Friday, May 31, 2013

Sewing Clinic Opens Tuesday

over a year and a half ago i spoke to a women's group in hartwell. i shared openly about my journey and hearing God's voice to "get busy". i knew He had something for me to do but i honestly didn't know what it was. yet i knew i had to "get busy" to free myself up to do it. a lady with a huge smile and a stunning intensity put a check in my hand and said, "God told me the same thing". i liked her instantly. her passion is contagious. she arrives on Monday. i am humbled by how my life is impacting another and how Fran Colquitt is getting to a live a dream because of my paving a tiny path. 
Fran will be doing a three week sewing clinic with my students. all items we create will be available for purchase on our Etsy site: 

*all proceeds will go to furthering vocational training and generous salaries for our artisans!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Ibo Island Lodge

A living breathing sanctuary tells the story of the Arab and Portuguese invasion on this pristine island off the coast of northern Mozambique. Inside the Quirimbas Archipelago lies the quiet Stone Town of Ibo Island. What was once a thriving port city of Arab and Portuguese trade, is now a quiet island home to 4,500 Kimwani people. It is also home to Ibo Island Lodge. 

The 24 minute plane ride from the city of Pemba reveals turquoise seas, white sand and tiny primitive villages dotting the coastline. Four local children sit inside the open structure that is the Ibo Airport. They have shells to sell and ancient Portuguese coins in their palms. The Ibo Island Lodge Land Rover collects us quickly and within minutes I am sipping fruit juice from a champagne glass.  The welcome is a little rehearsed but well performed. The rooms are large and bright and nicely decorated with locally made furniture and imported Indian silk drapes. Bathrooms have dual sinks, an oversized claw foot tub and open cement shower. 

Arab and Portuguese influence is immediately noticed. Their structures stand grand and tall against the unassuming Swahili style architecture of the Kimwani people. Bright red clay tile roofs, intricate wrought iron and huge verandas tower over one room huts with thatch or galvanized roofs. The hotel’s large wooden dhow departs immediately for the sandbank. I grab my straw hat and one unread magazine completely unaware of the beauty I was about to encounter. 

Arriving on a wooden dhow with a  large white sail make the entrance to this white sandbank even more sublime. The seas surrounding are clear and perfect for snorkeling. The captain becomes the cook and an elaborate table is set underneath grand Bedouin-style canvas tents complete with linen napkins. Grilled shrimp served over pasta with roasted vegetables. Somehow while I was swimming facedown in the Indian ocean, three Mozambican sailors prepared a lunch fit for a queen. 

The remainder of my stay felt as if I were royalty. The meals grew more elaborate and the staff did their very best to anticipate my needs. I woke up most mornings before 5am to play tennis on the islands’ dilapidated court that doubles as an evening discotheque. There I felt like royalty who had arrived 500 years too late. I arrived early to the 7am breakfast complete with Ibo coffee brought by the Arabs centuries ago. 

Lodge Rates include all meals. Breakfast includes cereals, fruit, yogurt, a daily item from the bakery and a Chef’s Special of eggs in a variety of ways or French Toast. Lunch is often served on the sandbank or on the back lawn by the pool and include dessert. A five course meal is served at 7pm on the rooftop. Lobster, crab, and/or fish are always on the menu.

Guided tours of the island, her forts and ruins are offered daily. The tour guide’s broken English left me with lots of unanswered questions about the island’s history and even now, Google leaves me with still little understanding of really happened on this tiny island so long ago. The ruins reveal dark stone prisons and ports of slave exportation. The stories now left up to my imagination. Once grand architecture now stands less grand, dilapidated and abandoned, only inhabited by goats peeking out of open windows. The place feels a little haunted. I can only assume that it is.

The Kimwani people are friendly and familiar with sharing their island with invaders. They don’t seem to mind. I spent one evening at a local soccer game. Admission was 25 mets ($1). Each time the home team would score, local women would run to the fence surrounding the field and throw their babies up in the air, cheering in high pitched squeals. The “concession stand”, a small wooden table with boiled eggs and lollipops. 

