Published: June 3rd 2011June 3rd 2011
Monday, May 30th 2011 @ 1030pm
I'm laying in bed after the longest day yet. I'm quite up and down with feelings all day everyday. I miss home like never before but I am getting more comfortable here. I know that this will be such a great experience, but the thought of being near anyone I know/love is seriously tugging at my heart. I woke up at 730, had breakfast (which is a piece of plain white bread.. woo) and tea, than we walked 20 minutes to the orphanage. As soon as we walked up, the children all race to us in order to hold our hands - they will literally push each other just to get to a white hand. They break out in song (there's litterally a song for everything) and we play for a bit until the first lesson. There are 3 classes, age doesnt really matter.. its more about ability. There is Baby Class B- which is the lowest class.. most of them are between 2 - 4 and can't read or write very well at all... if any. Baby Class A is above Class B, but still struggle with reading/writing.. most know the alphabet and simple math, no more than single plus single digits. Mddle class is the highest class- they learn double digit numbers and 3-word rhymes and things like that. I taught Baby class A today and we started with math.. basically just 4+8 and things like that. There are a few kids that totally get it, while others just write random numbers and turn it in. After about 2 hours of math, we take about an hour break where the kids play and eat porridge - i ate it and its so disgusting but I'm constantly hungry that I have to down it. After break we do another lesson, so we went to spelling. I just did a lesson on "fill in the missing letter" and wrote parts of the alphabet- for example, A_C_. Some kids get it, and others put W or S or whatever they feel like with no rhyme or reason. It's also tough because the kids dont speak english... they can say "teacha, pencil or rubba, toilet, how are you today" and thats about it and my swahili is coming along quite slowly so its interesting. After we finish the lesson, its around 2pm and the kids stay and we head home for lunch. Lunch is nearly always rice and beans (so is dinner) and with a slice of avacado. I am already sick of it, and I have a LONG ways to go. Food here is hard to come by, and we dont have access to the kitchen.. the women who takes care of the house (Bibi Sarah) cooks for us so if we dont like it, we dont eat. There is only a little bit so we have to divide it up between the three of us volunteers. Today I had a piece of bread for breaky, beans/rice for lunch, and rice/eggplant for dinner. My stomach needs to shrink so I stop being hungry and thinking of food all the time. And the only food we eat is high calorie carb meals to try to keep us full with a small amount. Uck.
After lunch, I headed over to Lunkendane and met up with Crispin. We brainstormed over the malaria project and came up with a rough draft plan. Well, I came up with it - he's basically said that I need to write up everything and design the entire thing all day everyday (he's apparently not going to be a help in it) sooo that will be interesting. i'm excited to do it and all, but I also expected him to be a bit involved in it. Its quite a massive task to do by myself, i would love a partner to help with this project but I guess I'll learn to cope. This week I will be writing up some type of plan/proposal, as well as some letters of appointments to local clinics, health initiatives, and schools to see what materials are available as well as set up times to go into the schools to present my malaria education campaign that I will be designing. 6 days a week I will be doing education outreach to different groups including the HIV/AIDS home visits group in which I will be visiting the homes to do check-ups, and intergrate malaria education into that; presentations to the microfinance and homeless mother womens groups; and saturdays I will be organizing all past and present orphans of tamiha to do a weekly "community clean-up" in the morning by going around the community and picking up trash and placing propganda (hopefully I will be able to purchase some large trash bins that can be placed around usa river) and show the community that a trash-free environment not only looks nicer and improves sanitation, but it also helps to prevent disease by removing resovoirs that attract parasites. As the project evolves and I continue to come up with more ideas, I will update you all.
