Today is World AIDS Day.
Thank you again to all of the donours who helped our partners make a small dent
in the epidemic.
More Prizes: Two $10 gift cards for big burrito and several small gifts from Kufunana!
Prizes for the raffle
We have a total of seven prizes:
- Two $50 gift cards for Salt of the Earth (our
favourite restaurant in Pittsburgh)
- One $25 gift card for La Gourmandine
- Two copies of the English Translation of "A Roda" (Kufunana's show—which we
co-directed). We will sign them too.
- Two capulanas
- A capulana bag
We will use the same system as last year: For every $5 above a $25 donation,
you get a raffle ticket. So, if you donate the recommended $35, you get two
tickets; if you donate $50, you get five!
This is the menu for the fundraiser on Saturday. It will not be a
sit-down dinner, but we organised into courses:
(Some of the recipes may change while we shop, depending on availability of
Paulista Shrimp. pan-fried shrimp. garlic. jalapeños. (paulista is someone
from São Paulo, in Brazil).
Pineapple. bacon powder. basil leaf.
Spinach. prunes. shitake. coconut milk.
Assorted finger foods. we haven't fully decided.
Fish Curry. coconut. peanuts. couve. xima (Mozambican-style polenta).
Fruit Curry. fruits. yams. (vegetarian)
Chocolate mousse. wasabi. cayenne. flambéed raspberries. whipped cream. kiwi
Pineapple. ginger. orange.
Pastries. depending on baker availability.
We are holding our 2nd Annual Fundraiser this Saturday, September 3.
If you are in Pittsburgh, please come to the party and bring your friends.
We will have cocktails, gourmet food, wine, prizes, good people.
Remember: even if you cannot make it to the party, you are more than welcome to
donate online (click the Donate link to your right). This is not just a
party, it's a good cause.
Because we just had a baby (who arrived earlier than expected), we are
postponing the fundraiser we had planned.
The tentative new date is September 3rd.
We arrived to the US a week ago, and are back to work at the university, the
fall semester is starting soon… But we hope to go back to Mozambique very soon,
this trip was an unforgettable experience!
Our Mozambican projects will continue from Pittsburgh anyway. For now Rita is
going to transcribe and translate the play developed with Kufunana, and Luis is
going to continue to develop the computer tools of the health clinics of
We will keep you posted.
Photos from the show A Rede (The Network), which we performed with
The policeman and the prostitute (both protected).
The handsome truckdriver.
The teacher (teachers in Mozambique wear a white robe as uniform).
Our show was called A Rede (The Network), based on La Ronde (which in
Portuguese translates to A Roda, get to A Rede).
The show was presented in Beira. While we were there, we presented one show
only, but Kufunana is continuing to present the show.
The text and the stories that came out were really very good and we will be
working on writing them down. There were 3 dance scenes, two of which were
symbolic representations of the sexual act as a fight between those infected
with HIV and those not infected (possibly aided by a condom).
The Kufunana actors both created almost all of the dialogue and were great
performers. Without such great people, it would have been ridiculous to stage a
show, in less than two weeks, with no fixed text yet. We had concrete concepts
of what the show should look like (based on La Ronde, featuring danced
representations of sex and contamination and some of the ideas for which
characters should appear), but without their improvisational skills at fleshing
out the scenes, it wouldn’t have been possible.
After some discussion with our Mozambican friends from Kufunana, the idea of
the wheel (La Ronde, from Schnitzler, which we were thinking of basing our play
on), where character 1 sleeps with 2, 2 with 3, 3 with 4 &c was too limited.
Here we will have a network. This seems to be better reflect Mozambican
reality of multiple concurrent sexual partners.
So the working title for our creation is now The Network.
Kickstarter Project Page: Help us by getting
yourself a gift.
After two weeks working in EsMaBaMa’s missions, we are back in Beira (and in
internet-land). We will post images and videos over the next few days, but it
was a very successful trip.
Last week, for over a week, there was no internet in Beira. There was no
internet in this whole area of the country. Phones worked, sometimes. It seems
charming, but banks suffered too. It took us 3 days to be able to exchange
traveller’s checks. We heard that last time this happened, people weren’t even
able to get their paychecks for weeks.
We don’t know if it is solved by now. We are in Mangunde, another of Esmabama’s
missions, and we have a satellite link here. It is slow, deadly slow (so, no we
won’t be able to upload any pictures). But it works. So we were able to read
all of our email (i.e., read our spam) and will start posting some updates when
we have a bit of free time.
