caught on it and tripped and literally went flying into the aisle of the bus, landing at the feet of all the people sitting there while all my stuff went rolling down the bus. I got up, straightened my clothes, gathered up all my stuff and then sat down. We sat there for fifteen minutes. The bus was on a lay-over. I sat there in silence, my face burning bright red, as everyone stared and giggled.
What is the worst thing you ever did as a kid?
The worst thing I ever did still makes me sad. I was playing with matches and hairspray (do not try this at home kids!!!) and I sprayed a potato bug with hairspray and lit it on fire. I then sat there horrified as it slowly burned up. I was so sad that I did that. I still am! I’m sorry little potato bug!
If you were a car, what kind of car would you be? Any vehicle, actually?
I think I would be a dune buggy. How fun would that be to have giant tires, feel the wind through your parts, and bounce around and get dirty? Yep…It would definitely be a dune buggy.
What is your favorite place to go and just enjoy life?
My favorite place to go and enjoy life is in the mountains. There are two places that I love a lot. One is in the Sierra Mountains in California just outside of a little town called Downiville and the other is in the Cascade Mountains outside of Seattle. There is a beautiful spot by Roslyn (a town famous for being part of the set of the TV show Northern Exposure). It has beautiful alpine pine trees, crystal clear streams and lots of bugs chirping (and I promise I don’t burn any of them). But the best best best is Sunday brunch with my sister and my friends…you wake up all sleepy and the first people you get to see are the ones you love the best…and there’s coffee!!!!!!
What is your favorite Roman numeral? Why?
Any roman numeral above XVII confuses me. I tried one time to sit down and memorize roman numerals up to 1,000 but then I got bored. When roman numerals involve C and M I’m totally lost. I think I’d like CVM, because here it stands for the Red Cross of Mozambique, but I have no idea if that is a number.