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Real People: Meet Francisca, a Girl Mover from Mozambique
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Real People: Meet Francisca, a Girl Mover from Mozambique

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The Inspirational Story of Francisca

Francisca is a 26 year-old girl from Maputo, Mozambique. She is currently finishing her degree in Educational management and enrolled in the Girl Move Academy Project. She is passionate about community work, Mozambican fashion and Classic music (She plays the violin!). Her biggest inspirational role models are her mother and her brothers and sister.

She stayed with us for a week to learn about Fair Bazaar’s work as a “zebra start up” and we thought it would be a good idea to interview her and share some of her thoughts and experience as a Girl Mover.

Q. What is the Girl Move Academy Project?

A. The Girl Move Academy project is based in Mozambique, and consists on a new educational model that aims to reduce female school dropout rates, trying to break this social and cultural cycle in Nampula. This project is divided in 3 programs:

  • Believe: This program with the assistance of the Girl Movers and the mentors of the Academy aims to help the younger generation of girls (12-15y) to complete the elementary school, by being their role models, their “sisters”;
  • Lead: In this branch, the coordinators of the project and the Girl Movers give specialized training to the girls of Nampula that are doing the last two years of high school and the last two years of college, so that they can become mentors of the younger girls, helping the Girl Movers with the Believe project;
  • Change: this program consists in an intensive experience of 1 year, in which in the first 8 months the Girl Movers go to Nampula to help implement the Believe and Lead project while receiving academic training about leadership and social entrepreneurship. In the last months they come to Portugal to work in companies related with their final project.

Q. What did you do with the community of Nampula?

A. I am integrated in the Change program as a Girl Mover. In my first 8 months in Nampula, I used to go twice a week to the school that was assigned to me to help in the Believe program. Our goal was to create a safe environment for the girls to learn, so that they would not abandon school, trying to be a mentor and also a friend, making them feel comfortable to share their struggles as well as their victories. We were also a great example to them, passing on this message: “If you want to change your reality, you must stay in school”.

Every other week, on Saturdays, we would give training to the mentors about the academic training that we received in our program. These were the main subjects:

  • Personal development: Self awareness, what is my value, self motivation, emotion management, my rights, storytelling;
  • Academic development: time management, why should you study, written and oral communication, experiences around the world, study group;
  • Vocational development: goals management, life impact project, my country - facts and needs, my vocation, CV preparation, motivation letter;
  • Team work: interpersonal communication and feedback, team building, conflict management, creative problem solving, empathy.

I also had the opportunity to test my final project, by organizing a fashion show where I showed to the community that “calamity clothing” and my original designs made from capulana fabrics can generate a wardrobe that is fashionable and sustainable and, more importantly, feasible across all economic levels.

Q. Can you share with us one of the most meaningful moments you lived there?

A. One of the most meaningful moments to me was when I went to visit a house from one of the girls. It happened right in the beginning of my staying. We always had to go ask for permission to the parents for the girls to participate in our program, and we would usually go with the local mentors but this time I went alone with the girl.

The girl used to walk 1h30 to her house everyday. I remember walking for what it seemed hours and when we were almost there, we had to cross a mountain through a large forest where the girl helped me in the trails till we reached a house made of clay and reed. Her parents welcomed me with joy and I could see immediately they were a family that struggled financially. I asked the parents if the girl could participate in the program and her father said yes immediately. The girl had a twin sister that dropped out of school because she had a baby, and only studied till the 2nd grade of elementary school.

The family thanked me by giving me a bag of peanuts. I tried to say that it wasn’t necessary but they insisted. It was the only way they had to thank me for helping their child. This gesture touched me deeply. In my time in Nampula, I’ve noticed that the majority of people who struggled financially were the most generous of all. What they wanted was to thank us for supporting their kids with whatever they had to give us.

Q. What motivated you to start your fashion project?

A. When I got to Nampula, I realized that the only source of income of the families came from men, leaving the women in charge of the house and kids. In my view, this social and cultural trait was negative, not only because the financial income of the family was less than what it might potentially be if the mothers also worked, but also because it set a wrong role model for their daughters, saying it was ok to leave school and miss out on an education.

For me it was important to start a project that could help them make an income and was at the same time sustainable.

I am passionate about fashion and community work and so I’ve decided to mix the too. That was when my final project, which we called, “life project with impact”, came along. I’m still developing it but the idea is to use fabric scraps of capulana and “calamity clothes” and create new pieces with a unique and timeless design.

My goal with this is to give training to the women of vulnerable communities so that they can one day be a part of the production of these pieces, creating safe job opportunities for them and helping them to be a source of income to their families.

Q. Have you ever been in contact with a zebra startup? How this experience at Fair Bazaar could help you build your project?

A. No. Fair Bazaar showed me how fashion consumption can be profitable and sustainable at the same time. Several partner brands that work with you were a great inspiration to continue my Africa-te project. Beyond this, it was great to spend each day with a different team member to really see what everyone does and their responsibilities in the company. I’ve gained a lot of insights of new apps and how to manage social networks and the importance of storytelling to build a brand’s name and its identity.

Q. How do you see the world today?

A. From my point of view, in Mozambique there are 2 critical points that really concern me. The first one is the low investment on education. About 45% of the Mozambican population is illiterate. Which makes the Mozambican people very vulnerable and facing economic difficulties. Part of this is due to the limited conditions in which certain populations live and that local schools provide.

In my view, the investment is poorly distributed. Being very concentrated in the big cities. We need to balance this and realize that the other regions also should be entitled to the same learning conditions as the one I had in Maputo.

The other point is related to pollution in big cities. This is spoiling the natural beauty of my country. We’re not supposed to go to the beach and have bottles, packages and diapers scattered on the sand Apart from that, recycling is still a foreign concept by the Mozambican population. It’s crucial that we take time and resources to educate people, because there is no good practice without education.

Still, I have hope that education and hard work can implement change in my community.

Tourism is also a growing area and has been driving improvements. And I hope this continues, always respecting the culture of my country.

Q. What is your goal in life?

A. This is a difficult question but right now my main goal is to be involved in social impact projects, specially in communities with vulnerable women and to arouse interest about sustainable living in Mozambique, starting with the first step: reducing consumerism.

Q. One advice to the world from your heart.

A. A friend of mine from the academy used to say a quote from Pope Francis that always stuck with me: “Life is good when we are happy. But it’s even better when we make others happy”. And this is my advice to the world. Do good, and good will come to you.

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