Nov 3, 2011
We stepped off the taxi, three of us this time, back in our village in South Africa. We began walking down the dusty road, towards the small house where the new Peace Corps Volunteers are staying in Dumphries. We saw a couple of girls a ways off and they looked in our direction. Immediately they started shouting “Matimu!” and pointed excitedly. In the ¼ mile it took to get where we were going,...
Nov 8, 2010
Our time is up. We extended a couple of months, but those are finished now too. After nearly two and a half years here in South Africa, it’s time to call it quits and head back home to America. We’ll be there to see all of you (or at least most of you) any day now.
But we’re not coming back with all of us. There’s quite a lot we’re leaving behind. We don’t have a choice really. In...
Oct 26, 2010
We arrived in South Africa on July 17, 2008 knowing we had committed ourselves to a two-year volunteer service with the United States Peace Corps. Emotions were high as we left everyone and everything we knew back home and embarked on a new way of life. We had no idea all the challenges and joys that South Africa had in store for us. Now we are preparing ourselves to leave, having completed a few...
Sep 27, 2010
Nothing is static with us. Everything is moving and changing, transforming from one thing to another, or even just developing subtle variations, but nothing is still. Blaise Pascal, the famous French mathematician and theologian, wrote: “Our nature is in movement, complete rest is death.”
In the same way, Dumphries, our village where we’ve lived and done development work over the last two years,...
Aug 26, 2010
“Mabiriviri! Mabiriviri! Kombela mabiriviri!” The kids continued to insist! “Chili peppers! Chili peppers! I’m asking for chili peppers!” Some kids do appreciate spicy foods (I think I was one of those kids), but if you’ve got a group of 5 or 10, some of them only 4 or 5 years old, do you really think they all want chili peppers? “Kombela mabiriviri!” in a big chorus. But...
Jun 18, 2010
“Laduuuuma!” The crowd went wild! Everyone in their yellow and green (and some also in red and blue and black and white) jumped up and down, screaming, flailing their arms, waving their flags, blowing as hard and as loud as they could on their vuvuzelas. Many were hugging, many more were dancing where they stood. Some ran down to the front and started a running parade that quickly grew in...
May 18, 2010
Early last winter, we accompanied one of our primary schools to a far-off township as their “Under 12” boys’ soccer team competed for the title of provincial soccer champions. It was an exciting time for us, to take an all-day trip with some of our school’s students and almost all the staff to a place we’d never been before and see what the larger sports competitions were like.
We hadn’t even...
Mar 6, 2010
A while back, we were at the taxi rank in Pretoria, which is where all the mini-buses for long-distance transport gather, waiting to fill up with people and leave for their destinations. It’s a lot like a bus station, but instead it’s full of white vans (taxis) filling every available space, whether paved or not, and passengers and vendors filling whatever space the taxis aren’t.
The vendors are...
Feb 7, 2010
Hi everybody. I thought that I, Lora, would try my hand at writing one of these newsletters. I found it quite difficult to put into words how my experience in South Africa has affected and changed me.
I was at the river one Saturday doing my washing, and when I finished I went for a swim with all the children who were already playing in the water. This side of the river had a different atmosphere. ...
Jan 10, 2010
There’s one thing always confronted here in South Africa: the tension between too little and too much. Any small amount of movement from place to place takes a person from one side to the other, in a very short amount of time. The movement takes you through the severe tension at the edges and indeed, even through a strong tension within, just for having the mobility to pass from one side to the...
Nov 7, 2009
For the past six months or so, we’ve been able to go to bed with relatively few disruptions. Few noises outside, and nothing inside the house but us and our two cats.
About a week or two ago, I stepped outside the house at night and saw one particularly large beetle scurrying across the ground, very distinct because of two large round and bright yellow spots just behind its head. I was a...
Sep 29, 2009
We’ve spent over a year now living in a village among the Shangaan (or vaTsonga) people in the former Gazankulu area of South Africa. Most of what perplexed or surprised us during the first few weeks and months and which sometimes caused considerable amounts of anxiety for us and the Shangaan people we lived closest to has now simply become a comfortably expected routine way of life.
Aug 29, 2009
I set out early last Saturday morning to gather up some 7th grade boys and wander around our village to take more pictures for the Yearbook project that I’m working on with them. We made it all the way back to the back of the village and were approaching the area where most of the village on that side does their washing in the river. Then we heard three gunshots.
We did some questioning and found...
Jul 27, 2009
We’ve been in South Africa now for just over a year. It’s crazy how time flies! I can still vividly recall our goodbyes at home, our initial training, our various expectations for what South Africa would be like, all our ideas of what we might do here. Our perspective has definitely changed in most of those regards, but it’s hard to believe we’ve really been working here for more than a year...
Jun 20, 2009
I know they say, “You are what you eat.” But if that saying were true, I’d have chicken legs and feet, the body of a locust, my brains would be made out of mopani worms, and my insides would be composed of mushy mealie pap and slimy green leaves and vines. Thankfully that saying isn’t completely true and a person can eat some pretty bizarre things and still remain at least reasonably...