Whilst staying at the Monestevole farm, we had the opportunity to meet actual ‘tribe’ members, Amy and Neil, TribeWanted board members. On Wednesday night, this entrepreneurial couple from England visited the farm to talk to us about one of their biggest dreams that, in 2002, became a reality.
It all began in northern Mozambique in a small village called Guludo. To the young couple, the almost deserted, picturesque beach, was the perfect touristic location. But they had a different kind of tourism they had in mind – not like the kind we get in Bali. This kind of tourism was beneficial to both the land and the local community. In Amy’s words, “there is so much potential when tourism is done right.” And this was evident throughout the night as she elaborated on everything they had been tirelessly working on for 7 years.
There were two things that were evidently important to Amy and Neil. One was not leaving a scar on the earth, so that even if the business went up, or for some reason they didn’t continue with it, the land could quite easily go back to how it was. Two was the importance of integrating with the local community, so it wasn’t as if some random people had come into this village and taken over the economy and the land. That is where their nine beach lodges came in; beautiful locally made cabins right on the coastline. The staff are all hired from the local village, Guludo, and all the materials to make the resort were fabricated by local artisans and craftspeople, thus stimulating the local economy and creating a relationship with the locals. And this took time; months and months of talking with community leaders, communicating on what were necessities to the residents, and all the other important things it takes to create a sustainable business.
Through talking to the people of Guludo, Amy and Neil discovered three important things that the community needed: schools, clean water, and health. And so they created Nema, a project tackling all those needs. Nema is a local word that describes the feeling of happiness after suffering ends, which is the intention (and, spoiler alert, outcome) of this program.
Amy spoke to us about each aspect of Nema; how it was implemented, what it tackled, and what has been the outcome so far. It’s divided into three parts: the Education Projects, Health Projects, and Water Projects. For example, under the Education Project, Nema looks at school meals, scholarships, and primary schools. According to the Guludo website, “Before Nema, less than 1% of children went to secondary school and less than 20% complete all 7 years at primary schools. Since 2006, Nema has built five primary schools, feeds 820 primary school children a daily, nutritious meal and has helped support over 250 children with secondary school scholarships.” A lot of the children weren’t actually going to school as a result of the food shortages so, through Nema, having a daily meal allowed the children to attend school.
As Guludo was the first community this was implemented in, there were a lot of mistakes that were made, but this also meant a whole lot of learning opportunities. A significant thing that made me really think was how changes won’t just come straight away. It takes time and energy, patience and dedication, to be able to make meaningful projects like this happen and to make a difference. “All of the projects overlap and reinforce each other, they help to develop leadership in the community and it helps them to address the problems most pertinent in that individual community. So we do have a very holistic approach.” Soon, Nema’s successes became widespread knowledge, and other villages came to Amy and Neil to ask about implementing the project in their village. Nema expanded from just being centered in Guludo, to then reaching four villages. Now, Amy and Neil are working with 16 villages, which, overall, is around 26,000 people.
Amy told us how important it is to have a contribution from the community. In the beginning, she said it was difficult managing expectations around what was said to be done, and a lot of the time the expectations were on them to do everything. “There is no point, as foreigners, going in and just doing projects; it has to be through the local community and they have to want it and demonstrate they want it,” she explained. They realised that a huge part of their project was to help and empower the local community to make a change in their village, especially mothers and women, so that they can make better and more informed decisions for themselves and their families. For example, with the Education Project, for the kids to be able to attend school the family would have to build a certain amount of the school building, or in some other way contribute to the development of the school. This not only integrated the local community and encouraged them to help, but also stimulated the local economy, which, as I mentioned ealier, was also being done with the beach lodges.
There are many ways for people to get involved in these projects in forms that will actually be beneficial to the community. On their website, you are able to donate and, through Guludo, you can ensure that the money gets to the right people. Personally, I found everything that Amy and Neil had been working so hard on extremely inspiring. For a student that is about to leave high school and move out of home, I am constantly looking for ways in which I can help where my time and energy is needed – places like the Guludo beach lodges and this farm in Monestevole, where you can do good, honest work and really help out. Amy and Neil started out as a young couple who had a dream of making a place like this. With a list of all pro’s and almost no con’s, there didn’t seem to be anything holding them back. Of course, these things don’t happen overnight, and it takes years of real work and dedication to make it happen, but the end product and that nema feeling is just so satisfying.
“It is so tough going into something like this, and you’ve got to be completely altruistic. You can’t expect thanks, you can’t expect anything in return; you’ve just got to have your vision and be focused on it and just go for it. You get so many knocks, but at the same time, when you have the privilege of seeing fresh water running in a village for the first time, there is nothing in the world that beats that… It’s tough, but nothing beats it, and it is a privilege to be apart of that.” – Amy Carter James.
Written by Sofi Le Berre