Saturday, April 21, 2012

Fair-weather Muslim

I was hanging out with Amnesty a couple of days ago trying to figure out some details for the Cleaning Campaign, which has been scheduled for the end of July.  Amnesty is a 25- year old Muslim living at the camp, and has become one of our best friends here in Swaziland.  We often exchange books and media, and this time he decided I should read a book entitled “The Major Sins” written by a Muslim prophet.  I am deeply interested in the Muslim culture, so I was excited he trusted me with this book.  We still had more to talk about, so I put the book on the ground.  Amnesty gasped and explained to me that the book must never be put on the ground. (I think in the next 30 minutes I made the same mistake about 3 times.)  Then he explained to me that when I am reading the book I must always bath before hand, sit down with my legs crossed, and wear a headscarf. I was a little hesitant to take the book considering all of these pre-conditions, but I took the book and carefully carried it back to my hut.  Although I don’t abide by all of the rules, I have never put the book on the ground again.

I have been spending a lot of time at the camp trying to wrap up some projects before the end of the term.  It hasn’t always been seamless, but I think we did pretty well considering we really have no idea what we are doing.  Ryan, Bethany and I have been teaching an HIV Education course at the camp, and we finished this past Monday.  It was awesome.  It feels good to actually have done something from start to finish that was a success, and to have the students be so excited to attend class and do their homework, which is something so foreign coming from America.  As a final project for the course we had them get into groups and make information posters that we could put up in the clinic to educate the rest of the community.  We gave them a week to finish their posters, and really didn’t know what to expect or if they would even do the project.  The result was awesome:

Tuesday was our last TEFL class of the term.  We gave them an end of the term exam and will assess the results during the break.  We also have a TEFL training coming up in May, which I’m hoping will give us a lot of good tips and ideas to improve the class.  The class thus far has been very successful and we have all seen improvement with our students even just over these past couple of months.  

The next couple of weeks I will find myself out of site quite a bit. Next week is Camp GLOW and I am excited to hang out with all of the girls and my counterpart, Zandi.  I will be conducting a Grief and Loss session with Zandi and will also be making Sanitary Pads with the girls – because that’s kind of my thing now. After Camp GLOW Ryan and I will be attending a 4-day training covering TEFL, Early Childhood Education and Permaculture. Although I am kind of over trainings because I have been to about a zillion now, I am excited to take our counterparts and see what they get out of the sessions.  Also, it is always fun to hang out with them outside of our community.  After training, Ryan and I are taking a vacation to Mozambique! We are going to an island off of Maputo called Inhaca and hanging out in seclusion for 4 days! I am very excited.  I haven’t been to a beach in sometime, and I have been to an island never, so it’s going to be fun.  This vacation is in celebration of my birthday and our 3 year anniversary, and also because we live an hour away from Maputo and why not?

After all of that craziness, I plan on hanging out on the homestead in our hammock for at least 3 months.  When I first moved here I never thought I could call it home.  I never thought I would get use to bathing in a bucket, doing my wash by hand, or being able to sleep through the dogs barking or the chickens.  Now, all I want to do is hang out on my homestead, work in our garden, and build stuff.  Although I do still hate those damn chickens. 

PS – Today while I was cleaning, out of nowhere there was a snake slithering on our floor.  Ryan and Babe John were not on the homestead, so I called my Sisi Andile who bravely pushed it out of my house.  As per usual here in Swaziland, she then killed it with a stick.  Oh the joys of living in Sub-Saharan Africa.  At least it was not a Black Mamba, right Mom and Dad? 

“My country…It is coming for you”

 Not exactly words you want to hear coming from a Somalian at this period in time, but once Ryan fleshed out his English we found out that he actually meant, “When you come to my country, I will help you like you are helping me.” That statement makes peeing in a dirt hole for two years totally worth it.

We have been doing quite a lot lately.  I think the most entertaining way of going through it is with pictures!

First, cute babies!

This is our Sisi Andile and her baby Misosomusa. She is adorable, hardly cries, but does always decide to poop at the exact moment I am holding her.

This is our Sisi Gcebile and her new baby Tsitsetso. The two baby girls were born 3 days apart! Gcebile has moved to Mastapha to be with the baby’s father, but I am able to visit her and the baby a couple of times a month.

We also have had this little guy running around – Siphiwo! Cutest dude ever. Utsandzabhadla! (He loves to draw!)

 To finish the cute baby series, this is a little boy from the camp.  He stuck around while we were teaching our TEFL tutoring class.

Series 2: TELF Class at the Camp

We are now 11 weeks into our TEFL class.  They are really showing improvement, and their desire to learn continues to amaze and impress me.

Series 3: Mid Service Training

Ryan and I attended our Mid-service training with two local counterparts, Amnesty and Bashin.  We had a great time and have our next year pretty much booked with ideas. These guys are the best!

Final Series:

And of course, we have a lot of time to have a lot of fun.  I traveled to a nearby volunteer’s house who has the pleasure of living 30 minutes away from this:

Next time on Abrakadafrica:

Working with women on Income Generation Projects at the Camp!

Working with the NGO Junior Achievement at our local high school! We will be making emasanitary pads kakhulu! About 500 of them to be exact.  It’s a good thing I now have a sewing machine!

Until next time,

Stay Classy America!