Friday, October 7, 2011

Happy Doc-tober!

The pace has been picking up in Shewula, the city that never sleeps, that's what they call it (no one calls it that). But my schedule has been more busy. I have tried to develop some sort of a routine, and it's been helping me feel productive. I even started running which isn't the most enjoyable hobby but if you could see my route, overlooking the valleys and hills of Mozambique and a beautiful dam, then it's really not so bad. Some of us are training for a half marathon (if you knew the pitiful amount I was running you'd know how great of an undertaking this truly is) and then we are bungee-jumping one of the highest sites in the world. That's April, part or none of that may come to fruition, but its fun to think about.

Now that I have been meeting with my counterpart, Busisiwe, I met the staff at the local clinic, the informal school and the "resource center". The informal school was a huge eye opener for me. I had no idea it existed in my community. My counterpart's husband, Robert, works at the school and we talked about how many children in the community cannot pay for school fees. Unlike America, primary education is not compulsory. Inside, there was a list of all the "OVCs" (Orphans Vulnerable Children) in the area and which of their parents were still living, if any. The school functioned as a form of education while Robert and his staff looked for donors/sponsors to pay for school fees in the formal schools. Not very sustainable, at all. They were funded for a long time by an Italian NGO, who had Robert visit Italy for a conference. We had an unexpected conversation about il formaggio and food in the informal school, I loved it. They showed me the library for the kids, which had about 75 books in it. A good portion of that was a volume of Managerial Accounting textbooks. Mind you, these kids are just learning to read English. I am hoping this is a good candidate for a popular volunteer Library Project.Then we visited the Resource Center in which boGogo who are supporting their grandkids (whose parents have presumably died) can sell handicrafts and other items to tourists. There are not many tourists in Shewula, but it was a great idea and I can't wait to visit these places again.

The next week, Busisiwe and I went to the Mountain Lodge on the far end of Shewula. I walked the 1.5 hours to Busisiwe's office and then another 1.5 to the Lodge. I better have buns of steel in 2 years. I was exhausted. But it was a breathtaking view and the woman who runs that place had also been to Italy for a permaculture conference. So we talked about gardening, and the environment. Unbeknownst to her, I just had read an article about Keystone XL which, if approved by the White House, will be, as NASA scientists say, "Game over" for Earth's greenhouse gas levels. Looking out onto the mountains and valleys below the Lodge, it was a shame to think that the decisions of a few people who happen to be very powerful affect such incredible natural things. ANYWAY....

Shewula Mountain Camp beauty.

As protests keep us at our sites and out of the cities, all I can think about is the protests occurring on Wall Street targeting "the 1%". Going to school so close to the National Mall definitely gave me the activist bug, and I am glad that the spirit of Tahrir Square has manifested on some level in Times Square (OK, for parallel structure's sake, I understand Times Square and Wall Street are probably nowhere near each other). Speaking of civil unrest, tonight is Game 5 of the NLDS and Doc is pitching, prognosis for the Cardinals? Negative. My October night away from site is tentatively planned for Game 4 of the World Series.

Random Swazi Fact of the Week: Instead of baseball, they have something called cricket here which I don't think is a real sport because no one gets dirty. But, Kyra has introduced me to Rugby, as it is currently the World Cup, which is like soccer and football put together with players that exceed attractiveness levels of both. Sonny Bill Williams. Enough said. Go All Blacks!

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