In May of 2015 thirty students and faculty from Weber State University accompanied David and Charlotte Hamblinto Boane, Mozambique where they completed the building of the Boane Women's Center.
Self Reliance: Helping Women Start and Grow Businesses
In early 2015 NPAU started using The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ self reliance group-course “Starting and Growing My Business” at the Boane Women’s Center. This straightforward course is meant to be for people from any walk of life, and has been delightfully successful with the hardworking women around the center. Boane is a mere 45 minutes away from Mozambique’s capital city, Maputo, so—while enjoying certain more rural aspects—this burgeoning municipality is also close to the industry and commerce of the big city. Due to this area’s dynamic growth coupled with its proximity to the capital, small businesses are an appreciable asset to the life of any woman trying to help support her family.
These Self Reliance business courses run for twelve weeks and ground students in the foundational principles of good business: keeping records, calculating profits, saving money, attending to customers’ needs, being careful of client credit, knowing how much money to borrow to grow your business, etc. Small groups of up to eight women learn with a full book, accompanying videos, real-life assignments on the path to improving or starting their own business, and group cooperation. Since its inception, we have noticed that the class is properly rigorous, and the participating women have responded with dedication.
Out of the two class cycles completed so far, twelve women have fulfilled all requirements and received a diploma. This diploma also comes with a 3,000 meticais loan (roughly $80) to help each student to either grow the business they already have or start the business they have planned out. However beneficial this small loan might be to the women, they have all seen the benefit of the knowledge gained from the course. Here’s what Beatriz said:
Here’s what Cristina, who sells second-hand clothing, said:
We consider this business course to be central to NPAU’s efforts to fulfill the Boane Women’s Center’s core rationale: teaching women to provide for their families instead of providing for their families. We look forward to following the progress of this course’s graduates, and expect many more women to follow in their footsteps.
When David Hamblin visited the women in Boane late 2014, they told him that they wanted to learn culinary arts. David and his wife found the petition a bit unexpected but were committed to honoring the local women’s ownership in the Center; they wanted the women to be a big part of deciding the programs of their own education.
Since February 2015, Professor Júlia Manhique has been leading the way, forming a curriculum in which the women learn the culinary arts by actively baking and cooking the kinds of foods that are most marketable within the ambit of small business. The top-sellers are foods that most people don’t know how to make, like quality cakes and elaborations on finger foods for parties. Equally successful are savory dishes sellable to local businesses’ employees for lunchtime. The classes have even enjoyed some cultural exchange with the American NPAU volunteers, learning to make things like guacamole, American-style cakes, banana bread, and the Brazilian sweet, brigadeiro.
Professor Júlia runs a tight ship, and the disciplined women adhere to strict health standards, find economical ways to purchase the ingredients, write down all recipes, take regular exams and are encouraged to try their new skills out at home. It’s always fun to celebrate the advent of a new dish with singing and clapping. So far there are seven graduates, and all of these same women also participated in the Self Reliance business class and are therefore even better prepared to use their new repertoire of skills to help support their families with their business ventures.
Sewing is another of the marketable trade-skills that the women themselves have requested to learn. In Mozambique it is very popular to have clothing custom-made, so a woman with a sewing machine and the skills to use it is a woman who is financially empowered; the sky is her limit. No Poor Among Us also uses the Sewing Program to produce the school uniforms for the Sponsored Girls, paying women for labor when they are able to produce quality uniforms.
In early 2015 NPAU purchased three industrial sewing machines that would last a long time and already had one domestic machine for the women to learn on. Since then the Center has added two surge machines in order to increase the quality of the pieces made. Professor Dulce Sitoe, who is a business owner and clothing designer, is the Boane Women’s Center sewing teacher. She has ample experience and know-how since her business is centered on tailor-made African-style dresses and other clothing.
The initial class teaches women the basics of sewing, and they are expected to be able to make quality school uniforms for girls; that means they will know how to make pants, button-up shirts and pleated skirts. Once they pass this first class, they are authorized to come into the Center to use the sewing machines for their own projects. Subsequent classes will teach women more advanced skills so that they are able to make anything they imagine.
School Uniform Program
Since 2008 we have been giving out about 50 uniforms a month to girls in need. We now have four working sewing machines, and many of the women have been taught how to sew. We will continue teaching sewing at our women's center in Boane. In the past we have given out uniforms to about 15 different schools, but we are now concentrating our efforts on four schools so we can track student progress more effectively.
After Charlotte had given uniforms to about 30 girls, they wrapped her in traditional Mozambique clothing and gave her a mat for sleeping. They said that they keep a mat in their houses for their grandmothers to sleep on and that Charlotte was their grandmother.
