... In my new position, it quickly became clear that I couldn’t defend something that I was not convinced about. Each one of us has our own conscience that we should follow. Judging and criticizing doesn't make anyone grow. Therefore, I left that company 6 months later. During that time, I had witnessed a reality that was completely contradictory (in both good and bad perspective) from where I came. The most flagrant atrocity was the everyday reality for the children. I met many people who talked about change, but very few ever "walked their talk" . Lots of words, tons of paperwork and I finally found myself saying, “Stop talking, start acting!”
Eventually, I did manage to quit my job and wrote a proposal for a Children’s Home that I then submitted to the Mozambican government. It would have been accepted, but the only issue was that I did not have an organization to back me up, nor a work contract to support my intent. It was only me and my good will. “Well, let’s do it!”, I decided. I went back to Switzerland, sold all my belongings, set up the non-profit organization called ASEM (ASsociation en faveur de l’Enfance Mozambicaine), and 3 months later I was back in Beira, ready to begin. During the following years, together with an amazing professional local staff, we set up two Children's Homes in Beira, one in Gorongoza and another one in Vilankulo. As an African proverb says: “Alone you go fast – together we go far!”
I used to spend about 4 hours a day interacting with the children at the Homes, providing psychological support and being a Mom, another 2 hours a day were spent working in the streets to help resolving problems related to the homeless children living there, additional 4 hours a day were spent taking care of my own children and another 7 to 10 hours spent on administration, fundraising and resolving daily issues. Yes, your calculation is right! 365 days a year between 15 and 23 hours per day for over 10 years.
Today, I am supported by (in part) the same amazing, local team that I started with on the ground in Beira, Gorongoza and Vilankulo.
This allows me to currently focus on:
· Psychological support for children and young adults.
· On the job training for staff members.
· Supervising the financial management and general development of ASEM internationally.
· Building up micro-economic activities in Mozambique together with our team to assure future economic self-sufficiency for ASEM Mozambique and its beneficiaries.
· Fundraising & Public Relation.
Going to the Gallery, is away for you to walk with me on my African journey, standing 30 plus years.
In January 2001, I contracted malaria falciparum. For more than one month, I was in a coma in a hospital in Johannesburg, were I received dialysis, artificial respiration, etc. My kidneys and liver functioned at only 3%, and my lungs at 1%.
I survived this terrible disease and I'm miraculously 100% recovered. I will never forgot my "Near Death" experience.
Documentary by Andrea Canetta on Swiss TV (RTSI)
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