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Meeting Zimbabweans in Neighboring Countries in 2008 Hoping for a Better Future

Life is filled with contradictions. I am thinking now about the time in mid-2008, when I met Zimbabweans fleeing from their homeland looking for a better life. Many were afraid to talk openly for fear that relatives who had stayed behind might become victims of violence if they were quoted talking about the reasons they had left home.

I was fortunate to have several meetings over the course of a week at places like churches and truckstops alongside major international transportation routes into several neighboring countries. One meeting in Tete, Mozambique stands out. 14 ladies spent almost 90 minutes speaking about the reasons they had turned to prostitution as 'the only way they could make money to feed their families'. Only 2 had been able to consult with medical authorities. One was pregnant.

All of them danced and sang songs for me when they learned that I came from America, pleading with me to tell their stories. I am very thankful for this forum, to be able to tell their stories, and encourage the American public to promote efforts to seek peaceful reconciliation in that society.

I continue to correspond with Zimbabweans who still reside in Mozambique. A group of young teachers who are looking forward to the day they can go home, want to teach English in the Portuguese speaking country in an effort to build up the tourism infrastructure. It's a win-win situation that could provide gainful employment for the Zimbabwean, and a much needed service that could help dramatically increase the number of tourist visiting some of the best beaches in the world where today very few people in the tourism industry can speak English.

On the joint Zimbabwe-South Africa-Mozambique borders is an international Peace Park that needs helping hands to promote a wonderful idea. Corruption is a problem which needs to be brought to light.

Comments

Sharese's picture

Interesting

This is very interesting news William :) There is much power in women being able to tell their stories- Look at what Eve Ensler has done with V-day (the vagina monologues, the good body, I am an emotional creature, etc). It must have been a beautiful experience for you and you must have learned quite a bit.

I think that point you bring up about tourism is important. After living in a country whose main source of income was from tourism (Jamaica) I can tell you that tourism brings a lot of evil along with money. There is much issue with the commoditization of people on multiple levels, the least of which is that very little money generated by tourism is seen by the country the resorts are in (as most resorts are not owned by country nationals) and even less is seen by the people who actually do the work in said resorts. The worst of which is human trafficing and forced sex work. (I say least and worst on my personal scale- others may differ. Regardless, both are terrible and there are many more problems that tourism brings than just these two).

I think that learning about other cultures and promoting your own culture is a beautiful thing- if done right. Unfortunately the learning and living is consistently overshadowed by the almighty dollar. And the true nature of the country is destroyed (literally) in order to build some version of a white person's dream of what "exotic" Southern Africa should look like (you can see this all over the Caribbean).

I am not trying to be a debbie-downer, but I think when we talk about building tourism it is a tricky subject and should not be looked at lightly. With the beautiful beaches people will also shift their gaze to the people and often tourists do not see the people as humans like themselvse but instead see them as an attraction- like the beach itself (check out "I live in a Place" posted on my own journal for a personal feeling of this example) and this, in my opinion is unacceptable.

All of these issues need to be in the discussion of tourism development. Unfortunately up until now they are not. I hope that if Mozambique does decide to go the tourist route it does not turn into a neo-colonial settlement as so many other areas whose main income generation is tourism.

Please pass these issues along to your colleagues if you feel so inclined. I would be interested to know where they stand.

In Peace and Hope,

Sharese

Chikoret's picture

It is sad that women often

It is sad that women often have to make difficult choices. The poor do not often have a choice. They need to feed their children and hence opt for a life of prostitution. I hope that one day Africa will give its people choices, better choices. I am sure the women appreciate your communication. At times when you are stuck in a difficult situation those around you may not offer you the support that you need, possibly because they are in a similar situation. So thank you for listening to their stories and carrying their stories back to America and onto wordpulse.

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