I am sitting on the balcony of our apartment in the third floor of a building in Maputo.
The clock just hit midnight, it is dark, and the temperature is just around 20 degrees celsius. The rain season is here, so there’s frequent showers all around. Billy Joel sings out of a speaker, dragging the last of the illness out of my body. This last week has been spent mostly in bed, with a fever and a throat infection. And despite the fact that I am back to enjoying life in Mozambique, the long hours awake in bed this past week, the fever making hot nights hotter, kept me longing for home.
I asked myself why I had signed up for this. Why had I left all of my family and friends to go to a place where I didn’t know anyone, how things worked or even how to speak the language? These were questions I had, of course, asked myself before I decided at all to leave, but as I layed there, I couldn’t seem to recall the answers.
Now I am back in a healthy state of mind. And I am starting to recall the answers to these questions. And I thought I would share them with you.
Discrimination and racism comes from people looking at each other briefly, and then judging each other based on the little facts they think they know. They never really saw where the other guy or gal came from, how they are used to be doing things, and why they do things the way they do. We believe that the world will become a better place if we get to know each other for real. We look at each others food, hear each others language and see how we do things different from each other. Then we taste the food, ask each other why we do things how we do them, and try to learn these methods. Because if we take our time to really look, to learn and understand each other, then we can stop being afraid of one another. Then we can have a conversation, and finally understand that we’re really not as different as some people try to tell us.
So therefore we travel. I live in Maputo, and I have to do things the way they do things here. A lot is different and a lot is exactly the same as home. And the stuff that is different work just as well as our alternatives, they’re just adjusted to this place and these people. Then we learn from each other and get a deeper understanding of each others lives. Then it gets easier to communicate. And communication makes the world a better place. I see that Africa is not a giant savannah with lonely trees scattered in the distance, and poor people walking miles to get water for their kids. I see people living together in a country that is different, but still much more alike my own culture than i would have imagined when i first came here. And I get more and more integrated every day.
While some people travel to areas with a high poverty rate and help by bringing medicine, food and supplies, we are just learning to know each other. That is how we are going to get rid of all the hatred and misunderstandings that make it so hard for us to talk together. That is pretty much how we can fix the world. Not by looking at each others facebook walls, but by taking a real look into each others lives. Ignorance is often giving birth to fear and hatred between people. I can’t fix the world. But I can stop ignoring all the good stuff happening outside Norway and whatever the media doesn’t throws my way. This place has its own pop stars and fashion icons, its own talk shows and soap series on TV. I’m not here to save anyone. I am here to be saved from myself and the ignorance that overshadowed my knowledge of all the good things I never knew existed around the world.
Of Course you long for home once in a while! And that’s healthy. I have to say that I was so tired of home when I left Norway, so the fact that I sometimes miss it, is a good thing. I remember a short conversation I had with my mother when i was little. We were abroad on vacation, and the trip was coming to an end as I said to her:
- Mum, I am tired of being away. I want to go home now.
- That is why we go away sometimes. To give ourselves time to miss home. So that it will be good to return after a while!
Now, though, I am starting to like this place better and better. I wonder how much this place will feel like home as I am getting ready to return after such a long time here. I have “moved out” before, but always to schools where I’ve met others that also knew no one from before, and everyone got to know each other within a short period of time. Now I have come to a city where the people I get to know already have their lives, family and friends here. That means I am not automatically a part of a fellowship of people in the same situation as me. Me and Ingrid, as well as all the other MOVE-participants, have to start our own lives. We make our own friends and find out what to do with our lives in this new place. We take a part of society in the same way as the people who live here, and that is what makes it kind of hard, but it also fills our days with joy, meaning and purpose!
Far south in the continent of Africa lies a land called Mozambique. In Mozambique there is a big city named Maputo. A city where people are teachers, chefs and lawyers, and kids go to kindergarten. A city where the streets are named after old communists like Vladimir Lenin and Mao Tse Tung. A city where they have indian restaurants and Kentucky Fried Chicken side by side. A City where some people watch Game of Thrones, while some people watch The Walking Dead. A city where some people go to church on sundays, while others go to the beach.
Pretty much like home actually.