A Powerful Alliance
In early November, our Primeiras e Segundas program staff and community partners were extremely pleased to receive the visit of the CARE and WWF CEOs Helene Gayle and Carter Roberts, along with members of the CARE and WWF Boards and guests. The purpose of the visit was to provide an opportunity for these individuals to see the work of the CARE and WWF Alliance on the ground in Primeiras e Segundas, examine potential for building upon WWF efforts in Quirimbas, and more concretely define the depth and breadth of the Alliance effort.
It is no small achievement to bring together for nearly a week the individuals that composed this group – all very active and successful professionals committed to the ideals of philanthropy and giving of themselves to contribute to the making of a better world. Each of them brought unique and extremely valuable perspectives from previous experience, from business acumen, and from the ability to see beyond the immediate to a clear common sense of being both touched and humbled by the experience.
Initial meetings in Maputo, attended by representatives from the Danish, American and French Embassies as well as the Ministry of Environment and the private sector, sparked discussion on upcoming challenges, threats and opportunities for Mozambique. These included concerns regarding the immense coal reserves in the western part of the country possibly leading to the dredging of the Zambezi River for exportation purposes, and resulting implications including waste deposit leaching linkages with advancing climate change processes already drastically affecting Mozambique and its vulnerable environment and population. Further issues highlighted included the lack of integrated policies to address the need to reduce pressure on highly sensitive environments, while promoting alternative income generating streams and access to markets for those people who are becoming increasingly poor and more vulnerable and growing in numbers in Mozambique.
These issues formed a “mental backdrop” for the field visits that were then carried out by the group: first to the island of Abdule Rahmane and the Maziwane village off the coast of Angoche, then to the Angoche Administration Office to participate in a feira held to demonstrate the diverse and extremely beneficial results of project interventions (soil conservation methods, use of appropriate fish nets, fish drying techniques, village savings and loans, amongst others), and finally to the Island of Ibo in the Quirimbas National Park, where the group had the chance to share in the celebration of the official demarcation of the Arrimba no-take fishing zone initiated by community members themselves. As the visitors joined the community celebrating the event, they were greeted by hundreds of women, men and children dancing out to the sea, singing and dancing to receive them, bestowing upon the men traditional garb, and decorating the women’s faces with musiro, the lovely sun screen mixture that heightens a woman’s beauty while protecting her face from the sun.
Conversations while aboard boats churning their way across the high seas, seated beside the camp fire, stargazing, navigating through the dark nights, or over shared food and drink centered on questions such as: What can we as the Alliance aspire to? What can we dream but also achieve? How do we focus on the intrinsic link between the environment and people’s needs, while ensuring a nurturing of both for the future? How do we bring our immense wealth of skills and experience together in a way that can have the most positive impact for the many people of northern Mozambique and the beautiful yet fragile environment they inhabit?
As one of visitors later wrote, “Our experiences tested our will, our courage, our patience and our passion to believe in something greater than ourselves. The WWF and CARE Alliance speaks to the essence of that passion because we all must become more responsible caretakers of our food chain because in the end, both wildlife and people need to eat! We are our sisters and brothers keepers.”
We are working on making this vision a more articulate one – one that is bound by a ten year timeframe with achievable and realistic but visionary objectives built upon our unique premise of inter-relatedness and co-dependency. A small team will be meeting in Maputo in early December to work on harnessing our visions and dreams into a tangible, actionable plan that resonates with our current work, the view of Mozambique’s near future on the horizon and our collective commitment and effort to support this plan.
Many thanks to one of visitors who so rightly said, “We should also thank the natural elements, because surely ocean, sand, dirt, stars and sun brought us together in a way that no conference room ever could!”
For more photos from the visit, please click here to watch the Flickr slideshow
Comments, feedback and recommendations are welcome!