What Up! (Eta!)
Khanysile here, yes, that is my Swazi name, pronounced Conni-see-lay. It means, "the one who brought light" (a lot to live up to, unless you include my fashionable headlamp). It's Thursday night, 8:45 PM. I am boiling water as usual and listening to Swazi radio, the English station. It's sometimes BBC, sometimes FIFA updates, and right now its bad pop music but I am kind of loving it (Britney has really sunk to a new low with whatever this song is...). Week two on the homestead is over, and its gotten much better than the first week. I feel much more comfortable with my host family, in my hut at night, and even just walking around.
I also had my first bout of homesickness. It was last Sunday, which was our first day off in 2 weeks. I was planning on going to church with my family but did not have anything formal to do. I guess having that free time set something off and I got really sad and had a WTF moment. I put on my Phillies hat, thinking it'd make me feel more at home. Then Bhuti knocked, time for church. As much as I wanted to sit and wallow, I went to the service and it passed. There will be more, they will last longer, and they will all pass - that is the important thing to remember. I was there for about 2 hours, its right near our homestead. My Babe is a pastor, so, I am the pastor's daughter, which sounds like an upcoming Lifetime Original movie. It is a Nazarene church, which ironically is across the street from my home in Jersey too. As not religious as I am (the embarrassingly cliche, "I'm spiritual"), I really enjoyed it. The whole thing was in siSwati, but I had been provided with an English bible. The songs were the best part, it was very off-the-cuff and felt natural for everyone to join in and harmonize. Not that my voice would have helped out, but it would be cool to know the words. My teacher was actually there and sat next to me which helped to understand what was going on. I was the only white girl in the whole place so all the children stared, but I was introduced by my teacher and then everyone came up to me to say sawubona. I have never seen such a tight community in a church, I really liked that aspect. It was a good experience and I can see myself attending church to help integrate.
The rest of the week was fine. We had a long stretch of village days, without going to the Teachers College, so we were all excited about doing that on Wednesday. We had a lecture on alcohol, how it can be abused by volunteers and why, especially in Swaziland, that can be bad because many Swazis don't drink. We were then introduced to some local beverages, and I found out that Merulo, a beer made from a local fruit, is gluten free and sold cheaply by the jug when in season. Its definitely better than Redbridge. We also got our first introduction to our projects, of which there are two this year: Health and Education. I am a health volunteer and it was really exciting to finally get to hear from current volunteers about their experiences meeting the goals and how they have adapted their skills/interests to meeting our objectives. It reminded me that we have a purpose here, which is easy to forget on a village day learning language and culture. Its interesting to note there are many success stories coming from the volunteers, many failures I am sure too. Interestingly, we found out that 1/3 of volunteers from Group 7 are extending for a third year. While I do not plan to extend, it is encouraging that they are enjoying their service that much.
This Saturday we have a bit of an Iron Chef cook-off, using recipes from the Swazi PC cookbook and are divided into groups with a budget and a 2 burner gas stove. Because I am GF and another in our group is a vegetarian, we have some challenges, but I am sure victory will be ours.
Should be interesting! We go to town tomorrow, when I can upload this, to get supplies.
That is all for now, hope you are holding it down in your neck of the woods. Don't worry, I got Southern Africa covered.
Surprising Swazi Fact of the Week:
Dolly Parton is huge here (i thought of you every second, Whit). My Make was jamming to a Dolly CD this week and knew every word. I then heard it on a Khumbi (public trans van) the next day. I am linking this phenomenon to the missionaries.