We did the show with Kufunana. It was a very rewarding experience for both us
and, hopefully, them. We started with a few scattered ideas and, two weeks
later, we were opening. This is due to the quality of the actors who have a lot
of experience improvising. In the end, we had a great show. They had a
great show. We presented it in Beira, but Kufunana was already planning to
present it in more rural areas (which is where they do most of their work).
The show, called The Network, talks about intersecting sexual exchanges, for
love (sometimes) and for money (mostly), having protected and unprotected sex.
It was based on La Ronde, by Schnitzler, but adapted to Mozambican reality
with the addition of a Greek chorus of drunk men. The show itself is mostly
theatrical in form, but we have some dance scenes, with both traditional
African rhythms and Western style pop music making an appearance.
We also managed to raise $500 for Kufunana with Kickstarter. Actually, since we
were without internet, we didn’t even know whether we had got to our goal or
not! It was only after the fact that we were able to check up on it. Thank you!
Last week, we taught theatre classes in Machanga, one of EsMaBaMa’s missions.
This week, we are leaving soon to repeat the same in 2 other missions over the
next two weeks.
Neither of these have internet. In fact, they only have a few hours of
electricity per day, six to nine PM (in Mozambique, everything starts earlier
than in East Coast USA: classes start at seven, so it’s not unreasonable to
have lights-out at nine).
Being a short workshop, the classes, taught to members of pre-existing theatre
groups had two interlocked goals: to teach them some voice, movement, focus
exercises they can use in their own group and work with them with a poem (we
randomly assigned each a poem, all from African poets, all from the Portuguese
curriculum). We combine dramatic expression with text analysis to use this
opportunity to have the students review grammatical and rhetorical concepts
that are focused on in Portuguese language classes.
This was also sent out by email to our newsletter subscribers.
During our first week, we stayed in Beira and became familiar with the
activities of Kufunana. We started developing their website and interviewed Júlio João the head of the
organization (see clips on website, with English subtitles). We are still
translating and putting subtitles on the rest of the video so we can post the
whole of this fascinating interview.
We are also developing with Kufunana a two week theatre workshop that we hope
will culminate with a performance and a debate.
During the second week of our stay, we went to the schools and hospitals that
EsMaBaMa has in the province of Sofala and discussed ways we could help.
Starting tomorrow we are going to spend a week per school (a total of four)
teaching theatre and computer skills (some basic introduction and some
programming) and observing the medical facilities so we can see how their
computational tools can be improved. All the schools have theatre groups that
work on HIV related issues. We are going to work with the teachers and students
to teach theatre games that try to raise social issues that are pertinent
locally (such as: child birth in the hospital, gender issues, HIV, education
for girls, superstitions, reproductive health). But we are also going to work
on bringing to the stage African poetry and use the theatre class as a fun
Portuguese language class.
There are only three hours of electricity in the three first schools we are
going to visit (and often no running water, of course no garbage collection).
Due to the reduced number of hours we have energy and the reduced number of
computers per school (generally four working devices) Luis is going to teach
mainly to teachers, and as we have seen the need is essentially for computer
introduction classes. In the last school there is electricity twenty four hours
a day, some students have computer classes, and there are ten computers. Luis
will then be able to teach intro to programming.
COMPUTER+INTERNET FOR KUFUNANA
We have given Kufunana a computer (gift from Lidio Meireles) and have paid for
them to get internet (now, we just need to wait for the Mozambican Telecoms to
connect them—which shouldn’t take more than a week).
COMPUTERS FOR ESMABAMA
Another one of our goals is to use part of the money we raised to buy and
install more computers in one of EsMaBaMa’s schools. Probably this will be a
multi-head installation (i.e., several monitor+keyboard+mouse terminals linked
to a single computer, but working as if they were separate computers), but we
are still studying this. We were surprised to realize that electronics are very
expensive here (often double the US price). Other things can be really cheap.
Today we bought wrist-watch for one dollar (one of those retro digital ones
that sell for forty bucks at Urban Outfitters). Again it’s hard to believe but
the GDP per capita is $464 per year.
Theatre Class in Barada.
Rehearsing with Kufununana. Help us and get a Beira Project souvenir at
This is Julio from Kufunana. We have a really
interesting video interview with him that we will post once we have translated
it (it’s in Portuguese).
He talks about Kufunana, theatre of the opressed, HIV/AIDS in Mozambique, the
impact of superstitions, and other things.
It was impossible to find a tripod in Beira (we tried about fifteen different
shops who sold all sorts of electronic brick-a-brack). This was a home-made
attempt (ultimately unsuccessful as it was too flimsy).
This was taken in Beira, Mozambique; near the house where EsMaBaMa is hosting us.
Walking to the boat to bring us back to Beira.
- I have my kids in a private school because I can’t afford the public ones.
