VARJ Project in Mozambique

Vancouver Association for Restorative Project in Mozambique December 2018

A few stats on Mozambique: By Frank Tester

If you go online you will find plenty of stats to embellish or contextualize what we are doing here.

Mozambique is one of the poorest countries in the world. It has a population of a little over 30 million with half living at or below the poverty line. While the country’s wealth has grown in recent years, this wealth has not benefited people who are poor. The difference between a small wealthy upper class and the 50% living in poverty has grown.

Poverty is prevalent in rural areas where only about 8% of the population has easy access to clean water, any electricity or proper sanitary facilities. Mozambique has one of the highest birth rates in the world. Poverty gives rise to petty crime in cities as people are desperate to survive and feed their kids by any means, the number of people between 20 and 30 who are functionally illiterate is about 50%.

Thanks to a history of being subjected to World Bank and IMF structural adjustment programs, education beyond primary levels is a luxury few can afford. The number of students attending university are few and most universities – thanks to the IMF and World Bank neo-liberal approach to the economy – are private, for-profit institutions only for the rich. The quality of education they offer is a concern. In fairness, under new and enlightened leadership, the World Bank has changed its policies and now recognizes education as essential to developing any meaningful economy. But there is a long way to go.

Half of the country’s budget is in the form of foreign aid.

In this economic and social climate, the country’s justice system is simply overwhelmed. This is the context for the restorative justice pilot project we are undertaking here; to explore the feasibility of doing something substantial to get RJ up and running in the country.

The best to all of you supporting and interested in the Vancouver Association for Restorative Justice.

Frank Tester

Three UBC Articles

Vale (Brazil) Mining and Human Rights in Mozambique

Human Rights and Mining Development in Mozambique

Coal and Conflict in Tete Province

Pictures from Mozambique of Training in Progress: By Trainers, Frank Tester and Evelyn Zellerer on the ground in Mozambique

The first picture (#1) is my flip chart listing of the 5 overarching ‘sensibilities’ guiding restorative practice as I undertake it. It is these sensibilities or concepts that I had subgroups body sculpt in today’s workshop. I previously sent an email showing this.

The second shot is of the agenda (#2) I created for the day. The third (#3) shot is of workshop participants in one of the subgroups I created when I started the day by asking them to tell me what they thought restorative justice ‘was about’. Each group then reported back with 4 concepts or characteristics they believed helped define what restorative justice is.

I used this as the basis for a discussion, as a way of getting the day started.

Participants taking a break in next photo (#4).

The next photo (#5) is down the side of the building we are using for training. It is an old church in the compound of one of the Presbyterian churches of Maputo. It has no power and the windows no longer close properly. When the wind blows, they bang around on the outside of the building. Nevertheless it works for our workshop.

Next photo (#6) of a women from Mozambique washing a large pot in the street.

As you can see in the next photo (#7) of our group in a workshop circle, it is a large and not unpleasant space. It is bright enough so that the absence of lighting is not a problem. I am running everything I need on batteries –  my camera and computer which I recharge in the hotel in the evening.

These are photos of those taking the workshop on peace circles and restorative justice doing ‘body sculptures’. I had them create sculptures to portray what are the 5 key concepts or ‘sensibilities’ relevant to restorative practice. What you see in the next picture (#8) are workshop participants portraying an aspect of the concept of ‘relationship’. In the next photo (#9) we have participants portraying the concept of reintegration. Body sculpting is a popular education technique I use in training.

We have a lively and engaged group, with a majority of women and some men associated in one way or another with the Christian Council of Mozambique.

Vancouver Association of  Restorative Justice

Photos by: Frank Tester