Tomorrow I will be doing home visits with Jake and Jonas, and we will go with 10 kids to their homes and meet the families, get their stories, ect. We were supposed to do it today, but Africans seriously have a schedule of their own. Its acutally unbelievably frustrating and hard to not take it offensively beacuse EVERYONE has cell phones here and its so cheap to call that its just rude to not call and let someone know that you are not coming or are running late. It's already happened nearly daily since Ive been here and it kills me! Back home, that just would not fly. Its tough to not compare things like that.. but its just common curtesy! Wednesday I will be doing the first HIV/AIDS home visits so that will be a big experience I think. Tomorrow is Jonas' last night so we are having a farewell dinner and I guess its more food than usual so thats a great thing, but I would have liked Jonas to stay longer becuase he was a nice kid and absolutely loved it here and spoke fluent swahili so it was nice to have him around, plus he liked to talk which is nice for me. Jake is warming up a bit, but still really sick- maybe if he wasnt so ill than he'd be more social, but he asked me to play cards today so that was fun. When I was in the States, I really didn't think I would miss the fast paced life or civilization, but I DO, SO MUCH. The things I would do to just have internet or tv or LIGHT. its so tough living without electricity, its on for only a few hours a day, and that is
when I am out working usually. We eat dinner by candle light, which I only enjoy if I'm eating a nice dinner in argentina with my boy. Darkness is acutally quite depressing, I'm used to falling asleep to the sound and flickering of the tv, so its really hard to fall asleep here. Don't get me wrong, I am happy that I am here, its just that I would do just about anything to have someone here with me.. loneliness may be one of the worst feelings in the world. It makes me sad to realize that becuase I've never felt true loneliness before, but so many people do. Maybe when I get home I'll spend some time volunteering at an old folks home- being alone, especially right before death is such a terrible thing to imagine. I know that I'm here for a good reason, but my selfishness sometimes gets the best of me.. usually at night before bed (when I write these so dont worry, I'm not always this negative or depressing!) Being around the kids is a great thing. I never have an empty hand or lap if I'm sitting down. I wish I had someone to work with on the malaria project, its much easier to expand on ideas and whatnot with two minds. Oh well. To my loved ones, I miss you more and more every second and crave the sound of your voices/ touch constantly. I love you heaps, more than I knew I acutally did or that was acutally possible. This place has already given me SUCH an appreciation for what I have; and that is something that I will always cherish. We are so lucky to have running water and electricity and food and clothes and parents and friends and family and health and access to education and matresses and pillows and medicine and roads and shoes and police and trash bins and so many more things. I absolutely take for granted all of those things, and underestimate the importance of development. I think that is one of the things I am struggling with most, or that is holding me back from feeling as comfortable as I had imagined- I thought that these places dont acutally choose this undeveloped lifestyle.. but being here, it appears more and more to acutally be somewhat of a result of life choice. There are SO many simple tasks that could be done that people don't do. And its not like people are stupid here at all.. just prioritize differently. For example EVERYONE has cell phones, and its a damn village in africa.. i mean, really? Yet NO houses and buildings have gutters to collect clean rain water...instead they drink DIRTY polluted water that is full of disease. It would cost less to install gutters than to buy cell phone credit, but have a lifetime of beneficial usage and possibly extended life span. There are millions of little things like that, and I want to just change the whole place, but I can't if these people don't want it.
Thats another thing that I'm struggling with internally.. I had imagined my trip coming here and changing lives through outreach and education and saving lives through malaria prevention... and do still believe in that plan; but I also realize that i may be coming off as one of the people that I really disagree with.. coming into some other country/society and telling them how to live. There is a very fine line between trying to help/telling them how to live, and thats my struggle with defining the line. For example, I am SO against the US military spending so much time, money, and lives in the middle east trying to democratize the place. Who the hell are we to tell them that how they are living isnt right and the way we live is right? Its absolutely absurd in my eyes.. they have functioned for long enough without the US' involvement, so how do we think its okay to tell them that "it works for us, so it must be wrong for you to do it any other way." It's all relative to the place and the situation, and I am clearly not trying to do anything as large as democracy, but I do feel on a smaller scale that my actions may be interpreted as something of those lines. I know I am TRYING to help, but I fear that some may take it as a white person trying to tell them whats "right." Maybe I am going on a tangent, but just a thought. I do apologize for this blog becoming somewhat of a diary, but once I start.. I just cant stop!
Well, I guess I'll stop :] Lala Salama