Good and bad news
During the week, Henrik and Martin had a lot of meetings with people from Handicap International and other organizations. Below, you can read Martin’s own account. All I know is that we have to manage to get 70 bikes ready for sale within 2 weeks. We have a deal with Brendon which runs a big dairy farm close by. The idea is for him to put a loan up for his employees, for a bike, which they can pay off with their income, in small rates.
We also had business meetings, which went on forever because there are still so infinitely many things to manage here. Unfortunately, we got some disheartening news from Baisikeli, as there is currently no money available to invest in a car for us. It was a hard blow for both Martin and me. It is still difficult to get around in Africa without a car, especially the procurement of materials; water and the like will be a strenuous project. On the other hand, we will get a hell of lot of exercise, and that, some may say, is a good thing!
On the picture the ambassador from Maputo and a lady from Danida. They all got a nice little bike-ride on our compound.
Mozambique or the moon?
On Sunday, Henrik and Martin went to Beira to meet with some people. They hired a taxi for the night which was to drive them the 260 km back and forth. On Monday, when they were coming home, we had the BIGGEST thunder storm I have ever experienced. It is simply unbelievable how much water can fall in the space of a few hours in this country. We were a little worried about Henrik and Martin, knowing that the road from Beira to Chimoio is just crap, riddled with huge craters and holes. If you did not know any better, you would think you were on the moon. The bumpy road, combined with a large body of water, can make it very difficult to arrive in the evening. The water completely covers up the holes and it is impossible to see where they are. The holes are so big that, that if you hit them too fast, they can tear the wheel shaft in pieces, leaving you with a completely wrecked car. It is not safe for people either; going river rafting in a deflated raft would be safer.
So while the others were in Beira. Rene, Per and I stayed home. One of those long dark nights, we got so bored that we build our own Risk Game. We used a picture from Google to do a EXACT copy (yeah right!) and polystyrene made it as game pieces.
Henrik, Martin and the NGO’s
Henrik and I went to Beira on Sunday evening and arrived at midnight. We were very tired after the trip, as we were shaken, not stirred; the bumpy conditions of the road to Beira had knocked our kidneys into our throats. It is kind of odd that the main road is in such a state, considering that Beira is one of the biggest ports in Mozambique and this road is the only way to and from. Hundreds of trucks have to come this way every day from both Zimbabwe and Malavi, as none of these countries have coasts. This is just typical for Mozambique.
We arrived in Beira at midnight and, amazingly hassle-free, we managed to find a decent hotel. Then we went out to chill and have a couple of beers. The drink was good but I’m pretty sure the bartender stole my wallet. To my luck and his loss, I was flat out and lost only my bank card. Comfortably nightcapped and minus one wallet, we headed back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep.
The next morning we were up, promptly at 6, because we had to meet with Handicap International at 7. We hopped in the shower (separately!) got all dressed up and combed our moustaches. Out the door we went, smelling all nice and looking the part. The taxi was not there as agreed. Lady Luck must like the way we smell because we made in time, despite the taxi fail.
At Handicap International we met the boss, a lady named Alma. She was very sweet but she didn’t speak a lot of English. We had a good meeting where we talked about how we could help each other and we got a little info on what Handicap International is doing in the Beira area. They work with MEDT mine clearance, HIV / AIDS, polio and thereby support the handicapped in their everyday work.
After the positive and uplifting meeting with Handicap International we went to meet some of the other help organizations in the area. Handicap International were so sweet and helped by putting a car, a motorista and an NGO-sitter, named Lucas, at our disposal. We spent the whole day talking with NGO’s that didn’t really speak English, so I personally did not really get a lot out of it. But it was very interesting to meet a lot of very committed people and seing their projects.
We were really looking forward to the final meeting of the day. Kembo has a workshop where he builds bicycle wheelchairs; we arrived back at Handicap International, to meet up him. Kembo is a young lad of 28, in nice clothes. He has polio in both his legs and it affects the way he moves. He walked like a duck but spoke perfect English and it was a liberation.
He took us to a neighborhood that most would probably classify as slum but it is most appears that it is an ordinary living area in the center of Beira. We were received by Jorge (in Danish “Jørgen”), a mechanic at the workshop and a super nice guy.
The bicycle wheelchair workshop proved to be too awesome. Everything is built from scratch; these guys have mad skills; it was like we had stepped into a time-loop and landed in a Danish bicycle workshop 100 years ago. I was all excited and ran around with Jørgen and looked and touched everything while we talked of mutual experience and ideas. Henrik and Kembo had a chat about business managers plans. About 13 cycling wheelchairs are produced in Kembos workshop every month – each piece is handmade.
Going home with thunder
As it was getting late and we had a long travel back to Chimoio we went to the local market and to acquire dos cervezas to help us pass the time while waiting for the taxi. It was great to visit the workshop and we agreed to collaborate with Kembo, so Stefan and I are going to do a study trip to Beira. We can’t wait to go back and learn from these awesome dudes.
The trip back to Chimoio was rough as usual and the last light of the day had gone, as we approached the compound. We felt exhausted but it was impossible to sleep because, on the pitch black night sky, appeared the most beautiful electric storm. Fantastic view, much better than television.