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IM siblings share brother’s Peace Corps experience

Mozambique friendly, impoverished, and sometimes ‘fast’

August 26, 2009
By LISA M. HOFFMANN, Staff Writer

IRON MOUNTAIN - Siblings Sean Mohundro and Emily Maule are back in Iron Mountain after a two-week trip to Africa to visit their brother, Patrick Mohundro.

Patrick Mohundro, a member of the Peace Corps, has been teaching English as a second language in Massigna, Mozambique for the past two years. He is in his final trimester and wanted to show his brother and sister what he has been experiencing.

Last month, Sean Mohundro, 22, and Emily Maule, 13, made the trip.

Article Photos

Siblings from Iron Mountain met with a traditional healer while visiting their brother, who is a Peace Corps volunteer in Mozambique. From left, front, are Sean Mohundro, Peace Corps worker Patrick Mohundro and Emily Maule. In the back is traditional healer, or “witch doctor,” Silvio.

Sean Mohundro said after he met up with his sister in Houston, Texas, the two of them flew to Atlanta and then Johannesburg, South Africa. However, they missed their flight and had to wait until the next morning to fly to Maputo International Airport, the main international airport of Mozambique.

Because the siblings were not able to call home, their parents hadn't heard from them for eight hours. They eventually did contact their parents.

Sean Mohundro said after leaving the Peace Corps office in Mozambique and walking a couple of blocks, his brother, Patrick, started hitchhiking.

"It's legal there and common to do that," he said.

Their first destination was a game reserve in Swaziland where the trio went on three Safari tours.

"We got to see a variety of wildlife - rhinoceros, giraffes, elephants, wild boars, hippopotamus, hyenas, zebras," Sean Mohundro said. "It's so completely different to see them in pictures than in person."

Emily Maule said she thought the animals were pretty cool.

Sean Mohundro added their tour guide told of the animals' social habits and tracking devices.

After the second tour, Sean Mohundro said it was night and a hyena walked in front of the vehicle and stared right at them.

"It wasn't threatening at all. I was really excited to see these new animals," he said. "They treated us very well at the game resort for an affordable price."

Emily Maule recalled walking out of the hut and noticing a long line of caterpillars connected together. It was four feet long, she said.

Patrick Mohundro, 24, graduated from Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University in May of 2007. He then signed a 26-month contract with the Peace Corps and was stationed to Massigna.

Besides teaching English, he started an art club for students ages 15 to 17. During the time his siblings visited, Patrick Mohundro was on holiday break, but he showed them the school and the computer lab where he communicates back home.

Besides e-mail, he communicates with his family through Skype.

Patrick Mohundro said his favorite part about the Peace Corps is the people in Mozambique and the way his perspective of the U.S. has changed.

His appreciation for so many of life's luxuries has grown.

"And, to say my experience has only been one experience would be short-sighting the whole Peace Corps program," he said.

"Some of my favorite experiences have been my home-stay training, where I spent my first three months with a Mozambican family, cooking, cleaning, and eating with them as I learned the language and how to be a English teacher," he said. He has enjoyed "traveling Mozambique, Malawi, and finally through Tanzania to get to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro, and building new relationships with volunteers from all over America and my Mozambican colleagues."

Emily Maule, who will be a freshman at Iron Mountain High School, said the trip made her realize what life is like in Africa and makes her want to clean up the world, start recycling and "go green."

Dirt roads covered in garbage will be a lingering memory from the trip, she said.

Sean Mohundro said he is not interested in joining the Peace Corps, as he has a relationship and wants to start a career when he finishes college. He was grateful for the experience to travel to visit his brother.

"We were able to see such a different culture but at the same time see how much like us they are," he said. "We just think they're different but really they are the same," he said of the African culture. "They are very friendly, always willing to help."

Sean Mohundro, a student at Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD), said a week before he went to Africa he was in New York where there was not a lot of eye contact and people were "very closed."

He mentioned how amazing it was on the tour bus in Africa when people communicated with others they did not know.

While in Africa, the visitors ate a variety of foods they cooked themselves. They also purchased many different fruits and vegetables from the market.

"We made spaghetti with a lot of tomatoes we mashed up. We even made pasties," Sean Mohundro said. "My brother's friend didn't believe there was such a food. He looked it up in the dictionary and it was in there."

"It was a lot of fun," Emily Maule said.

Because it was winter between July 12-28, the temperatures were in the 60s. Nights were cool and it was warm during the day.

Another experience the siblings had was a request of Sean Mohundro's - meeting a traditional healer or "witch doctor," one who communicates with the spirits.

The doctor"s language was translated to Portuguese and then English. Sean Mohundro said the experience of that meeting was interesting.

Although Mozambique has been independent for 14 years after a long civil war, there is no running water.Sean Mohundro said if there was running water, it was from a spigot. In order to take a bath, water had to heated and then poured.

Emily Maule added cans of soda were very heavy as steel is used for the cans. She said when the soda was gone, the can still felt heavy.

The siblings said a lot of public transportation is used. They traveled in a small 1980s van with four rows of seating and four people to each row for a total of 16 people, but the driver tried to fit more people than that in the vehicle.

Speed limit signs say 100 kilometers per hour, which is 62 mph in the United States.

"There is a lot of passing at 100 (kph)," Emily Maule said. "It feels fast."

The siblings said grocery stores take Visa and the country is very Westernized. There is, as well, a gap between rich and poor.

"It (the country) didn't feel different. The houses are built different, but the people are friendly," said Sean Mohundro.

The siblings are the children of Doug and Pam Maule of Iron Mountain.

Lisa M. Hoffmann's e-mail address is



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