The handover in Manica was celebrated through song and dance, exhibitions by groups and AFSC recounting its history in Mozambique through photos and artwork displays ranging as far as 1986. AFSC issued certificates of appreciation to outstanding community leaders and community based organizations (CBOs). This was followed by speeches by Ana Chapo, OCODEMA board chairperson and Arlene Kelly, AFSC Board Clerk before the official signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). Before the signing ceremony, Arlene was dressed by one of the women’s groups in a Mozambique traditional outfit symbolizing friendship. Dereje was also dressed after the signing ceremony.
The signing ceremony began with Patrick Otipa, outgoing AFSC Program Director dressed in AFSC t-shirt, and flanked by a community member in the same colors. Justice Duri, the OCODEMA director dressed in OCODEMA t-shirt and was flanked by another community member dressed in the same color. These groups in colored shirts then approached each other and shook hands before each turned to their respective board chairperson to hand them the MoU. Dereje witnessed for AFSC and Gulambondo, OCODEMA board member signed for OCODEMA. The two chairpersons then exchanged the MoUs amidst song, dance and ululation.
Arlene said, “AFSC is leaving because you no longer need AFSC, you are able to support yourselves, we have grown together so much from when AFSC first arrived to serve alongside you.”
She continued, “The words I’ve spoken today will be forgotten but the actions like me being dressed will never die from our memories.”
After the event, Arlene and Dereje had lunch with OCODEMA board members. Among the things shared during the lunch meeting was the phase out process and future of OCODEMA. They also discussed OCODEMA future challenges. The sentiments expressed by the board members were that the phase out has been successful because of AFSC’s transparency, consultative and participatory process approach and the commitment from the board members, staff and communities. The board was very optimistic that OCODEMA will be successful despite funding challenges. Dereje emphasized the importance of the board keeping strong integrity and seeing to a fine reputation of OCODEMA.