The World Around Us

My passionate colleagues

Country: Mozambique by Lisette


Macamo, me and Nathaniel.

Boa tarde!

It is time to write about my work and my fabulous colleagues after I’ve been here two months and worked for one month. I owe much to them for constantly making the effort to speak English, as my horrible Portuguese is far from helpful in an office environment. Being able to take a chapa to work, greet everyone and ask about their weekend isn’t sufficient to tackle some of the daily issues we’re grappling with.

So, if you’ve been reading bits and pieces of this blog, you have probably read the introduction about VSO and ARISO and about why I am here. But since coming to work, there’s so much more that I have learned about the organization and its clientele. For starters, our primary clientele are prisoners. There’s much I am learning about prisons in general and in Mozambique in particular. Social media has been a huge help as formal literature about this topic is hard to come by.

The compound outside Maputo where our office is located.

Secondly, I am learning about ARISO itself: its programs, the research just carried out etc. Most of the information is in Portuguese so I am either reading s-l-o-w-l-y or I am translating it to crappy English. And of course I have been learning about their request for a volunteer. With a position as Organizational Development Adviser it is a big bonus that the parameters have not been set too sharply. Together with my colleagues, we are discussing my role and where my experience and skills are most beneficial for the next couple of months.


For now, it seems we’re going to concentrate on communications. We want an actionable three-pronged communication strategy that helps to disseminate information in an organized manner, flows over into resource development and focuses on the tools. It’s going to be fun! I expect a lot of work will go into developing (online) communication templates, backgrounders, and so forth. Getting to know the partner organizations and donors is high on the list in order for my work to become effective. Eu amo isso! (I love it)

The hidden entrance to our office.

Since being here, I have been impressed with Mozambique, my colleagues and their incredible knowledge. My colleagues are not only experts; they are passionate about helping prisoners settling back into their lives after serving their sentence by supporting them in prison. It is this passion that really got me hooked to working with them and discussing issues that I, as a Westerner am not (or only slightly) aware of. It is a unique chance to learn more about Mozambican lifestyles and traditions as well as basic human rights that I take for granted.

Building relationships is key and sharing experiences, values and stories are very important. Slowly the adjustment is taking place in me. Practicing my Portuguese with my colleagues is an ideal excuse to get to know each other. Life in Mozambique is not as fast as we’re accustomed to in Canada or in the Netherlands and getting to know each other is considered opportune to get work done. So while at times I feel a certain task could be done sufficiently without having all the information, I am obviously incorrect.

Até falamos próxima vez!