Saturday 24 May 2008

Joachim in Mozambique with CARE Denmark

Photos © Billed Bladet/Kaspar Wenstrup

Prince Joachim has been busy in the lead up to his wedding. He recently visited Mozambique as patron for CARE Denmark to see programs CARE is working on. The visit was from April 26 to May 6 to see projects such as treating and preventing HIV/AIDS among orphans in Mozambique and giving access to clean drinking water and good sanitary conditions among poor families. There is also an account, explained by Joachim (below), of a micro credit loan scheme and its positive outcome for a widening circle of women, families and villages. Billed Bladet's Trine Larsen went to Mozambique and gives some wonderful reports on Prince Joachim's visit and the effects of the CARE Denmark projects in the places visited.

From Billed Bladet (no.18, 2008) 'Svært at se børn lide' - Hard to see children suffer (by Trine Larsen) Joachim visited a home for street children supported by Denmark a couple of days into his visit to Mozambique. Prince Joachim is patron for CARE and he is visiting Mozambique in order to see some of work of the organisation in that country.
Joachim said among other things, "Yes, it has definately become harder, [to see children in need] especially when I see children of similar age as my own boys. Then it's easy to see parallels and that is what hurts in the heart."
"Because so many of the children here are of the same age as my own boys, it really does make a big impression on me to see the condition in which they are forced to live. It hits deep in the soul, because these children are just a small group of the many who suffer.
The children we see here at the home are children who have had a bad start in life, but at the same time they have the best possible conditions in which to live, because they are with someone in a protected environment, where they get warmth and love and where the children who are a little older can go to school or get a practical education, which enables them to support themselves, when they leave at some point in the future. Certainly not all children get that opportunity, so it is just so touching to see these many children. It is just as bad to think that they are the fortunate ones - and that there are some who are much, much worse off. It affects me very much, because you can't help being hit by the realities. Street children are victims of poverty - and unforntunately the number of children on the streets are increasing in this country."
To a question to Jochim which was asked by a local as to whether he as a royal can even relate to how it is to be poor, he replied "That's why I had to be honest towards him and say that I can't. I have no chance in the world to really comprehend how dreadful a life these children who come here, have lived. Better to be honest."
How does he process the many impressions?
"I don't put as much emphasis on all the terrible things they have been thorugh, but rather that they have a future here. Among other things Redo from whom I was presented a painting, made a big impression on me. Apart from his skills as an artist he also spoke comprehensive and understandable English, so he has benefitted from the schooling. From a life as a street child in poverty he can live off his art and provide hope and inspiration to the other children of the home, who can see that it is possible to succeed." Prince Joachim is visiting Mozambique for eleven days.

From Billed Bladet (no. 19, 2008) 'Prins Joachim tabte sit hjerte' (by Trine Larsen) - among many things Prince Joachim went to a hospital in Tete and there lost his heart to a seven hour old baby girl and picked her up. By doing this he won the hearts of the local mothers, nurses and others who were present. They cheered him loudly as is local custom. "Of course I asked the mother whether it was okay that I held the little girl. As a stranger you can't just come and tear a little infant from the arms of a mother." "She was a lovely little girl who fortunately looked healthy and well. And it was a delight for me to hold her. A small light in all the misery, because the maternity ward is always the ward of joy and she was a little ray of sunshine. But her mother is also fortunate, because she is one of the few who have had the the opportunity to give birth in a place where there is the benefit of basic aid. The maternity ward and the hospital is light years away from the standard at home (in DK). We are talking about a hospital without windows and practically no doors. Here the sick and women in labor are committed in dreadful conditions with a great risk of infection. And what in particular caught my attention was the great suffering and the enormous poverty under which many of them live. And the worst thing is that this hospital is among the best, because it receives support from CARE and Danida. And then it does make a great impression on me to hear that diseases like pneumonia and diarrhoea, things which hardly concern us at home, are among the top five of the most lethal diseases among the children down here."

From Billed Bladet (no. 19, 2008) 'Forærede sine gaver væk' - Gave away his presents (by Trine Larsen)
Joachim visited a village in eastern Mozambique. Here he saw first hand how micro-loans aimed in particular at poor women work. Joachim was present at the weekly meeting among a number of women who have recieved a micro-loan. Each woman puts their surplus in a communal box, from which they can borrow and to which they pay interest.
"Because it's the women's own savings from their own means, there is a great solidarity and the money is only handed out from the box when it is strictly necessary. And if we are talking about major communal investments, like the purchasing of a goat, then everybody must gather and discuss it and agree on it. There is consideration behind every penny they spend," says Prince Joachim.
Prince Joachim was presented gifts by the women, who sang and applauded while they handed him his gifts one by one: two handwoven baskets, a bowl of fresh eggs, some white beans, five kilos of rice and two live chickens.
"It was incredibly touching and it of course made a deep impression on me, when some people, who have so little, yes, almost nothing, give me such precious gifts. But that does show that the micro-project is a success. That it has started well, so that the people of the village don't starve and even have surplus to give away something to others. It's a really good project which spreads from village to village. It makes the exposed women stronger and gives them self confidence and independence. When you help the women, you help the whole family," says Prince Joachim, who did however [diplomatically] return the gifts.
"I thanked them and told them that it wasn't out of ungratefulness that I returned the gifts. On the contrary, but that I could not bring the live chickens with me on the journey through Mozambique. So I said thank you for the presents and their great generosity. They are gifts presented from the heart and they are certainly received gratefully by mine.
Men are not included in the micro-loan-project.
"Men down here have a different priority than the women, who take care of the families. The men here are acting a little more impulsively..... in contrast to at home in Denmark," he said laughing teasingly. "No, I did indeed tell the men that there was no harm done in giving the women that right and the opportunity to make money and they nodded in recognition. They were actually proud of their women."

From Billed Bladet (no. 19, 2008) 'Joachim på skolebænken' - Joachim at school (by Trine Larsen)
Overpopulation and the rising numbers of people with HIV is a major problem in Africa and not least in Mozambique.
As most are illiterate, the information about family planning, nutrition, hygiene and health-care issues and how to prepare nutrituous food for children is conveyed through theatre.
Joachim wittnessed such a performance in the village of Ampita.
"It's good graphic education and it's a good way to play-learn serious issues. And it's a good way to show the population that so little is needed to change one's daily habits. This is the case in both cleanliness but not least in relation to family-planning and protaction against HIV/AIDS. It was cheerful, but certainly no-nonsense, because there was indeed a seriousness behind it and it has been proven that it works," says Prince Joachim.
Prince Joachim also saw the village ambulance: a bicycle with a carrier.
He also went for an interesting walk through the island of Ilha de Mozambique, the former capital of Mozambique, which is now in ruins. It is on the UNESCO list of places to preserve. There is a huge fort on the island and also a well preserved church, lovingly cared for by unpaid volunteers.
His guide was the Danish architect Jens Hougaard, who is working on preserving and restoring the houses on the island.

Prince Joachim in Mozambique for CARE Denmark (in Danish)
See CARE Denmark's photo gallery of Prince Joachim in Mozambique

A huge 'thank you' to Muhler!

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