As some of you might have noticed Wifi is scarce here and hard to come by. I bought a chicken sandwich today just to get a wifi password… and it didn’t even work so now I’m trying a different tactic… so hopefully someone will see this! Also a MUCH easier way to stay in contact with me is through whatsapp. Just add the app and allow other contacts to see you and I should be able to contact you… Otherwise get my number from my mom or Courtney Race J
A LOT has happened so lets just go through a “normal day” to update everyone on all the craziness that has been my life for the past three weeks.
I am currently living with a swazi family in Kamanzi where I have my own room, but still share common areas with my family. The household and land here in Swaziland is called a homestead. When a family offers up a space for a volunteer to live they also get to give the volunteer an “African name” that they will be known as for the entire 2 years of service. Ligama lami ngu Fisiwe Dlamini! (My name is Fisiwe Dlamini) “Fisiwe” means a wish. I was named this because my sisi has been wishing for a young women like myself. Which is super sweet. My sisi’s name is Betsibile, shes 21 years old and my first “real” sister here in Swaziland! I also have two bobhutis (brothers) ages 21 and 26 years old. Lastly I have a “make” which is pronounced like Maagay in English and means mother who works in the kings office and supports her family. The land on the homestead is basically all a garden with fresh 70+ cabbage and lettuce (for the winter harvest). The garden home stead is right next to a beautiful mountain. They have about 15 chickens and no other pets. It is a very calm and loving environment to live in.
I get up everyday around 6am to fetch water to either bathe with or to make safe drinking water with. Luckily I have a spout on the homestead, but it only works about 50% of the time, so at other times I have to go to the river to fetch the water. I usually bathe at night, because I’d rather not be freezing my ass off in the morning. Which is on another note of I bathe in a bucket/tub that I can kneel in and that gets everything clean that needs to be clean. And no dad I do not bathe for 45 min anymore its more like 5min as I have learned how to bucket bathe most efficiently!
My diet has consisted of boiled eggs ( I have a gas stove in my room). I also have been making peanut butter and honey sandwiches for lunches which have been quite enjoyable, but are getting old fast. My friend had goldfish today for lunch. I didn’t even like goldfish in the states, but I found myself drooling over them as salty snacks are hard to come by here. I also mash together avocado and tuna fish on a sandwich which is also pretty good. I always cook/eat dinner with my family at night. This has also turned into the time that I do language lessons with my younger bhuti. He is heading to university in August where he has to know English well so we are really helping each other out in many ways.
OKAY onto a “normal day”
6 am wake-up
(Bathe, get ready, prepare food, wash tubs, fetch water)
7:30-9:30 Siswati Language lesson with 3 other volunteers at my LCF’s homestead. (He always has tea, coffee, and cookies which is soooooo wonderful)
9:30-10:30 travel/ tea break
10:30-12 Lesson on something related to health or peace corps
12-1 Lunch time in the African sun!
1-4pm Another lesson on something else
4pm-5:30pm laundry/ dishes time on my homestead
5:30-7:30pm Prepare dinner
7:30-8:30pm Eat/ watch soaps on my familys TV
We only get Sundays off and I have been to church and hiking on my free Sundays. The area we are all placed in is so beautiful! I about a 5 min walk from other volunteers. The weather is really cold at night (gets down to lower 40’s) and there is no heat in my hut but then in the day it can get up to higher 70’s in the afternoon. The sunsets at about 5:30 because its “winter” here.
-Cattle runs wild here, no limits to where they can go. We have had to stop on the highway to let a heard go by.
– I add bleach to my water after purifying it to kill viruses that made it through the filter system. It just seems really weird to actually deliberately be putting it in my water.
– If a swazi man wants to marry he pays cattle to the womens family. My language teacher paid 13 cows for his wife.
– 50% of pregnant women here are HIV+
– 70% of the population is dependent on subsistent farming. I have helped my family shuck dried corn to make porridge which is a very common meal here.
– Most all familys burn their trash
– Swazi women carry their young children on their backs with tied blankets.
