Friday, September 23, 2011


I saw my first snake today! I was perfectly content pretending they didnt exist here and naive to think that if they did my lovable, adorable cat would put on a cape and become a ferocious reptile killing super hero. Well, no such luck! My cat kept grooming itself, unnoticing as the snake slithered on by within a few yards. Even the chickens paid no attention. I thought they would at least make a fuss. I guess I must fend for myself when it comes to those deadly Mambas! ahhh! HAPPY BIRTHDAY SOMMER! <3

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Protests in Manzini

Lots of drama is happening in Swaziland as the people here seem to be continuing the trend of protesting un-democratic governments. Do not worry about me though. I live in a rural area, far enough away from the cities that nothing is likely to happen here. I have little access to credible news. I am sure that with the power of the internet and some help from search engines you can quickly have more info about the current situation than me. Search SwaziTimes to read my local news.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Happy Birthday Grandma!

Yesterday was my Grandma's birthday. I think of her alot here. Gogos are the center of the family unit and have alot of power in decision making on the homestead. For instance, if a man wants a wife he must ask her gogo and she will decide how many cows he owes. I get alot of attention for being white, about 2 proposals a day. I tell my suitors they must go to America to ask my gogo's permission. So if you see my grandma tell her not to marry me off and wish her a happy belated birthday!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Kids having kids

Yesterday at the clinic I met a Make. She was 22 years old, only one year younger than me. She came in with her newborn for an immunization. This Make has 3 other kids at home! Her oldest is 8. She was still a kid herself when her first was born. When I was 14, my biggest worry was not spraining an ankle at soccer practice. And now the thought of having one kid, let alone 4 is too hard to imagine! Unfortunately kind of thing isn't so abnormal. Lots of teen mothers here. Sad.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Worked at the clinic today.

I spent today at the clinic. When I arrived the waiting room was full of mothers and infants. They come on Mondays for growth monitoring, immunizations, and family planning. They saw over 30 babies in 3hrs. On Tuesdays they have a doctor come for volunteer HIV testing and counseling, as well as ARV (HIV meds) distribution. Yesterday I went to a support group mtg and an hoping to go to different one tomorrow. Schools open tomorrow, so I am planning on visiting those next week. Keeping busy.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Everyday I am getting to know my community better. This week I will be visiting HIV support groups, shadowing the nurses at the clinic, chilling with the sewing group, feeding/playing with some orphans, making a hat out of palm leaves, helping to teach English. Nothing is scheduled for TH\F yet. If Im bored Im reading Edgar Sawtelle, good book! I sewed a curtain, crocheted dish towels. My new project is knitting stuffed animals. Im working on my 1st one, a bunny. I hope to make a few before Christmas!

9/11/01 Always Remember.

Ten years ago, we witnessed a horrible tragedy. We saw the worst of human nature as terrorists destroyed lives, but also the best of human nature in the actions of the heroes that day. I am grateful to the service(wo)men who have fought to protect our freedom, the freedom that allows me to say that I dont believe killing more people in all our wars is the answer to creating peace, but thats why I joined the PC. I want to serve my country in way that promotes friendship and not death. Life is too precious.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Good luck as you start your school year!

As the school year begins in America, Swaziland schools are scheduled to re-open for their last term (#3) next week. Education is not free here. The kids must pay school fees to attend. The govt has started a program to make primary education free, but is now having trouble finding the money for the program and also to say the teachers. Lately there have been protests about this lack of money which will delay the start of school. I feel bad for the kids. They are the ones being hurt by these money woes!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Church with Make(Mom) and Reed Dance

Today I woke up at dawn so I could travel 2.5 hours to the capital city.  I was notified that I had a package there from home, Thanks Patty and Sommer!   I also wanted to take a shower, and let me say how awesome that was!  It has been almost a month since my last real shower!!  And I also wanted to type a blog that was longer than the 500 characters allowed by my phone.

My Make (mom) came by my room at 5am this morning.  She wanted to tell me that she was going into the city to buy a part for the maize mill on our homestead and she wouldn't be home tonight.  My Make is a great woman.  She is in her late 40s, never married.  She runs our huge homestead all by herself, as my Gogo is too old to do much of anything.  I have learned more about small business skills from my Make in the short time I have lived here that I ever did in 4 years at business school.  My Make is very ambitious, always moving, and busy with something or other.  I rarely see her sit down to rest, and when I do she is already getting up again to check the pigs or fetch firewood or mop the front stoop even though it will be dusty again in no time.  Neighbors from all over come to buy biscuits, cheeto things, flavored ice, meat from the cow they killed a couple weeks ago,or fruit from the trees in her orchard.  We also have a maize mill on our homestead to grind the corn into corn meal that they use to make the porridge the eat with all their meals.  The band on the machine is broken right now, but it should be fixed soon.

On Sundays, I have been going to church with my Make.  Definitely a cultural experience!  There is no bulletin with the days readings, no organ, no choir, no hymnal, and not even a cross at the front.  The only thing that makes it resemble a church are the rows of chairs and benches and a table at the front that is used as an alter table.  They sing songs all from memory. It is so cool to be in the middle of all of them as they sing.  Mostly its all in siSwati, so I don't know what they are singing.  It gives me the opportunity to just listen.  Their songs are so beautiful, and the spirit immediately penetrates right to my heart.  If you single one voice out, you hear their pain, but together the congregation's singing sounds like resilience and hope.  Life is hard in the people in this country.  It amazes me that through all their struggles and all their losses they come to church and confess how thankful they are for the things and people they do have in their lives.

On Monday, I went to the Reed Dance.  It is  the biggest cultural event in the country.  Girls from all over come to pay homage to the Queen Mother and the celebrate their virginity.  The girls wear their traditional regalia, topless.  We, Americans have been told that Swazis aren't afraid of  I watched the 80,000 girls dance past us, and then I had to leave early since I wasn't planning on staying the night away from home.  Transport home was a bit tricky since I missed my last bus, but I was with a woman who had missed the same bus.  She made sure I got home ok.

The rest of the week was pretty quiet.  I take walks to the river and read a book.  In the afternoons a couple of the neighbor girls come to visit.  Their English isn't so good.  I taught the older ones how to do framework puzzles and word searches and the younger ones draw pictures or I quiz them on addition problems.  Hopefully before I leave they will be able to do addition without counting on their fingers.
My Training Family from my first 2 months.