Training for Transformation

Team Mozambique Trains New Leaders

Team Mozambique Trains New Leaders
The story of Miriam narrated by Andrea, Alzira, Lurdes and Marcía

After the first Training for Transformation workshop in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2019, the training continued. The second round of the United Methodist Women-sponsored Training for Transformation course in Maputo, Mozambique, in February 2020, included more practical and applied processes, enabling the United Methodist Women local team members to put the new concepts into practice. Before the field visits, the women practiced the techniques of planning, facilitation, observation, listening and needs assessment. With revived knowledge and skills, the women leaders then tailored their training to the specific needs back in their respective communities to grow a cadre of local women leaders.

The idea that the first day sets the tone for the semester, year or, in this case, the rest of the training, couldn’t be farther from the truth. The women trickled in one by one in the span of three days, due to previous commitments. This discouraged the leaders. However, with each late arrival, the mood visibly brightened and a sisterhood was renewed. Each new arrival was met with claps, laughter and hugs and a brief sharing of memories. Before we knew it, we had a full house and all hands-on deck.

As expected, each day started with beautiful voices raised in music followed by a morning devotion conducted by one of the women. It was not unusual to hear the laywomen unsuccessfully try to get out of delivering the word. Once they took the stage, however, they were naturals, partly because they were amongst sisters, but also because clearly this was not their first time sharing scriptures.

The Bishop Arrives

On Wednesday, the third day of training, shortly after lunch consisting of the tasty traditional cuisine of Mozambique (creamy peanut sauce, rice and other vegetables), the women returned to their seats to continue the afternoon portion of the training. The commotion at the back of the room and a loud whisper, “She’s here!” indicated that the country’s residing bishop Joaquina Nhanala had arrived in support of the women and the training. She was accompanied by a powerful delegation comprised of the District Superintendents Vitória Chefech and Boaventura Mazive, as well as Reverend Luisa Quilambo, the Human Resources Director for the Central Office. 

“This training,” the bishop said, “fulfills one of the top five priorities of our church.” She acknowledged that, while the women have already made a difference in their communities, the training would ensure that they did so even more efficiently. 

The women then narrated the story of Miriam, portraying her as playing an active role in leading the Israelites out of Egypt with the purpose of encouraging each other to come out of the background and be active and visible agents of change within their communities. 

Outreach to the Community

After four days of training and learning, a change of pace was exactly what the women needed to turn theory into practice. A field visit to practice listening, observation and assessment skills was the perfect opportunity to interact with complete strangers in preparation for their work once back home. For many, this activity was both exciting and unnerving, but necessary.  The destinations were different: hair salons, bus stops, open markets and conversations with street vendors. The feedback was both overwhelming and encouraging. Some women were outright dismissed, others felt saddened by the poverty-related stories that they heard, and others were pleasantly surprised by how interesting some strangers could be. Others were forced to get over their fear of meeting and talking to strangers, which they did.

In the spirit of preparing for the work ahead, the women had to plan a two-day workshop that they would facilitate by themselves, with no help from the facilitators, for a group of 40 women from four districts. This was by far the most daunting and challenging activity most had ever undertaken. It took hours and ended late into the night. Some admitted to “never having to think in so much detail.” Their plans were executed beautifully. Their collective presentation was an opportunity for each to show what they could do, but most importantly, the spirit of collaboration was noticeable as they consulted one another every step along the way and complemented each other where they saw one another struggle.

Confident or Humble? 

The workshop had the participants questioning some of their long held beliefs. For example, when the group was asked to write five positive traits about themselves, one participant declined, saying, “It is not right for me to say positive things about myself.” 

This discussion took over fifteen minutes: some were adamant, saying, “This is pride, it is others and not us who should notice and say what is good in us.” Others disagreed. Team Mozambique concluded their remarks, by explaining that self-acceptance means accepting the good and the not-so-good within us.

Closing with Prayer

Team Mozambique chose to participate in the Malhangalene parish service on Sunday morning because this was the same venue as the training. When given an opportunity to say a word, Dr. Catherine Akale, United Methodist Women Regional Missionary, took the opportunity to greet the members of the church, sharing United Methodist Women’s vision, and updating members on the purpose of the training as well as introducing all of the women on the team. She thanked the pastor for the opportunity to share and encouraged the congregation. Rev. Alzira delivered the sermon.

After the service, the women were ready to return to their communities and empower other women. The gathering of these sisters had once again come to an end. The thought of finally being home with family and parting with the sisters was bittersweet. They hugged, laughed, sang, prayed and bid each other farewell.

Anglina Mbulo is a journalist on the United Methodist Women Mozambique Country Team.

Posted or updated: 9/11/2020 12:00:00 AM

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*"Training for Transformation"

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