Complete School Sponsorship Program
"I thank you in the name of my parents. I didn't know how I was going to study. I didn't have a school uniform, exercise books, text books, pen or pencil. I will thank you as long as I live." — Sara
"I want to be a healthy, educated Mozambican woman free from HIV" — Amina
These statements are from high school girls in our complete sponsorship program. Girls in this program are sponsored by different individuals for $180 a year. This money goes towards two uniforms, books, school supplies, book bags, and school fees. We started with 12 girls in 2009 and have grown to 88 girls currently being sponsored in this program.
Mid 2015, NPAU also hired Mela Cumbe to take over the logistics of the program. She not only makes sure that girls get their books and supplies and that sponsors get letters and pictures but also checks up with the sponsored girls, ensuring they are able to overcome any challenges they may have.
Sponsors receive a picture of their student, grade updates, as well as notes and letters. Currently our teenage granddaughter has been sponsoring two girls on her own; she says it is extremely rewarding to be able to help in this way.
The directors of the two schools where we have this program are very supportive and grateful. They say that this program is making a dramatic difference in the lives of these girls.
Mackenzie Foutz among grateful students at the Fourth of October Secondary School; moments after she took their individual photos in May, 2014
Sponsoring a girl is only $180 a year - just $15 a month! Join the fun today!
Boane Computer Lab
When No Poor Among Us commenced with the Boane Women’s Center’s programs and projects in early 2015, the Boane Secondary School principal, Felizardo Chavango, asked if some of the Center’s space could be used for a new government-mandated information technology class, and need the space they did. The school’s I.T. teacher, Sebastião Chemane, started teaching classes of fifty kids at once, but we noticed that he did so without any computers. Meanwhile, the American interns at the Center, headed by David Beesley, had begun very small computer classes with a select few students using the few laptops NPAU then had, and the kids caught on very quickly, so the Hamblins decided to expand with the help of Alex Spencer.
Spencer, a recent computer engineering graduate from BYU, brought over twenty brand-new Google Chromebooks in June of 2015 and worked with Sebastião to securely set them up at the Boane Women’s Center. NPAU ended up building a separate room for the computers at the Center and hiring Filipe Jaime to head the project, with Sebastião Chemane as the lead technician.
Now the school has free access to the computers for their I.T. classes, and Filipe and Sebastião organize monthly computer classes for anyone interested. Courses like these are in high demand in Mozambique since most seek hands on, affordable education where a formal university education is only possible for a select few, and the Center offers the classes for a fraction of the rate other schools charge. When there aren’t any classes, students can also pay to use the computers, which have excellent internet access, all for an accessible rate that is much lower than the internet cafe’s in town.
With computers being such an integral part to the career futures of so many Mozambicans, the Boane Computer Lab is sure to have an immeasurably positive impact on the lives of not only Boane Secondary School students, but all women and men in the Boane area as well.
Boane Secondary School Library
In 2012, we learned that one of the schools we had been donating uniforms to had no books -NO BOOKS AT A SCHOOL? The school director told us that they were the forgotten school. We were able to raise enough money to build a library onto the school and fill it with books. We also provided them three computers, a printer, as well as a TV and DVR so they can watch educational videos
This was certainly one of our most successful projects the library is always full of eager readers. The students check books out with their school card but must us them at the school.
Ever since constructing a library for the Boane Secondary School, No Poor Among Us has enjoyed a healthily constructive relationship with the school—the land that the women’s center is built on belongs to the school district—and, since NPAU sponsors girls at this school, we couldn’t help but notice that it only served grades eight through ten. Why? Because there simply aren’t enough classrooms. Once students graduate tenth grade, they are forced to look for another secondary school with enough room for them to study. In Mozambique, eleventh and twelfth grades are crucial because they are so heavily focused on preparation for higher education.
Felizardo Chavengo, the school’s principal, said that six more classrooms would be adequate to install 11th and 12th grades, and NPAU has currently achieved funding to build another school block of six classrooms. Devin Gilbert, the first director of the Boane Women’s Center, said, “I wish you could have seen the look on Felizardo’s face when I told him that we had already raised enough money to build the six classrooms!” What a blessing this will be to the community and children of Boane.
While these six new classrooms will be adequate for the addition of two new grades, they will not be ideal. An identical building to the one soon to be constructed will eventually be needed, and NPAU is optimistically working towards raising the funds for this future addition. Felizardo is very pleased and has no doubt that the government will supply the needed teachers once the classrooms are completed. Now the many girls we sponsor at this school will enjoy a much easier transition into 11th and 12th grade.
Sewing For Girls
Girls are also included in the Boane Women’s Center sewing classes. They learn the exact same skills and pieces as the women do since the sewing classes are usually a mix of women and girls at the same time. This creates a vibrant atmosphere where all have a chance to learn from one another. NPAU has learned that sewing classes are in high demand amongst school-age girls as they have come over in droves asking to enroll upon learning that women from their community were learning at the Center.