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World AIDS Day

Today is World AIDS Day.

Thank you again to all of the donours who helped our partners make a small dent in the epidemic.

Fundraiser: Prizes II

More Prizes: Two $10 gift cards for big burrito and several small gifts from Kufunana!

Fundraiser: Prizes

Prizes for the raffle

We have a total of seven prizes:

  1. Two $50 gift cards for Salt of the Earth (our favourite restaurant in Pittsburgh)
  1. One $25 gift card for La Gourmandine
  2. Two copies of the English Translation of "A Roda" (Kufunana's show—which we co-directed). We will sign them too.
  1. Two capulanas
  2. 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!

Fundraiser Menu

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 produce.)


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.

Cheese. crakers

Assorted finger foods. we haven't fully decided.

Main Courses

Fish Curry. coconut. peanuts. couve. xima (Mozambican-style polenta). basmati rice.

Fruit Curry. fruits. yams. (vegetarian)


Chocolate mousse. wasabi. cayenne. flambéed raspberries. whipped cream. kiwi foam. pecans.

Orange cake.

Pineapple. ginger. orange.

Pastries. depending on baker availability.

Fundraiser: September 3

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.

Fundraiser Postponed

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.

Back to Pittsburgh

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 EsMaBaMa.

We will keep you posted.

Photos IV

Photos from the show A Rede (The Network), which we performed with Kufunana.

The policeman and the prostitute (both protected).

The handsome truckdriver.

The teacher (teachers in Mozambique wear a white robe as uniform).

A Rede

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.

The Network

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.

Kickstarter - Beira Project Meets Kufunana Meets Schniztler

Kickstarter - Beira Project Meets Kufunana Meets Schniztler Get yourself a capulana!

Back in Beira

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.

In Mangunde. Back to Internet

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!

Theatre Classes in Machanga

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.

Newsletter I

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.


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).


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.

Interview II

Interview with Júlio João: Superstitions from Luis Pedro Coelho on Vimeo.

Second bit of our interview with Júlio João, of Kufunana, where he talks about superstitions around HIV/AIDS.



Capulanas at the store. Get yours now and help Kufunana put on a show.

Interview I

Interview with Júlio João: Theatre of the Opressed from Luis Pedro Coelho on Vimeo.

First excerpt of interview with Júlio João. We have more video that we will be uploading as we edit (and translate it) and as bandwidth permits.

This was also posted at



Theatre Class in Barada.

Photo II


Rehearsing with Kufununana. Help us and get a Beira Project souvenir at Kickstarter



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.

Photo III


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.


  1. 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.”
  2. 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,…

Computer for Kufunana

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 Portuguese):


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).

Tiny Poverty Facts

  1. 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 bags.
  2. 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 on our way!

We’re at JFK and waiting to check in for our flight to Johanesburg.

We raised over $2200!

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 our partners.

This would also not have been possible without the efforts of Cordelia, Sabah, and Grace, who were all wonderful.



Handing out prizes. More in my flickr stream

Menu for tonight

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_

Main Course

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

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: Kufunana)

One of our partners EsMaBaMa

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.

Prizes for Fundraiser!

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…

Reading up on what to take/expect

Advice from Chris Blattman I and II and here's Tyler Cowen.

The comments in the above posts tend to be pretty good too.

About Beira Project

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 better.

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.

Fundraiser Signup!

You can finally sign up for our fundraiser.

Sign up is not mandatory, but it helps us know how many to expect.

Save the date May 29. 6pm

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 expenses.

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. is Active

Changed the domain name.

Unfortunately, tumblr doesn’t let me use more than one domain name, so I am going to have to redirect 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.

Project Maputo Became Beira Project

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, but we will change it to later (we just got the domain name).

Encounters (III) Vasco Calais Pedro

Another friend that was very supportive was Vasco, who is CEO of Bueda.

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 resources.

Linux vs Windows for Project Maputo

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 mind.

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 internet.

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 easier.

(And, no, Apple is not under consideration; the machines are too expensive).

Encounters (II) Paul van der Boor

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.

Encounters (I) Maria da Conceição

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

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.