The Children of Mozambique Island

Mozambique is a place that is not too often talked about nor explored. And after having spent a month there, I understood why. I had copious mental breakdowns due to the conditions. I often wondered why I had decided to backpack through Africa in the first place. Europe would have been so much cleaner, safer, and if I died, my parents could easily come and identify the body.  Weirdly though, after I left Africa, Mozambique was the country I talked about most.

The best part about Mozambique was Mozambique Island. It’s a small island located off the coast of the northern part of the county and it’s a pain in the ass to get to. Unless you’re willing to fork over a large wad of cash to a local for a private ride, you’ll be traveling by various busses, vans and trucks for hours upon hours. All of which are full to the brim of people, their belongings, their crying babies and potentially their chickens. As awful as the journey is, it’s worth it.

Although it’s an island and there are a couple of resorts there, Mozambique Island is not the lay out on the beach and relax kind of place. It’s more of a soak in the culture and explore type destination. The whole island is full of old, run down Portuguese buildings which are now inhabited by the local squatters. A lot of which are children. During the day, while their parents are out at work or looking for work, they play in the hallways and foyers of the old buildings without a care in the world.

They are so innocent, giggling when they see a ‘mzungu’ (white person) and asking said mzungu for a ‘caneta’ (pen). Some are able to speak some English, some are not. All children, however, are able to communicate via photography. Once they spot your camera, they will stand and pose or look at you awkwardly until you snap the picture. Then they’ll motion to see the picture on your screen. The only thing I can compare their reaction to is how excited a dog gets when you bring it’s dinner (no, I’m not saying these children are dogs, I’m saying they both get very excited to the point of jumping up and down, sometimes even cartwheels).

Even after walking away from the children, they are still over the moon with joy having had this experience, laughing and waving goodbye like you’re an old friend. I felt very humbled and grateful for this experience in Mozambique Island. The children here live much simpler yet much happier lives than those in developed nations. It put a lot in perspective for me, and made me realize that my mental breakdowns were a bit dramatic and over the top. Here are some of the photos I took of the children on the island.

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