Volunteers use their skills to promote self-reliance in Mozambique

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Families in Mozambique are becoming more self-reliant thanks to the help of volunteers from Care for Life who traveled there this summer to build up communities while gaining career experience.

Michelle Garrett, a recent BYU graduate, volunteered with Care for Life as a journalist. Garrett first became interested in volunteering when she learned she would be able to speak Portuguese, the official language of Mozambique, while utilizing skills she learned from majoring in journalism.

Courtesy of Michelle Garrett. Local members of the village of Motel Bispo in Mozambique help rebuild a house for a single mother whose home burned down.
Local members of the village of Motel Bispo in Mozambique help rebuild a house for a single mother whose home burned down. (Photo courtesy Michelle Garrett)

Garrett had the opportunity to travel to various villages and talk to individuals whose lives have been improved through the help of Care for Life. Ana Tenganhe is a single mother living in one of the villages Garrett visited who had been suffering from tuberculosis. Care for Life provided her with the help she needed to recover. Tenganhe told Garrett, “Other communities I have lived in don’t have this kind of help. Here they have reliable help. I don’t want the unity they have here to ever change.”

Similar to an internship experience, Care for Life allows volunteers to lead projects that are focused on a specific area of interest. Garrett was able to focus on her career while serving and gaining a unique real-world experience. “It broadens your view so much, and it broadens your ability to love and care about people and understand their perspective,” Garrett said.

Karen Nielson is another volunteer who is currently on her third trip to Mozambique with Care for Life. This summer she has been working with children in Mozambique villages to improve nutrition programs. She has also been conducting studies on gender inequality and the role of women in Mozambique.

Nielson said Care for Life is a unique organization because it is very family and community based. It focuses on issues that directly affect local communities and promotes solutions based on ideas that the people in each community come up with themselves.

Nielson said she feels at home with the people in Mozambique and enjoys the simplicity of life. “Priorities here are more properly placed. It’s beautiful to see the people and the hard work they’ve done even after the hardships they’ve faced. They are really a faithful people,” Nielson said.

Care for Life was founded in 2002 by BYU alumni Blair and Cindy Packard after they heard about a flood that devastated Mozambique. The country has suffered from decades of conflict and civil war. The Packards wanted to help bring lasting success to the communities affected by the tragedies and violence the country has faced.

Despite the hardships they have faced, the people of Mozambique are hard-working and have been happy to join in Care for Life’s efforts. Garrett said her favorite part about volunteering was interacting with the people who have been through so much but are still so happy. The people in Mozambique helped her better understand what is most important in life.

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