Wednesday, April 4, 2012
What a funny thing perspective is, it is all that matters and doesn't matter at all at the same time.
The past 3 weeks have been intense, crazy, up and down, and full of changing perspectives that don't matter at all. Here is post to catch you up on most of that.
Let me take a moment here to issue a warning about this post before you get too invested: It is a hodge podge. It doesn’t make much coherent sense. I NEED A VACATION!
For all of you incoming volunteers, don't wait 11 months to take your first out of country vacation. Just don't. Those little trips within the country don't count for long. You really need to get away to keep your cool. My friend Megan says it very well:
There’s an idea that you’re not a good volunteer unless you’re miserable (because you feel like you have to stay at your site to be a good volunteer). Having been there a few times I can tell you, you are a horrible volunteer if you don’t want to be there. Do your community a favor, get out if you need to. ...You’ll come back to site a better volunteer. Trust me.)
March 19th we started our Mid-service conference with a Counterpart workshop. This went so well and my counterpart was/is awesome, great, enthusiastic, motivated, and creative. I can't quite express how happy we both were at the end of the workshop, our Literacy plan for Emkhuzweni Primary School in hand. We both learned a lot and she got a view from the source of what exactly I am doing at the school. Wow, it was great.
Then the PC dropped the Youth Development schematic on us.... Splat. Our counterparts hadn't even left yet (though they had stepped out of the room). They made it very clear that this isn't really changing much, and it should fit in nicely with most of what we are already doing, open up some new opportunities for us and get the new group off on a good foot. But I'll tell you what.... It sure didn't feel that way. I felt like my world had been turned upside down and all the work I had been putting in to my school was falling out of my pockets like change in a turned out pocket, including the successful counterpart workshop.
What would happen now? What does this mean for my work at EPS? How do I balance what I have already started, what I still wanted to do, and all of the new opportunities that I wanted to pursue and were now open to me with the YD schematic? And all of that while remembering to see my PCV friends, avoid losing my mind by taking vacations, and go to the darn physical therapy that my ankle would require (a week at least).
Grief and Loss... This was really helpful for our group. I feel like I personally got something out of it and I love how close our group feels now. It was a great opportunity for all of us to get to know each other much better. It solidified our Group 9 family like we hadn't been before. We talked about our personal losses, the losses most Swazi's suffer, the losses we suffer here in Swaziland, and forgiveness.
Unfortunately during this part of our MSC I got a call from my Make letting me know that one of Lihle's kittens had been killed.
You remember them? Four of them: Chip, Gaston, Lumiere, and Belle. They had all been staying with me in my hut and in preparation for the conference I tied a sheet around my burglar bars on my window so that they could climb it to get in and out. Well, near this window I keep my ironing board. I imagine little, sweet Chip tried to climb the ironing board and it fell on her. She was crushed. What a traumatic thing, and there is more that makes it all a bit worse, but it’s not worth telling (too sad and stressful). Just know that it was incredibly sad and really exacerbated the whole situation and the way I had been feeling since the end of the CP workshop.
This is where perspective becomes a funny thing.
A Few days after I returned to site, a homestead right next to mine had a fire. Three buildings burned down. Everything in them was gone; a kitchen, a sitting room, and one other hut.
A cat died. --- In the big scheme of things, and especially in Swaziland this is small potatoes. But Make and I were and are very upset and grieving, and trying not to blame ourselves, it felt like a big thing. So, with perspective, especially after grief and loss and the fire it would seem that this is not such a big event- but no matter how we looked at it, it didn't make us miss Chip less, or feel less sad about her untimely death. And I don't mean to play down the fire. That is a huge thing. Everything you own takes forever to be able to buy when you are living on about $3 a day. We are trying to help them however we can, it's hard to know what to do, but keep the family in our thoughts and prayers.
On a happier note: All of the remaining kittens have designated and good homes. Unfortunately, our friend Faith will not be getting a kitten. (I still haven't told him because it is too sad and I haven't seen him or talked to him since it happened. So, Faith, if you are reading this, I apologize for not telling you earlier. But if you want we can look for another kitten for you. Maybe at the Swaziland Animal Welfare Society http://www.swaziplace.com/saws/.) Also, while I was gone Make fed the kittens cinnamon rolls.... What a hoot!
After 5 days (Sun-Thurs) back at site figuring out how to deal with EVERYTHING that was going on, and also at school trying to maintain the work that I had already started (the English club and computer club, which were both exceptional during this week and definitely helped), I felt much happier to be home and could look forward to all of my opportunities in the community and my upcoming vacations.
Then it was time to leave again. I had to start physical therapy for my ankle that Friday. We had initially guessed that I would be there Fri - Sat and then would go straight to Lidwala's (a backpackers in the Ezulwini valley) for my planned staycation with Mia. Instead, I ended up traveling 2 hours for 1 hour of PT and then had to turn around to spend another 2 hours on transport to go back home. We would start my PT the following Monday. So, Saturday was a relaxing day at the pool with some mental recovery time, then off to Lidwala's. Which did exactly what I needed it to do. It felt like a vacation. On Monday I headed to the med hut for 4 days of PT.
And here we are....
I would be heading straight from the Med Hut to Pretoria, but I forgot to pack my passport (palm to forehead). So, I will be headed home tomorrow afternoon to retrieve my passport and re-pack into a smaller bag. I must say that I am very happy to see Make and the kittens before I go. I am really feeling close to all of them at this point. So, as much as it is a bummer to have to pay for transport back and be on the road by 430am Friday morning to leave in time to catch transport, I am happy that I will be going home. Not to mention that I will be able to unload the 2 AWESOME packages that I have received since arriving at the med hut. Thank you TINA (roomies forever!!) and Mom.
I love you all and miss you. I appreciate your support and these past few weeks (months?) it has really helped me get by and remember to try to be my best self, even though I am exhausted. Thank you!
The next post should be something fun and exciting with 2 out of country vacations right around the corner. Maybe I will even be able to get Mom or Bobbo or Hannah or all 3 to guest post.