I began to write a post about two weeks ago. A little over half way through, life happened and I got distracted and since then so much has changed. I wanted to publish that piece, as well as an update that comes to you from my own words now.
February 12, 2019.
It is hard to believe that my time in Peace Corps is coming to a close. And while this is typically the time to being dreading the goodbyes in my village, I am at a surprising place of calm with it. Why you may ask am I feeling calm and collected in a time when I should be a frenzied mess of tears and fears? That would be Brad. The delightful human I mentioned to you all a few posts ago has become a rather serious part of my life. During this transition, not only has he been extremely supportive, but knowing I have this connection of his family back in SA along with my family in the village guarantees that I will be back to this part of the world on a frequent basis.
However, the countdown to crazy is on…and the crazy is leaving my world here, my village and my life and off to who knows what next adventure. It is Tuesday, Feb 12 and I am writing to you from a very hot room as my fan doesn’t even work due to load shedding of the electric companies. It is over 100 degrees. Moments like this make me excited to return to third world accommodation. My wonderful cousin Monica is somewhere in Germany, making her way to SA for a quick little trip before I head out. She will be around here until next week on Wednesday when we head to the capitol for my final Volunteer Advisory Council meeting where they will elect a new President. After my meetings on Friday I will be returning to my village for my last full week at home! The following weekend, I pack up the bags and head back to Pretoria to start my close of service.
My official last day of Peace Corps will be March 8th…but SA can’t get rid of me that quickly! I still have another month on my visa and plan to travel around. A quick trip to Lesutu with my friend from Peace Corps, followed by a weeks long trip on the southern coast with Brad to meet his extended family and grandparents.
When we get back we will enjoy the last week of March, and hopefully too his last week of work! Our plan? To be together. How? We have no idea! Much to our dismay, no country has yet to declare itself the land of lovers. There is no place we can live, work, date and be with each other with our two different passports and nationalities. And since there have been no updates to hardware on my left ring finger, we are trying desperately to secure him a work visa to the states.
He is a talented guy. Honors degree in Communication (while serving as Student Body President), and five years of work experience as the Media and Marketing manager for a power plant technologies engineering firm. We hoped that this would make finding a work visa less of a challenge, but so far we haven’t had much luck, even though he is willing to do absolutely any job as long as it means he can return state side with me.
For myself, I find the pull towards activism and advocacy more and more each day. When asked what I want to next, my answer usually falls somewhere in the box of wanting to do some kind of advocacy role in a political or policy sphere, ideally for a cause I am extremely passionate about like sexual and reproductive rights, or a variety of issues plaguing women. However, my job search is stalled at the moment until we hopefully can nail down the work visa for Brad. If anyone out there has any friend of a friend that knows a guy whose company is hiring and can give him a work visa, please let me know! It is a tough world out there for a couple trying to date with different passports, so any and all help or advise is greatly appreciated.
Now, let me catch you up….
Today, February 28, 2019.
So much has changed from the above plan. For starters, Brad and I are still together and his support through these past few weeks of changes has been so unbelievably helpful. We are still planning a return state side in the coming months. I am working my way through interviews, feeling out potential jobs and opportunities and getting excited about whatever comes next for me. We are still looking for any and all help in the visa department for Brad, but keeping good hopes that this will work out for us.
The trip with Monica was great! She was able to get to see some of my favorite hang out spots, come to the vil and meet Gogo and my home based care coworkers, and a whole lot of Peace Corps volunteers in the process!
The day after her visit I had my very last VAC meeting. I officially turned over the chair position to the newly elected President, and completed my last meeting as a member of the VAC. It has been one of my favorite parts of peace corps service, but I am glad to let it go and start looking forward.
This past week has not been at all what I was expecting. While I had experienced a plethora of emotions leading up to my “last week at site” when I finally returned on what was to be my last taxi ride back to site as a Peace Corps Volunteer, the overwhelming emotion I was experiencing was excitement. Excitement to see everyone and celebrate what we have worked on the last two years. Excitement about formally closing down this chapter of my life, and excitement about the next chapter in this crazy saga.
Monday, my Gogo was admitted to the hospital. She has been very sick on and off for over 7 weeks, and we have been trying everything to figure out what was going on. She had visited the clinic, I had paid to send her to multiple private doctors, and she was even referred back to the local hospital at one point for chest X-rays. All this time later, she was finally admitted with a diagnosis, which is the first step to improvement. She was diagnosed with Tuberculosis and Pneumonia. She will remain in the hospital until next week Thursday on IV antibiotics to cure the pneumonia, give her time to regain some strength, and then she will be able to continue the TB treatment for the next nine months at home. I am beyond happy to have answers finally, but also frustrated with the level of care she is receiving at the government hospital.
This past weekend also held additional sadness for my family here. Just two weekends before, we buried a sweet member of our family who passed away after a long sickness. She left behind three lovely children, the youngest not yet two, and a lot of family members saddened to see her go. This past weekend her 30 year old baby brother Reef passed unexpectedly. We are all shocked and saddened by this loss. I can not being to imagine the grief this family is feeling. They were both such loving people. I had the pleasure of getting to know each of them and the family over the last two years as they are relatives of my Gogo and stay in my village.
With Gogo battling illness, the family was worried that the loss of a son would be too much for her. Because of this, they are waiting to tell her until after she is released, and have postponed the funeral until next weekend so that she will have time to participate and properly grieve.
Obviously, there was no way I could leave this side with everything that is going on. Peace Corps was very accommodating and allowed me to extend my service back another week, so that I will now finish on the 15th of March. This allows me to be here the next week visiting Gogo twice a day in the hospital, will allow me to be home for the funeral to grieve with my family here, and then to close out my last bit of work in the village.
It really is a tough time for everyone this side. Any prayers you have please send to my sweet sweet family here as they navigate through grief, and to MaCyntia for a quick recovery. A huge thank you to my Peace Corps friends who have come with me to the hospital, called, texted, sent love and used contacts with the hospitals to make sure that she gets the best care. You all are rockstars and I love you so much for it.
I have had a few requests for pictures which I will post on my next update when I have internet, and am not posting from my hotspot. But I will attempt to include a few here and see how it goes! Hope all is well with everyone, and I will try to provide another update soon.
Top Left: Brad’s 31st Birthday, Then Gogo Thando and I on the Porch with Monica and Brad below, Top Right is us in NYC. Bottom left again myself, gogo and Thando, and bottom right myself with two coworkers 🙂