The Silversmith artists skills of the 17th century remain there today offering their handiwork and hours of labor for a song. There are three small shops where purchases can be made and buyers can watch the entire process. Artists used to melt down old coins but now the Ibo Foundation provides them with silver, albeit low quality. It is still a must buy- a rare, unique, stunning item that that not many people on earth have in their jewelry box.

Four days here was not enough. I didn’t even have time to go on the dhow safari or canoe inside the mangrove forests. I didn’t comb the sands for porcelain china or sea glass, but got to see a little girl’s stash who has been living on the island and collecting treasures for the past four years.  I practically washed up on this island six years ago and was struck by her beauty, majesty and haunting story. I knew I would be back again. It was all just as enchanting as before and I can only hope this time will not be my last.

“The lodge is the brain child of owners Fiona and Kevin Record - but was built by the people of Ibo and is formerly a community tourism project. It is the largest employer on the island and economically effects the entire population. Their concept was that the lodge committed to providing employment and training to as many local Ibo people as possible. So alongside the building phase, training in English literacy and hospitality also commenced and the majority of the lodge staff were sourced from the construction site and trained. The result is a great sense of pride amongst the people of Ibo and the lodge plays a huge part in island life. Ibo's regeneration through eco and responsible tourism is the lodge's priority and therefore this is a place where your visit really does make a difference”.

Lunch on the lawn


A tiny drawback to island living- salty, murky orange water. But hot and plentiful. A treat.
Ibo Island Tennis Club! (note the badminton net)

Saturday, May 25, 2013

i do ibo

"The Shell House"

One of the Island's Forts

Artisan. I bought a small carved wooden dhow from him.

Ibo Island Lodge Pool

Passersby at the Ibo Island Lodge

The sandbank

Friday, May 24, 2013

treasure island

This time last week I was on Ibo (small article to come). Soaking in all the beauty of this primitive little island. Now I am back in my reality of life in Pemba. Ibo was quaint and quiet. Her 4,500 inhabitants so friendly and welcoming. Pemba is a little more threatening. I am always shocked by the varying levels of poverty all around me. I don't know how you measure it. Ibo was poor. Pemba is poor too. But it's a poor city instead of a poor island if that makes any sense. 
I was deeply impacted by this innocent little vacation more than I knew I would be. I went just to have some quiet time, but I stumbled into dreams of my past. I had a dream several years ago where I was in a large African farmhouse. It was spacious and lived-in. It was beyond quaint. It was rustic and functional. There were twin iron beds on a wrap around porch. I was wearing an apron. There was a screened-door. I could have been baking an apple pie. Two little girls were playing on a tire swing, both in braids. One girl was white, the other black. I knew there were other children there too. Children to inhabit all those beds. 

I stopped in to visit other missionaries living on Ibo. I stepped into a painted blue door underneath a large trumpet vine. Their daughter was playing in a bamboo playhouse with a little black girl in braids, a tattered brown dress and bare feet. The screen door was opened for me and there was a twin bed on the porch. We sat around the table covered with a needlepoint runner. They offered me coffee in a French press with rusks. Lovely South Africans. In an instant my dream collided with this moment and I wondered whose life I was living in. Was I back in that dream or was this reality? The father sat with a bowl on his lap making butter. The mother offered me homemade Feta cheese. The daughter eventually warmed up to me and now I have a friend for life. The next day they take me to see the Iris property. The ministry I work with owns ocean front property on this island. They've struggled with the Ibo government to get very far in building or creating anything just yet but apparently are hopeful. I've heard rumors they would like to build a lodge or place for hospitality. I can see the vision. It would be a perfect training center. It could take years. It would be so much fun.

