How did you come to work for MMF?
I am from a small village called Chokwe in the Gaza Province that is 90 kilometers from the ocean. I went to university to get a bachelor’s degree in education and teaching. I wanted to go to university because it is one of the best ways to build on the basic background we learn at school. I joined MMF in January 2016 as a teacher and I work with the swimming instructors.
Before joining MMF, I did only understand little about importance of conservation. When I started learning about it I became more and more excited. I am so happy to be working with MMF and doing what I can to support conservation because it’s not only a good thing for the animals and the sea, but also for humans as we are always in contact with the ocean.
What is your role with MMF?
I am an Education Officer for the Nemos Pequenos program, so I am coordinating all of the activities related to education and swimming. I help the teachers at the schools we work at to prepare the lessons and I go to those schools to deliver the curriculum. This year, we are working with four schools and two preschools to deliver marine education lessons.
What is the best thing about your job?
The best part of my job is teaching the kids. It gives me a sense of pride because I know that teaching the kids will help the community change. By teaching the kids about the importance of the ocean, we are creating a new generation of ocean guardians. Together we are changing the future of the ocean and the future of the communities. I also feel very proud when the children perform what they have learned through stories, plays and songs, and you can see that they truly understand and enjoy it.
When you are not working you are…?
I like to play volleyball because I was trained to be a volleyball coach. I also enjoy listening to music and watching live music with friends, but I am so busy with work that I often do not have time. It takes me an hour and a half each day to travel to the office. I have to take a minibus, a ferry and then another minibus each way, but I’m somehow very good at arriving on time!
What was your most ‘out there’ moment at work?
I remember when I asked the kids from Nhassanana preschool a lot of questions and they managed to answer all of them. I brought along different photos of animals such as whale sharks and turtles, and asked the kids to point out the turtle and they were able to show us and even share some interesting facts about the animals. That is something that I will always remember; that we managed to help the kids learn about marine animals and now they will know it forever. It was surprising because they are just little kids but they were so engaged and remembered so much.
What are the challenges of teaching 80 children at once?
Teaching kids is always a challenge regardless of the number. It is really challenging to manage the class and kids tend to be noisy and disruptive. But we do our best efforts as a team and try to have order in the classroom. From the results we can see that the kids understand and enjoy what they have been learning. However to make it even more effective we decided to split the class into two to reduce the number of kids. Experience has shown us that when we reduce the number of kids the lessons are more productive. So I wouldn’t like to teach more than 45 students again at the same time.
What are the challenges of working with limited resources?
Working with fewer resources is quite challenging but it is also an opportunity to get creative! It has been a great way for me to invent activities for the kids to do. Sometimes we print whale sharks images for the kids and they color them with paints. Sometimes we make sandcastles of whale sharks on the beach. We have also created beach games for the kids when we are cleaning up the ocean debris.
What is your favorite part of the Nemos Pequenos program?
The best part is when we are with the kids. Teaching is the key part of our program and that is the best thing that we do.
Why do you think it is important to teach children?
I think it is important because it is through teaching that we can help people understand what they don’t know. Unfortunately most of the people around the country, even around the world, don’t know much about the ocean. So if we prepare a curriculum that helps the kids learn about the ocean, we are helping to create a new generation of ocean guardians. Educated people are the key for development and the key for change.
What are your hopes for the future of Mozambique?
I want Mozambique to be filled with many people living by the coast, which have developed ownership and are aware of the importance of preserving the ocean. I believe that if we keep on working we can reach more people. If we reach more people and have more programs like Nemos Pequenos, then Mozambique will really change and that will help us as a country. We just need to keep working and I believe that in a few years we can have many programs like this. And we will be able to change the world.
If you were dropped on a deserted island and could take three items with you what would they be and why?
I need to make sure that I don’t take things that will pollute the ocean. I can’t take plastic bottles. I would take something to use for fishing and something to carry water with me. I don’t care how I carry water as long as I don’t pollute the ocean.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to do what you’re doing?
First of all, try to develop a deep love and respect for the ocean. We do that through the knowledge that we gain. Focus on understanding the effects of pollution and why protecting the ocean is so important. Then you will be really motivated to work with the kids! Knowledge about the ocean, love and respect is important because if you don’t know anything then you can’t do anything. You also need experience with the ocean, if you just hear from someone else it is their story and not your story. You need to experience the ocean to be motivated to protect it.