Mozambique | Stacie Scott
Home: Louisville, Kentucky
My community, Metangula, is in the northern province of Niassa. I was a community health services promoter for 22 months, working in the community health center organizing HIV patient files. I formed an English club, an English theater youth group, and a Grassroot Soccer youth group. I also trained high school students in HIV/AIDS and malaria prevention.
When we were evacuated, I left behind my adored Mozambican family, friends, and students. I had to leave behind my two cats, whom I love dearly and planned on bringing home with me.
I left behind the most extraordinary community. Metangula sits on Lake Niassa, the third largest lake in Africa. The rainy seasons fills the mountains with lushness. It’s a special and beautiful place.
During my service, I didn’t complete any large scale projects or grants. I certainly questioned my ability to have an impact and whether my activities were necessary. What I learned is that the size of the project does not determine its importance. Fostering positive relationships with youth and community members — being a trustworthy, honest, reliable person — makes a difference. If I build positive relationships with youth, they are more likely to participate and to carry the messages I teach, then share that knowledge. In the grand scheme of things, this is what matters — and this is what people need the most, no matter where we are in the world.
In the grand scheme of things, this is what matters — and this is what people need the most, no matter where we are in the world.
After the conclusion of my Grassroot Soccer program, one of my students, Inacio, came looking for me at the hospital. He handed me a typed document that had been folded twice and stapled shut.
“What’s this?” I asked.
“It’s for Tia Stacie to read at home.”
Inacio had written a letter thanking his colleagues within the program, explained the implications of HIV in his community, and noted what he learned from the curriculum. The ultimate paragraph was titled “special thanks,” for Tia Stacie: for the doors that I open for the group — and that in return, the group loves me greatly because I am a “mother” always on their side.
Sunrise in Namaacha, where Stacie Scott and other Volunteers trained before beginning service. Photo by Stacie Scott
A couple days later, I found Inacio in his normal hangout spot. “Inacio, you are a very special man,” I said. “Do you know why?” He smiled and looked away bashfully. I explained that my job here can be difficult, but his acknowledgment of the program did my heart so much good. It is due to my students that I charge ahead even on the toughest days. “You all do far more for me than I could ever do for you,” I added. Of course, he disagreed and only continued to thank me more. “I am a transformed man now,” he insisted.
Many community members told me during my farewell, “We are already accustomed to you being here!” Given our abrupt departure, it is even more important to return to show our commitment.
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