Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Permanent Site Visit

I have just returned from visiting my permanent site in Nkamanzi, Hhohho region. I am very happy with it, the people are friendly and there seems to be lots to do. I spoke to our MP, who told me about a computer project he was very excited about; I am eager to assist him with it. I am very happy to have a project available in a field in which I am confident. Mr. Siboniso Dlamini (the manager of the local Community Centre/NERCHA office) and I spoke to the volunteers at a number of Neighborhood Care Points (NCPs), which are places where orphans and children who need meals can come to eat and sometimes to learn basic English, maths (see how British we are becoming?), and siSwati. There is a clinic that is not too far away by khumbi, and myself and we went to visit it as well, learning about the availability of HIV testing and the populations that come to be tested.

More personally, I live at kaDlamini (there are so many Dlaminis in Hhohho, it's like Smith except that it's the King's surname), which is a 30 minute walk up a small mountain from the khumbi station. I will have to be careful never to buy more than 20 kg worth of things, lest I should be unable to carry it up the hill. The view, however, is absolutely to die for. The community is pretty far-flung, it takes an hour and a half on foot to reach the farthest NCP. Two days ago, I ate a chunk of goat-spine (not the bone, just the meat around it) with my hands. It was quite tasty, if a little awkward to get the meat out from the spurs around the bone. My new house has no electricity and water is apparently a considerable walk through a forest.

My new family (yes, there is another. Peace Corps doesn't do much to shield us from the culture shock; this is the second time my name, family, surroundings, and duties have changed in six weeks) is nice - lots of kids (~6) and a single mom, a common-enough pattern here in Swaziland.
There is a somnambulant dog, too.

My siSwati is still exceedingly bad; I can understand only simple sentences, and only when they are phrased in the way I expect. Fortunately, everyone here loves to laugh, which makes up for some of the gaps in the conversation.

We return to Nhlangano (the name means "The Meeting," as it is where King George the whatevereth came to meet King Sobhuza the Second when Swaziland became independant) today, and continue with our training for a little while longer (i.e. we are going to cram siSwati like mad in hopes of passing the Language Proficiency Interview a week from now)

I hope you all are doing well!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

More and more.

Hi! I have been posted for the next two years to Nkamazi, a place near Pigg's Peak in the Hhohho region, which is the other side of the country from where we are now. I am super-excited to have someplace to go, and I can't wait for site visits at the end of next week.
We had practice language tests this week, too, which caused fits of nervousness and embarrasment across the board, but our group did pretty well on the whole. But a 15 minute interview in a language you didn't speak three words of a month ago is stressful, even if it's over simple things like the weather and what your parents do.

We have The Worst Flipchart Ever. It is forever falling down and skewing to the side and generally messing up. However, I connected two hoses with a leg from The Worst Flipchart Ever, so it turned out to be useful after all! We were trying to fill a tank on the other side of the yard, and had hoses that wouldn't fit together. After we boiled the ends of the two hose pieces (to expand them) the flipchart leg joined them perfectly! I reckoned it a great success, even at the cost of temporary damage to PC equipment.

Thank you all for commenting! It's very encouraging to hear from you all!