We asked whether the public schools weren’t free. “They have no tuition, but
to get a spot you need to pay people. At the start of the school year, you
might have to spend 3000MTC at once. And then the teachers will try to get
you to pay so that they don’t fail the student. It’s a lot of money. In the
private, you pay tuition each month. It’s easier to pay and it’s less money
in the end.”
- Young girls (starting at the age of 14, catorzinhas) will get often someone
that, out of politeness, is sometimes called a boyfriend. More bluntly, the
men also go by ATM or minister (in the European sense of member of
government). So that if a man is paying her or her siblings tuitions, he
will be her minister for education, if he pays the electric bill,
minister for energy,…
Our friend Lidio had donated a working laptop. Unfortunately, because Lidio had
spent some time in Japan, upon boot it looked like this:
After installing Ubuntu, it looks much more intelligible (if you understand
Even fee, the cat, can use it now, to read our blog:
We already gave the laptop to Julio, from Kufunana (we are still working on that website too, so it
will grow over the next couple of weeks).
- In the market (see previous video), not all merchants have plastic bags. If
you are buying from one who does not have them and want one, cry out
Plastic and the plastic bag seller will sell you one. Here is a person
(a little boy, by the way) who makes his living selling individual plastic
- We were looking at a grant application here. As one of the resources of the
association that was applying, they listed access to electricity. It's not
taken for granted.
Bench says: Be faithful to your partner
We’re on our way!
We’re at JFK and waiting to check in for our flight to Johanesburg.
We are still working on the final accounting, but it is now clear that we
raised over $2200!
Thank you to : Vasco Calais Pedro, Dr. K, Aken Su, Nichole Faina, and the many
anonymous donours. Also, thank you to Chef Tony Pais at Café Zinho, Tana
restaurant, Whole Foods, Prantl’s Bakery, Big Burrito, Bueda, and Couchange for being
This would also not have been possible without the efforts of Cordelia, Sabah,
and Grace, who were all wonderful.
If the menu makes you really want to come to our party, feel free to just show up.
See you later!
Andalucian gazpacho. Cold tomato soup with garlic, onions, and peppers.
Seviche. Lime marinated tilapia with cilantro and bell peppers.
_Paulista_ shrimp. Pan-fried shrimp with garlic and jalapeños. (Paulista: from the city of São Paulo, Brazil).
Vietnamese-style Spring Rolls with shrimp, Korean-style barbecued beef, or vegetarian
Peanuts on the porch
Cheese and crackers a donation from _WholeFoods_
Chicken curry with coconut milk, banana, and peanuts. Served with cinnamon seasoned Basmati.
Fruit curry (vegetarian option). No peanuts.
Chickpea cous-cous (vegetarian).
Spicy mango soup with anise, served cold with Turkish yogurt
Green tea *Moschi* ice-cream
Cookies a donation from Prantl’s Bakery (on Walnut St).
Strawberry Alentejan gazpacho with biscuit
Chocolate brownies with raspberry
Caipirinha. Cachaça (Brazilian Rum-like spirit) with crushed limes.
Morangoska. Vodka with crushed strawberries.
Wine & beer
Prizes for Fundraiser! Details
We will be raffling almost $200 worth of prizes!
- A meal for 4 at Cafe Zinho!
- A meal at Tana
- A meal at Mad Mex
- A gift card from Barnes & Nobles
- T-shirts from Bueda
- Drink coasters from Mozambique
You get a raffle ticket just for showing up with a donation of more than $25
plus another ticket for each $5 donated above that.
We heartily thank the businesses that have contributed to our project by
donating food (WholeFoods) or gift certificates for restaurants.
Sign up now
Second of our partners: Kufunana. The photo shows Kufunana performing theatre
of the oppressed on the street to raise awareness on HIV testing (photo credit:
This is one of the groups that we will be working with in Mozambique (and for
whom we are fundraising).
Their website contains a description of their
projects including some pictures.
Thanks to several generous gifts from local businesses, if you come to our
fundraiser (sign up page), you will be able
to win several free meals at local restaurants! You will get a chance to win
just by showing up.
We will have more details later today…
The Beira Project will provide HIV-related non-profits in Mozambique with
tools, physical and technical, to do their job better, to reach more people
Rita and Luis, two graduate students in Pittsburgh (in theatre and
computational biology), will be working with two local Mozambican organisations
in Beira (Mozambique’s 2nd largest city) supporting them in their work.
One of our partners, Kufunana, uses theatre of the oppressed in markets and
schools to raise awareness on the necessity of HIV screening (even though HIV
rates exceed 15%, many people still act as if they were immune). Beira Project
will help Kufunana become visible on the web by bringing them computer
hardware, facilitating internet access, and teaching them how to reach out to
their other international partners. On the artistic front, Rita and Luis are
looking forward to exchange theatre experiences and approaches, and to be able
to develop new material together.
