Why Am I Here?

It is so difficult to adequately describe my life here in Mozambique. It is wild, beautiful, verdant and also heart-breaking. The people here are so open and caring. They have a communal attitude, so everything is shared. They simply do not understand the American desire for personal space and boundaries.

There are deep, systemic problems here. Poverty, lack of education, rampant HIV and malaria are so common here that it is simply a way of life. Everyone knows someone...many someones... who have been affected by death.

Yet, there is an openness and attitude of service that could be a model to the rest of the world. They may not have much, but what they have is easily and readily shared.

I feel honored to be serving at my age now. In many ways, the Peace Corps is for the young and passionate, and yet that idealism can also lead to frustration and burnout. I think any volunteer who chooses to serve has thoughts of changing the world into a kinder and more equitable place. We come here full of dreams and ideals and the desire to be a model for the community. Then, you get here and you discover that there are absolutely problems, but the answer isn't always what we thought it was.

We design projects in the hope that we will touch the heart and mind of someone. We try to integrate by living in our communities, socializing with our hosts, embracing their culture and learning their language. Sometimes it feels as though I am trying to start a campfire with damp leaves. There is a lot of smoke, a flicker of flame, but nothing much happens...until it does.

Another volunteer recommended a book called The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. Essentially, the tipping point is the moment when an idea or behavior finally crosses the threshold and spreads. That is why we do what we do. We know that eventually, we will touch the right people and situations, and change will happen.

It is this thought that keeps me motivated. It is this thought that flits through my mind when I see a spark in the eyes of a young child. It is hope and possibility, and it is why I am here.

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