On my daily drives through the community, I have seen a lot of growth over the years. This growth comes from industrious people, usually women, who want to make a better life for themselves and their families. In order to make some income, they set up little businesses.
Some women will set up a little table outside their property along the road where they sell small things people need like vegetables or bread. This woman told me that she goes into the city every morning at 4:30 to purchase these vegetables to bring them back out to Matola to sell at her stand.
Women who live along the path children take while walking to and from school set up a table with candies, cookies, and chips. Ingenious! What child could resist making a purchase like this?!
Women fry up and sell all manner of foods for hungry people to buy…small bean patties called bejias that are put in bread to make a sandwich, samosas, donuts, and little fried pieces of dough with coconut.
Yet the woman I have admired the most is a sweet, old lady who has been growing lettuce. She is just so very adorable in her wee-little rubber boots, tending her garden. As I drive by, I always greet her and compliment her on her work. She beams with a smile that lights up her face. She began about two years ago with a small plot in front of her humble home. It was a small start. I have watched as she has tried new and inventive ideas to keep away pests like cats, insects, or small children. I have seen her struggling to carry heavy buckets of water to shower the lettuce plants. At times, I have seen her work destroyed by lack of water, a storm, or even trampled by who knows what. Yet she has persevered day after day, month after month.
I have always wanted to take her photo but had been too shy to ask. Today, I garnered up the courage to just go for it. The worst she could do would be say, “No.” Instead of turning me down, she gladly accepted. I told her I just had to share the fruit of her labor with my friends in America.
Take a look at her now! She has not just one small plot, but many at different stages of growth. Here you see just two large plots of mature lettuce plants, but to the side are 4 more plots, equally as large. She also now has a garden hose so that she can easily water her lettuce each day. She has strung up strips of black plastic to shoo away pests. And she has put a line of barbed wire along the road to keep out unwanted passersby.
Mozambique is not an easy place to live. Yet, this woman has proved that “Where there is a will, there is a way”. She has made a way for herself. It is a testimony to me, and I hope to you as well!