In the late 1990s, two Mozambican refugees – who were recent Canadian citizens – returned to Africa to visit their home village of Kapasseni. There, they heard a plea from the village chief, who asked for help in rebuilding a school for the children there. Upon returning to their adopted homeland, Joseph and Perpetua Alfazema organized a successful grass-roots fundraising effort to breathe new life into the village. They allied themselves with the Victoria Canada’s Gettin’ Higher Choir, which to this day, continues to raise money Kapasseni and other projects.
Joined by several friends, Joseph and Perpetua then went back to Mozambique. With a truck laden with supplies for the village, they embarked on a treacherous trip over rough roads and mine-laden countryside. Among the entourage were Shivon Robinsong and Ben Fox.
Shivon was the founder of the Gettin’ Higher Choir, whose concert was the key fundraiser for the project. Ben came on the trip to take video and photographs. The journey led all of the travellers on an experience of a lifetime, where a depressed, war-torn village was brought back to life by the direct efforts of caring citizens.
Ben managed to capture intimate footage of the magic of the village, the changes the visitors brought to it, and how the travellers were affected by the simplicity, resilience, and joy of the villagers. His work became the foundation of Across Borders Media’s award-winning film Journey to Kapasseni: A Refugee’s Gift, which was broadcast nationally in Canada in 2000. In the ensuing years, Journey has been a key fundraising tool for Joseph and Perpetua’s work in Mozambique.
The Alfazemas eventually moved back to their homeland, where Perpetua founded Kuwangisana, an organization with a broader mandate that serves not only Kapasseni, but also the larger communities of Sena, Chemba, and Caia.
In the summer of 2011, Ben and Shivon returned to Mozambique to witness over a decade’s worth changes to Kapasseni, as well as the influence of Kuwangisana on the larger region. Thanks again to Ben’s images, this visit has become another film, Return to Kapasseni, which has become the new fundraising force for the mission of Kuwangisana. Return to Kapasseni is a testament to the effectiveness of global grass-roots philanthropy and local responsibility. Enjoy.
photos by Ben Fox (photo of Ben by Shivon Robinsong)