The first Open Center established in Mozambique, the Centro Aberto Nhamatsane is a testament to the program’s ability to affect change. The center has been the foundation of the organization, and with the help of the local Mozambican community, has become an integral part of the rural development.
The Centro Aberto Nhamatsane (CAN) went through many changes over the years, to address the evolving needs of the community, and as new needs came to light. The Center started out as an Escolinha, a small school, to help rural children matriculate into city schools. Mozambique has a large disparity in access to fundamental education – statistics show that 2 out of 3 children enrolled in grade school will drop out before becoming literate – before even learning to read. The Escolinha at Nhamatsane was created with the help of locals in the area that wanted to affect changes in their community – addressing the needs of the children and providing them a place to understand school, the structure, and participate at a local level, prior to facing the difficulties of city-school matriculation. The Centro Aberto Nhamatsane was born from the need for Education and matriculation assistance for rural families.
The Escolinha provided an invaluable link into the Nhamatsane community – access to the children and the parents created a stronger community, and we began to understand other challenges the community faced, and working with community members, began to formulate new ways to promote development, and sustainability.
The parents of children that attended the Escolinha, with a purpose of empowering their children to succeed, donated time and efforts to the Center, assisting in creating Activism and Volunteerism as integral inputs to community betterment. Families helped to build the first Open Center, the round hut pictured above, and helped to prepare land surrounding the Center for farming. Volunteerism became a central theme around the organization, and locals lined up for training in areas such as hygiene and nutrition.
As the Escolinha progressed, we learned that there were other reasons for the large drop out rates – some students were not dropping out, but dying. It became imperative that the Center address the healthcare emergency faced by rural communities, with increased access to basic healthcare and nutrition education. The Healthcare initiative was thus born. Along with healthcare comes the need for supplies – the Center now needed an income source to cover the increased costs. Community volunteers stepped forward and lent their hands to farming the land surrounding the Center, and the Machamba (farm) was born. Today, the Machamba funds all of the healthcare initiatives, and provides invaluable access to healthy, nutritious foods, thereby providing sustainability for the Center and addressing food shortages in the rural community.