Africa 2012 Thoughts

Injustice and fog

Is it Thursday already? I obviously didn’t dance enough last weekend.

Tomorrow I’m moving to a new place. Leaving the kids that have become my siblings and their parents to live in a shared flat with a friend during my last two months here. It will be a good place to stay, but leaving the kids and the closest I have had to family life makes me very sad.

Work is exciting. Receiving a National Committee in the weekend and taking them on a field mission to Tete province on Monday. Everything is planned for, except the weather, there’s nothing we can do about the temperature that supposedly will be going up to 50 degrees Celsius. What does one even wear in weather like that?

Been thinking a lot about children lately, children and their options. Yesterday I thought about when we as 10 year olds would jump on our bikes and go far away to explore. Look at grasshoppers, buy fresh bread and a little plastic container of Nutella spread from the bakery, bike to the big water tower that looks like a UFO, find new playgrounds and little secret parks we didn’t know existed. The value of being able to be free, letting curiosity and fantasy show us new worlds and teach us things about ourselves we didn’t know, and about friendship.

There’s a 7 year old that spends a lot of time at a friend’s place here in Maputo. He watches TV for hours because it’s too dangerous for him to be outside playing after a certain hour. It’s not a safe neighbourhood and many of the kids could have a very bad influence on him. I frankly don’t know of any neighbourhood here in Maputo that actually could be considered safe for a 7 year old. But anyway, the boy sits there, and you can almost see him slowly melting away into that couch, bored but indifferent. I see a lot of children here that are just like that – indifferent and tired. Many of them hungry. Some smile while playing, and they are obviously having fun, but when they reach the limit of what is safe and possible, they have no further options. There are no places for them to run all that excessive energy off, no possibility to go beyond, strech realities, explore and let playfulness take over. All of this provided that they would have enough food in their bellies and energy in their bodies to do any of that. There are definitely no little secret parks anywhere nearby. Just a lot of indifference.

How many times have we not heard that children are sincere and happy with what they get, that children in poor countries have a better life because they can entertain themselves with a stick and a plastic bag instead of Playstation consoles? And sure, you do force innovation when there are no pre-fabricated toys available. But what is available? I can tell you what I’ve seen so far. Empty Coca Cola cans, broken bottles, car tires, garbage, pieces of wire. Stuff you can use to build a cool toy car and then burn to get a good fire and highly toxic fumes. I had a rat run over my feet the other day.

This is injustice in its simplest form. When there simply aren’t any options to sign your kid up for saxophone lessons, horseback riding or badminton if you’re not very rich, even if that might be the biggest dream and maybe hidden talent of the child. Right now in Sweden the kids are off from school for a week, we call it the autumn holiday and in sports and cultural centres all over my city there are free activities for children who would like to try out different things. I used to love that week. We would run around from place to place, meet new friends, sing karaoke, play badminton, talk about love in the girl-talk room, try out indoor climbing.. and one year I accidently found myself in a small dark room where some older kids from the card club taught me how to play the highly addictive cardgame bridge, luckily I forgot it after a week so it has had no further implications on my adult life.

So there’s all of that, and a thick, white fog in front of me that keeps me from seeing beyond 2 months from now. But it’s okay.

1 comment

  1. I like this post. In addition, some of the things that children get from tv/media is just as damaging.

    Goodluck with the move. Hugs.

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