Edú Namarrogolo, is the Community Liaison Officer for the CHAMPS Program in Quelimane, Zambézia province, aged 33, has a degree in philosophy teaching with qualifications for teaching history at the Pedagogical University of Mozambique. Edú, arrives at CISM in 2018 and first worked as a Mobilizer in the CHAMPS program in Quelimane.
1. Tell us about yourself and your career path
Well, I was born in the Maganja de Costa district, but I grew in the Quelimane district. As for my professional career, I started in 2006 in the district of Lugela, as a primary school teacher. After two years, I decided to continue my studies and return to Quelimane for this purpose. While doing my degree, I had the opportunity to return to Lugela and consequently interrupt my studies, where I worked as a community facilitator at FGH (Friends in Global Health). After the contract ended, I returned to Quelimane, continued my studies and later had another opportunity to work as a superior at RAVI (Network for assistance to victims of mines). In 2018, with my degree already completed, I came to CISM, initially as a mobilizer, and months later, I was invited to play the role of Community Liaison Officer.
2. You were one of the first CISM mobilizers in Quelimane, what challenges did you face in the beginning of activities in the district?
Perhaps, say the mobilization involves raising awareness in the communities, following the study protocols and the summary of the messages in that protocol so that the communities can understand the project’s objectives. In connection with this work, my main challenge was to get the message of the CHAMPS program to a community that that had never before had a similar message, related to the causes of death, such a sensitive topic. Some communities at first rejected the project, associating it with other problems they already had, for example, it was thought that in this project, we would remove children’s organs, this based on a myth that was recorded here in Quelimane with the outbreak of cholera, where the communities even went on strike at the Cholera Treatment Center, claiming the health technicians are removing organs form the bodies of their loved ones who lost their lives to cholera and for this reason the body was covered. But also, we had challenges to reach the various points of the district, because initially we didn’t have the transport here in Quelimane and therefore, we traveled long distances on foot.
3. Do you currently think the community supports the CHAMPS project?
I think that we have already managed to gain a lot of sympathy from the communities and consequent support for the project and with the implementation of the project, several causes of death were explained to the communities, and one of the great results that we have been spreading is that the communities themselves assumed that this project it is helping to clarify why a child may have lost his life and has contributed to reducing cases of suspected witchcraft that resulted in the death of loved ones. In this process, we had challenges in places like Madal and Marrongane, where the community initially refused the project, questioning the need to know the causes of death, that is, that we only cared about the bodies and not the children as sick people, however, we did an intense work with these communities, explaining that by knowing the causes of child’s death, we can avoid future cases, and that it can even be a diseases that the parents themselves have.
4. The district of Quelimane is very big, how have you been doing your work?
The district is really big, there are cases, for example, where we have to walk more than 8km due to the access roads. When we go to these places, we strive not to compromise our work and as you know, in these communities there are usually no restaurants and that is the case, in many cases we end up preparing our meals in the homes of community leaders.
But also, in some periods there is a need to work on weekends, as currently is the time for the rice harvest, and as it is difficult to find the heads of households during the week, we opt for visits on weekends.
5. What learning have you had so far as a result of your work?
First, the daily interaction with community leaders and the community in general allowed me to see life from another angle, different form the lifestyle of the city where I grew up. Therefore, each day we are learning new things. But also in terms of procedures, I’ve been learning a lot, from community meetings, monitoring rumors, delivering results, to managing the mobilize team itself.
6. You have commented that there was a lot of political interference in the implementation of the project, can you explain?
We had a lot political interference in the work with community leaders, because as you know, the municipality of Quelimane, during this time, was managed by several political parties, and this meant that at times we arrived at a community with more than one secretary because the outgoing ones continued to have certain influence in the communities. We recently had community leaders from the ruling political party who claimed that we had deleted opposition community activists without consulting the new community structure. We had to explain the procedures used to identify, select and include community activists in the program. We said that activists were selected from health committees. And that these already existed when the CHAMPS project started in the province.
Another challenge that still remains is the fact that community leaders from different political parties do not accept to sit in the same room, that is why we often end up holding separate meeting, when we could only hold one meeting. However, we are seeing significant shift toward these attitudes.
7. What about religious issues?
The only religious community that represents a challenge to involve in the study is the Jehovah’s Witness, because they say, by belief, they do not accept that a believer undergoes blood transfusions, and question why they consent to the performance of MITS. Therefore, we have to respect!