It has come to my attention that my last post may have sounded a little bit down in the dumps, so I wanted to quickly change that perception.
Yes, there is a lot here that is extremely difficult, and so many times where you feel like you are just taking emotional (and sometimes physical) punch after punch. But honestly that is all just part of riding the wave. There are other times of great happiness and joy, and I will be forever thankful of the opportunity to see it all.
Although my mood is constantly fluctuating, it is all part of riding the wave. And ride we all do. It is ups and downs, highs and lows, and times where we struggle to find and particular word or string of words that can actually describe how we feel. (no joke, we have conversations about this among volunteers….I think there needs to be an expansion of the english language to encompass some unique feeling blends we have here)
But, until Websters takes our submissions, we continue to ride the wave. So, in light of the last darker blog post, let me hit you with some sunshine 🙂
First off, it is the land of greetings. You greet everyone, and everyone greets you. Someone walks into our room, where five of us sit, they greet the room as a whole, we all answer, then they work their way around the room, individually greeting everyone. You are asked constantly through the day, by the people you know and love, by those you pass on the street, where you shop, where you eat, where you linger. Anywhere and everywhere, you greet and are greeted.
I have talked a bit about death recently, but there are other parts of death that I don’t discuss that highlight some really beautiful community strengths. For starters, my always caring group of care giver peers has a system in place which we have unfortunately had to use a few times. If someone in the group has a husband or child that passes away, they go into a period of mourning. The care givers all donate 100 rand which the deposit into the account of the grieving coworker to make sure that money doesn’t have to be a concern during the difficult time. Funerals are extremely common, and are also extremely social events. While funerals for those taken from us too early are a somber affair, funerals for celebrated elders are full of celebration, love, community and pride.
Last week on Friday we got approval from the Chief to build an office for our home based care. The home based care I work for has been working in the community for 16 years, helping countless patients, and will finally have a place to call home for the center. Today is the first day of construction on the foundation. The excitement and pride from the manager of the HBC is contagious! We are all so excited to finally have a space.
There is so much happening project wise in my community right now that my days are happily filled with running from one place to another. The evenings are spent my favorite way, sitting at home, outside with my Gogo talking about anything and everything under the sun. I will miss these moments an unbearable amount when I have to leave here next year.
We had a bad storm hit recently, which resulted in a loss for my Gogo. The building next to mine was damaged beyond repair, and it now sits as bricks. Luckily, no one was sleeping in there during the night of the storm, but my Gogo lost much from her business and her home that she was not prepared for financially. When talking about this to my parents and sister from home, they jumped at the chance to venmo me some funds to help Gogo with the next steps. Gogo and I could not be more thankful.
Speaking of next steps, we are getting a jojo!!!!! Currently, my Gogo and I have to wheelbarrow water back and forth almost an hour to fill up our jugs. This is exhausting for my 70 year old Granny (and for me) and is a big burden. In South Africa, we have large water tanks called jojo tanks that you can pay a company to come and fill up. The tanks are expensive, and the water to refill is expensive, which is why until now, we just use the old school fetch and carry way. But happy change has come, and a neighbor of ours will soon have a tap that we can use to fill our tank. Because of this, we are now saving up to buy a jojo, which will make life much easier for her once I leave.
Some friends have left to to go to the city to start new jobs, which is fantastic considering the extremely low youth employment rate. Others have come home from university or finished contract jobs and are back in the community. I am happy to have them back again, enriching the community and making my life much more fun 🙂
As for trips, I have done much less traveling than I hoped with my time. When weekends also count as work days, those vacation days given annually just FLY right on by. I have so few left now, so I need to be careful of when I use them so I do not run out. We all know that a stir crazy Alyssa is not a productive one. That being said, one trip I have on the books for October will be a return trip to Vic Falls. I went with my parents on our vacation, but missed out on two adrenaline activities that I have to fit in. I will be going back to bungee jump off the Vic Falls bridge into the canyon below, and to swim in the Devils Pool, a pool of water situated at the top of the falls right on the edge. Hopefully these activities can curb my adrenaline needs for the near future.. If all else fails, there is always skydiving in Namibia for New Years…
Always riding the wave, but wanted you to hear some of the up swing too. I find myself feeling happier these days (even though the dreaded summer is here) and am having a bit of a love affair with my community, with the people in it, and with the wonderful world they let me be a part of.