February 8. Terra Nova.

We pay a visit to our cause here in Beira: Terra Nova, a start-up social company (in the sense of M. Yunnus) composting urban waste. Its goal is to recycle 90% of Beira’s urban waste – even mondially a quite unique figure for a town of this size. Sadly, local ngo’s are not interested in supporting the venture because of Terra Nova’s intention to make it profitable and hence sustainable. It deserves every support it can get and Charity Travel doesn’t need to think it over long.
We are dropped at the actual dump site where we see about 27 one-ton mounds of compost. Flore, the person behind Terra Nova and our couchsurfing-host (that is how we do it, remember?) shows us around and explains the process of composting. Sorting out metal and plastic, adding water and carbon-rich materials to make sure the resulting earth is not too rich in nitrogen. She measures the temperature which in some cases tipped eighthy degrees centigrade. We feel the compost with thick blue gloves and it is really hot in there. Decomposition in progress. It’s an amazing phenomenon, something that can make us feel alive and all. The hot broth of crawling organisms transforming the organical compounds into fertile compost, just the way they will do it to you and me if we are buried some day, it can be fascinating. Who invented the term dust to dust? Into a most fertile soil thou shalt be converted, and on thou back shall grow an o so fragile hyacinth.

After about three months the content of a mound has turned into compost, which can and will be sold in 50kg bags. Terra Nova has to fix the correct price to be competitive and still be able to operate as a social enterprise.
Today, they rebuild the shelter for the workers because it has been burnt to the ground. About six Mocambiquean young men put together a primitive shack that will give them some cover from the sun. They do identify with the project. They believe in it not only because they are getting paid. Terra Nova even contributes to their education and measures its success by the totality of its impact on the society, not by a partial result. This line of thinking is utterly important, you should know.
Around 2pm we return home, where we spend a calm afternoon writing about our experiences before we get some groceries to cook for our hosts. It is a tomato-avocado-apple-feta salad, spiced minced meat, oven potatoes and humus that I compose. The Shiraz made us talk more freely about who we are, before it knocked us out.

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Kamiel Choi

Dutch philosopher and poet, sometimes sharing thoughts on the internet.

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