EsMaBaMa, our other colaborator, runs schools and HIV/AIDS clinics of the
province of Sofala (which includes the city of Beira and the rural regions
around it). Besides their physical needs, they need an integrated software
platform for managing their patients. Currently, the solutions they use,
adapted from the western world, are not well suited to their conditions. An
alternative solution must be robust to network quality (all possible network
connections can be found in Mozambique, from no connection, to very high speed
mobile internet, through semi-reliable SMS coverage), it must be open source
(in the past, using a closed source solution has led to stagnation after the
funds to pay for support/updates ran out as well as to lack of integration with
other systems). The developing world is under-resourced in physical
infrastructure, but, for there is no reason why its software should lag behind
the state of the art. With EsMaBaMa Rita will also train teachers to use
theatre games as classroom tools in the prevention of HIV.
May 29 6-pm we will hold a fundraising cocktail at our house to raise money
to help our partners in Mozambique.
You can come enjoy some wine, cocktails, gourmet food, while helping our
Mozambican partners in their fight against HIV.
What does this money go to?
Buying things for our partners on the ground. We will have a detailed list
available online when we make a more formal announcement, but it will consist
mostly of computer hardware, school supplies, &c
This money will not be used to pay for our flights, lodging, or other similar
We will more details later, once we have online donations and registration set
up (hopefully, later this week), but for now, save the date: May 29, Saturday
and start telling your friends.
Changed the domain name.
Unfortunately, tumblr doesn’t let me use more than one domain name, so I am
going to have to redirect projectmaputo.org by myself.
Also, it seems tumblr doesn’t allow multiple authors on your default blog.
That’s a bit annoying. It also doesn’t let change what your default blog is.
That’s more annoying.
For the lack of clear idea, we started out thinking we’d head to Maputo, but we
found our partners in Beira. So, Project Maputo becomes Beira Project.
Right now, the URL is still projectmaputo.org, but we will change it to
beiraproject.org later (we just got the domain name).
Another friend that was very supportive was Vasco, who is CEO of
Vasco has let me know that we can count on him and Bueda. If we need to
piggy-back on some nice cloud infrastructure, I now know that Bueda has the
One of our projects in Mozambique will be to set up computer labs for several
of the groups there. One of the questions is what operating system to use.
I haven’t personally run Windows since Windows 98 was their newest operating
system (I did have an dual-booting Linux/XP laptop before you could buy linux
laptops, but I rarely used it, this was 6 years ago). I had an Apple laptop for
a while, but now all my computers are Linux. Still, I am trying to keep an open
I do know that in these environments it’s not sufficient to just leave them a
bunch of computers as they will quickly become unusable with viruses and
spamware as kids install all sorts of things to get games to work (or to see
pictures of unclad women). I know this from seeing it in other countries and
from talking to our partners in Mozambique. Some intellectual tabloids (a term
I just coined) have even pointed out how this is a problem for the wider
The argument is thus for a Linux based solution where the typical user is
allowed to run firefox (and only firefox) and more advanced users can run
openoffice. By logging in remotely, a more advanced expert can do maintenance
up to the point where the machines stop connecting to the internet.
I can’t probably give you an answer now as to what we will use, but if I found
a good Linux distribution for this environment, it would make things much
(And, no, Apple is not under consideration; the machines are too expensive).
Paul van der Boor is one of the founders of Project Yele. He is also a student here at Carnegie Mellon and
someone who knows him told me I should talk to him.
I didn't have any specific questions for Paul, but he we ended up chatting for
an hour (over Skype as Paul is now in Lisbon not Pittsburgh). He gave me plenty
of good advice based on his experience:
- Do it if you have the time and the contacts.
- Get a local partner.
- Find out what you’re good at and do that.
- Get visibility.
Last week, as part of the PAPS Forum, Maria da
Conceição visited Pittsburgh and CMU. We heard her talk during dinner and,
since we were part of the organisation of the Forum, we had a bit more contact
with her and got to know her.
Her work is not only inspiring as a human story, but it also showed how
necessary it is to help some people and that it is possible to do so in small
ways. An economist friend said that he was both touched by the humanity and
professionally impressed by the fact that she had measurable success.
Most amazing is that Maria’s humility is not an act. Once you meet her and hear
her live, you see she’s for real. Her work is at Dhaka Project.
Project Maputo is the idea that two people (Rita & Luis) will spend two months
in Mozambique (maybe Maputo, maybe not) and try to do something interesting.