Home Sweet Chitima

Site: Chitima

District: Cahora Bassa

Province: Tete

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Let’s start with Tete as a whole. One of the westernmost provinces in Moz, it’s separated from the rest of the country by Malawi. It’s divided into 15 districts and 4 municipalities with a total population of 1,783,967 (as of the 2007 census). The Zambezi River runs through the middle of the province and passes through Cahora Bassa dam, which i one of the largest dams on the African continent. It provides the majority of South Africa’s electricity.

Chitima sits near the Cahora  Bassa mountain range and dam, near Songo, about 140 kilometers from the district capital of Tete City (population approximately 93,000). The drive there is an easy 2.5 hours down a paved road using public transport, and an even easier 1.5 hours if you can score a ride in a private car. Aside from my Education site mate from the Moz25 cohort, thenext closest PCV lives in the city. The other 4 volunteers from my cohort live in Moatize, Mavudze Ponte, Zóbue and Angonia. In total, 13 PCVs call Tete Province home.

Populationmap close

According to the 2007 census, the estimate for Chitima is 9,300

Climate

Because it’s a tropical climate, the year is divided into two seasons: rainy (September-March) and dry (April-August). One of the hottest provinces in Mozambique, Tete hangs out around 42°-47°C during the summer months and 26°-32°C during the winter months. For those of you not operating under centigrade, that’s 107°-116°F during the months of September through February and 79°-90°F between March and August. Once I work myself up to dropping a thousand meticais at the market, a fan is about to become my best friend.

Languages

Nyungwe and Portuguese

Nyungwe (also spelled nhúguè, cinyungwe, nhundgwe, chinyungwi, the list goes on) is a Bantu language that evolved in Mozambique, primarily for trade in the Tete area. Fun fact, the name “Tete” is actually derived from the nyungwe word mitete meaning “reed”. Today it’s spoken by approximately 439,000 people along the Zambezi River, making it one of the most recognized languages in Mozambique.

Economy

Agriculture in the form of livestock such as cattle and goats and crops such as beans, corn, and potatoes are the main sources of income in Chitima. Tete province, however, is home to a large coal mining industry and attracts expats from all over Southern Africa. Hydroelectricity also supports a large portion of the local economy.

Common Health Issues

Given the high prevalence rate of HIV across the entire country, it comes as no surprise that it is also the most common health issue seen in Chitima. Malaria, tuberculosis and cholera follow close behind, but the rate of these cases depends on the season (rainy or dry).

Work placements

My initial assignments from Peace Corps are with the Centro de Saúde de Chitima and Associação Kuthandizana Kuchira, also known as Kappa Kappa…which, quick translation, is the Health Center of Chitima and The Association to Help Each Other Heal (a community-based organization funded by Family Health International 360). The Kappa Kappa offices in Chitima are situated inside the health center, forming a partnership between the two.

The main focus of both is HIV/AIDS, specifically in the areas of treatment and adherence. Kappa Kappa works primarily in HIV testing and counseling, while the hospital provides the actual antiretroviral drugs.

As of right now, I am working more exclusively with the community activists from Kappa Kappa, known as Activistas, who go out into the neighborhoods to give palestras (health talks) and do home visits for HIV+ patients who have abandoned treatment. This, however, will likely change the longer I am here and the more I learn about the community’s needs. Community members and coworkers have already come forward with a variety of projects they’re interested in starting, ranging from water accessibility to grant writing to English classes. Time will tell!

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