I walked back in silence wondering just what my role is in any of this. I recalled past dreams and long conversations about working in the area of development and finding solutions to poverty. This little village looks no different than those all over this continent. There has to be a solution. Major strides are being made every day. Social businesses and schools and healthcare are growing and changing nations. I just wonder what my role is in the midst of it all. 

Meanwhile I am in the middle of this life in Pemba. We will soon begin another semester of English classes. Hartwellian Fran Colquitt will be sitting here beside me in 9 days, sewing away. She will be doing a three week sewing school with some of my students.  I will be taking over computer classes and teaching English. 

It doesn't look like an African farmhouse and I'm in jeans and not an apron. They aren't little girls but moody teenagers, but I am living a dream. I used to think daily about all the things from home that I will miss. But over the past few months I have been thinking about all the things from here that I never want to leave. Driving home on the scooter, on the sandy road in the dark last night from the nearby village under bright stars, I felt it. I will miss this. I don't know that I am even leaving or where I will go next. But I am following Him in the journey. And I don't have to know what it will look like, because I already know. It will look like something beyond my wildest imagination.

Monday, May 20, 2013


An Ibo preview. More to come.
an island on the way to Ibo

going to the sandbank

ibo international airport :)

veranda at ibo island lodge

sailing to the sandbank in a wooden dhow

Monday, May 6, 2013


I am working on a piece. A travel writing piece. An article about Pemba. In researching Cape Town, I found an article by a writer I had read before. I had recalled reading something he wrote about Pemba, then later found he had authored several books, including a few memoirs. I love memoirs. His article about an accommodation in Cape Town interested me. I looked it up and now plan to spend a day there. I wrote him last week and he wrote me back. He told me to write about what I know and suggested Pemba. Writing about this place from a travel writers point of view is almost comical. I wouldn’t exactly wish this place upon anyone really. There are zero restaurants I recommend and no places I would prefer to rest my head. Even my own accommodations are less than appealing. But I am not here for the lobster and chocolates on my pillow. So I am literally scratching my head (we have not had running water for two months now) and wondering just how I am supposed to write an article promoting this place as a tourist destination. But I love the idea and am up for the challenge. I plan to write about Ibo Island as well. I will take camera and computer and hope to spend my evenings here pecking out the days’ activities. 

This weeks’ lack of water has forced me to learn how to wash dishes from breakfast, lunch and dinner in 32 oz of water. This evening the whole ordeal just seemed too daunting so I ate a Snicker’s for dinner instead- easy clean up and a protein? I have had help in the classroom this week. A visitor is here teaching a course in the school called “La Red” created for African youth, teaching character development and having roundtable discussions on life. It has given me a little more flexibility in my days. Andrea arrives tomorrow and I am glad to finally have her back. This week Cesar needed to go to his father’s village to collect an “inheritance”. He came to me for the money to get there. I gave it to him. Zito brought me a fairly large aquamarine that he “found”. The gem is local to Mozambique it was perfectly cut and I would love to know it’s story. 

I taught the Friday “La Red” class on “Setting Goals” and loved sharing with the students my own personal methods of goal setting and sharing with them the goals I set to come to Moz and how it all came to fruition. Their culture is so survival oriented and setting goals and steps to accomplish them is often foreign. My morning class divided in groups and one group decided that they had a dream to open a restaurant and had written down a list of goals to work toward to make that happen. The afternoon class was different, full of frustrated kids who had had their dreams dashed for completely lack of finances and were filled with hopelessness. I went around the room and told each one what I saw over them. So much intellect. Such limitless potential. Nation changers. I found myself preaching my heart out and passionately compelling them not to give up. I gave it my all to encourage them not to look at the circumstances around them. I encouraged them to dream crazy absolutely impossible dreams. I can’t empathize with them. But I can speak truth to them. I wish they could see themselves the way that I see them.

Zito the Businessman and the "Aquamarine" that might just be a marble

Our school is the building on the left

going to the well for water