By Isabel Dwyer
There are so many languages in the world but Mozambique has taught me that some things transcend speech. In the weeks leading up to the three flights it would take to get us from Dublin to Beira, I spent my time on Duolingo learning how to say ‘Bom Día’ over and over again. We flew over well equipped – or so we stupidly thought – with that and Obrigado in our heads. Turns out you need more words than “thank you” and “good day” to have a conversation. But just because you mightn’t have words doesn’t mean you can’t speak in other ways. I’ve learnt a lot in my three weeks here and I plan on continuing to learn throughout the fourth. That means more speaking without words and more listening without necessarily hearing anything. Instead, we watch. And they watch too. Sometimes we notice the boys from the hostel dancing and we join in. Everyone ends up boogying to Zimbabwean tunes for an hour without needing to say anything other than each other’s names. Or if a Young Africa student sees one of us struggling to mix cement (which is more than often), they’ll just laugh, grab a shovel and race over to help. When the local kids come to play on the campus in the evenings, they jump and wave at us and mimic throwing something. We understand instantly they want, and fetch a frisbee from our room. We’ll then play with them for an hour or two, singing and rolling around, the only word shared being “aquí! aquí! aquí!”. When we drive through Dondo in the back of the pickup, almost everyone we pass on the road gives us a thumbs up. We always give one back. And sometimes when we pass through Beira someone will approach the pickup and rub their fingers together in search of money. Or one of the kids we play with in the evenings will rub their belly to tell us they’re hungry. It turns out a lot can be communicated without ever uttering a word. Despite all the differences in the world and its many, many languages, some things will always remain universal. I have more Portuguese now, but sometimes words get in the way. Sometimes solidarity, compassion, and utter joy need only humanity to be achieved.