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Nilza's introduction

Maputo project participant

Posted 11:23PM on Tuesday, July 31, 2007 Pacific Time

My name is Nilza. I have always lived with my parents and I never imagined having to choose between them. I was still a child when I found myself living just with my mother and my brothers. At the start it was tough, because I was not used to the environment of the suburb, but with the passage of time I became used to it.

At the age of 6, I was enrolled in the Amílcar Cabral primary school, where I studied 1st to 5th grades. Then I went on to the Munhuana 1st and 2nd level primary school, where I suffered many privations, because the school was in a degraded condition. We had no desks and we had to sit on the floor, but it was the only school close to my house. Since I had no alternative, it was there that I took 6th and 7th grades. I went on to study at the Santa Ana da Munhuana Community School, where I took 8th, 9th and 10th grades. It was here that I trained as an ESH activist. In 2005, I stopped attending ESH. That was a very decisive year for me and a rather complicated one. I entered the martial arts gymnasium (Koguryo), which to some extent influenced my studies, because I was doing Taekwondo (WTF).

In this year the spirit of association awoke within me, and I joined the Maputo City Gymnastic Sports Association. I trained as a monitor in Aerobic Gymnastics. At the end of the year I took part in putting together a mural on the coast road in Homage to Samora Machel, with the painter Naguib. That was how my interest in art was born.

At that time I was learning how to make radio programmes, and I was already recording for a Radio Mozambique children's programme, "Expresso da Semana." But I was drifting away from this, because I thought the work with Naguib was more interesting, and I did not have enough time.

I always had political aspirations, and I dreamed of one day becoming a parliamentary deputy. So in September of that year I joined the OJM (Mozambique Youth Organisation) and they asked me to be one of the group producing the First Municipal District Information Bulletin. I wrote a report on the situation of the plastic arts in our country with Naguib and some students from ENAV (National Visual Arts School) for this bulletin. I became interested in photography, since that mural is a historic archive and I wanted a silent record, frozen in time, of those beautiful and emotional moments that I had experienced, to record the facial expression of people who walked past the mural or who stopped to take delight from those figures.

In November of that year, I took a course which had a major impact on me. This was a training course on home visits to people living with HIV/AIDS, and at a more advanced stage we would put into practice all that we learned. So there arose again the need to mark the life of these people through photographs -- obviously with their consent -- which show the trajectory of their lives up to the state they were then in, but also in the future (after they had access to treatment), and then append these photographs which, in my view, would be a magnificent picture of positive life.

2007 -- Now I'm taking 12th grade at the Francisco Manyanga Secondary School. Through AMODEFA (Mozambican Association for the Defence of the Family), I had the privilege of participating in the casting of a film of Generation Biz, and I was approved. There I got to know the work of the Theatre of the Oppressed - GTO. I was involved from the depths of my heart, and it led to this invitation to form part of this great and impressive UNICEF project that seeks to promote children's rights.

I am now working with the Theatre of the Oppressed Group, and learning theatre techniques. I had taken part before, in school, in some plays, but I confess that at that time the love for theatre had not yet woken within me. But, with the possibility established, through the Theatre of the Oppressed, and the sensation off seeing the public interact with the actors, so as to express their feelings, and to tale part in a collective and participatory search for solutions, as we do in the GTO, this made me see the wonders of theatre.

For me, theatre is life!!!

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Disclosing my HIV status was the biggest difficulty of my life. My mother has lost so many people to the virus and always said that she didn't want any of her children to have this disease.
Nwabisa Ndlokovane
Cape Town project participant

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