-The gender inequality is VERY apparent. Women are not treated as equals to men at all
– Dogs here are beaten and only feed off the scraps of food left after meals
-Trash is everywhere as “trash cans” are nonexistent.
– I have electricity (1 overhead light and 1 plug in my room) no heat, no insulation thought
– I get to go to the kings cup in Swaziland this Saturday! (look it up)
– There are many similarities to Australia in the types of shops/ food Swaziland has!
– Swazi’s who I don’t know always yell Ulumu! (white person) whenever they see me, and everyone wants to know where I come from.
– Mothers name: Khulisiwe, Oldest brother: Thando, Sisi: Betsabile, Youngest bhuti: Nhlanhla
– LOVING “The soil” album. Our bus driver plays it for us when we ask!
*THESE ITEMS ARE NOT NEED, but if your looking to send a care package here are some items of want: anything decorative to put on my walls (photos, maps, designs), disinfecting Wetwipes, granola bars, small quick dry dish towel, nonstick pan (never knew we were so lucky to have these) Socks, GUM. J Ngiyabonga ( I thank you )
Most importantly I want you all to know I am so incredibly happy here. I know this is where I am supposed to be right now. I smile, laugh, and think of you all everyday. My life is very different here but I feel I am able to adjust to this new lifestyle. It may not always be comfortable or fun but I am really living some of the Swazi lifestyle. I often find myself looking at Swazi people and not believing my eyes with how nice they look and wonder if they really bucket bathe too?! And they do! Swazi’s know how to work it for sure!
I’ll end with a popular phrase in SiSwati here in Swaziland-
“Umuntfu ngumuntfu ngebantfu”
(I am because I belong)
To add more to just one post:
As site announcements are getting closer and closer, I keep telling myself to not have expectations. Not to keep dreaming about getting a dog and having more space and time to build my life here in Swaziland. I’m not the only one telling myself not to have expectations, the Peace Corps admin is always reminding us that we could be stuck without power and water that is a hike to get to for the entirety of two years. This is what we signed up for, but its just been very hard for me not to have certain expectations for the village I will be completing my Peace Corps service in. It again becomes hard to picture what my life will be like in a month an a half from now. Coming to Swaziland I had no expectations, but now in country I expect the other community to be like the one I’m living in now and the family I live with to be the same, welcoming people. It’s just like going into the unknown again, which is exciting and nerve racking. Enough talking about what is about to come, and on to what is happening right now!
I am currently overwhelmed with how many things I want to accomplish in a day and how many things I can realistically get done. The convenience factor here in Swaziland is gone completely compared to American lifestyle and everything takes longer to accomplish on a daily basis. Fetching water (10 min), Filtering water (takes 4 hours), cooking dinner (45 min), washing dishes (30 min), washing clothes (1 hour), cleaning/ moping my hut (1 hour), bucket bathing (45 min process of preparing and actual action), studying (unlimited) , spending time with my host family (unlimited) , and “me time” (usually 30min) are all things I need to choose from when I get home from training each day. I get home about 4:30pm, so this gives me about 1.5 hours of sunlight left to do outdoor things like fetch water or wash clothes and then I usually try to get to bed by 9:30. So, over all I have about 5 hours each night to get things done. This may seem like a lot, but it is probably the toughest challenge I have had to face here. Time management is really hard when the pressures of all those things to do are on your plate. As all of the activities are very physical and washing clothes and dishes are done by hand and not by a machine. I usually try to accomplish two tasks per day so I can feel somewhat accomplished.
I always need to find time in my day just to laugh and pretend I don’t have to give myself a bath in a bucket that coming night . (Its really not horrible, but 100000000X would prefer a shower). I have found some great friends here to blow off steam and just relax and laugh with. This weekend we went on a cultural field trip where we got to go to many different places in Swaziland. It was great to see more of the country and see a more “modern” or developing Swaziland.
To end on a positive note, the stars are always amazing to look at during the night and it makes me happy and makes me think of all the people I love at home.