Community Development
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From the very beginning, the development of the local community has been one of the major aims behind Mbuna Bay. Apart from creating employment opportunities, the lodge continuously offers various income-generating possibilities and has been implementing several projects in the areas of health, education, agriculture and community empowerment.

 

                                                                  

Income Generation

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Mbuna Bay Retreat is the only employer in Nkholongue and the neighboring communities. In 2007, 45 people from the village were employed for the construction of the lodge and have since earned a permanent income for their families, which total several hundred people. They have been trained by experienced carpenters and builders of the lake region.

 

       

Most of these employees proceeded to be trained for different tasks required for the running of the lodge and are now employed as cooks, kitchen aides, waiters, housekeeping personnel and farmers.

The lodge offers plenty of other income opportunities to villagers interested in raising their poor living standard. We locally buy timber, bamboo, grass and bricks for construction as well as pottery for kitchen use and decorations and fire wood for our pizza oven and for the open fireplace at the beach.
We frequently offer “ganho-ganho” possibilities (task work) to people with various problems like lack of money for school fees, books and uniforms, urgent trips to visit sick family members, or to mothers abandoned by their husbands.

In our lodge handicraft shop villagers can sell their artifacts on their own account.


Realized Projects

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Based on a scientific study on the socio-economic situation of Nkholongue village, the lodge identified and completed several community projects during the construction phase, from 2007 through 2008.

 

 

 

The construction of a primary school for 300 children

A bridge connecting the northern and southern parts of the village

The rehabilitation of the village well

Alphabetization and English courses for the community

Medical aid and transportation to Metangula hospital

A malaria awareness campaign

A women’s group producing traditional pottery sold at the lodge handicraft shop

Agricultural training aimed at the improvement and diversification of the local food production

Pilot projects with simple technology: Solar driers for the conservation of mangoes and other fruit

The distribution of sleeping mats, sleeping bags and blankets to all children up to the age of 12 years as a humanitarian project. All of these projects have been entirely financed by the lodge and private donors.

The Nkholongue Development Initiative (NDI)

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With more guests visiting Mbuna Bay, and therefore more money flowing in thanks to an increase in generous donations by friends the lodge, in April 2009 we established the private “Nkholongue Development Initiative” (NDI). NDI has henceforth been run on a voluntary basis by two senior volunteers. In close collaboration with the community they were able to realize an additional number of successful projects:

 

 

Training of local HIV activists in collaboration with “Estamos”, Lichinga

Establishment of village school and health commissions

“Happy Widows Group” consisting of old widows, who are being taught different types of handicrafts

Transformation of an old village house into a community center, which serves as a meeting place, library, learning space, tools rental and course center for alphabetization, English and Portuguese

Introduction of new vegetables and the plantation of village trees

Construction of a health post for the population of Nkholongue and five neighboring villages, with the aid of a grant from the U.S. Embassy

Training of local health activists (APEs, 2 men and 2 women), who have expertly been running the health post since its inauguration in early 2011

Community Empowerment

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Believing in “helping people to help themselves” from the very beginning, we have  tried to involve the population in the planning, realization and control of projects up to the gradual handing over of the overall responsibility for village innovations:

The local school is now being closely monitored by a School Commission that has introduced school uniforms and is doing all they can to motivate parents to send their children to school. They help the teachers to solve problems and assist with the yearly procurement of school materials.

A Health Commission is keeping a watchful eye on the busily frequented Health Post. They observe that the APEs respect the opening hours, that a certain standard of cleanliness is being kept and that the flow of medical supplies from the District Hospital is assured.

In the Community House, which is run by a local woman and a man, school children find all the schoolbooks they cannot afford themselves. There is also a library with all kinds of books – historical, geographical or just stories in Portuguese and also in the local language Nyanja. From our lodge shopping trip to Lichinga, we usually bring a week’s editions of daily newspapers which are being read eagerly.

In various other fields village life in Nkholongue has improved considerably since Mbuna Bay was started:

Four small shops have opened and sell basic items, for which people before used to walk eight hours.

The lake fishermen own more and better canoes and bigger nets, allowing them to make bigger catches.

A majority of people now sleep on mattresses and have warm blankets.

Men transport rice and maize bags with bicycles that before their wives and daughters had to carry on their heads.

    Shared cell phones facilitate communication in this particularly remote area. There is a battery loading station at the community house.

All in all the community has grown together and the relationship between village and lodge has stayed open, friendly and cooperative

Associação Chisangalalo

The latest step in community empowerment is the formation of the 10-member association Chisangalalo that will be officially registered and recognized by the government of Mozambique and will have the right to open a bank account. The members (including three women) have been elected in a secret ballot on the 9th of June 2012. The application is currently going through different stages of bureaucracy all the way down to Maputo. We’ll keep you posted!