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!


Anonymous said...

Good luck with the language cramming!

Greg said...

Walking up a mountain and through a forest to a house with no water or electricity packed with kids and a dog? You seem to be taking this a lot better than I ever could, Rob. However, the computer project sounds promising.

Jan said...

Hi Rob! Your sainted mother mentioned that you are keeping a blog about your Peace Corps experience, so of course I had to check it out. Glad to read that you are rolling with the punches over there! (Kudos on the inventiveness in "repurposing" that flip chart. I am impressed.)

Of course you realize that, now that I know you are willing to eat goat spine in Swaziland, I will be expecting you to brave having dinner with us one night when you finally return to good old Ohio!

Take care of yourself!

Jan said...

P.S.: I suppose I should have signed that last comment "Mrs. C." I hadn't remembered that Blogger would post me as "Jan," which is not the way you normally address me.

Piratejenny said...

Hi Rob! Goat spine...that's eating high on the goat, right? It's great to hear of your adventures. Good luck with the language...

:) Sehvilla