Friday, June 7, 2013
Saturday, May 18, 2013
|Kelly R, co-director of GLOW and I at Mabuda Farms|
|Clerisse Lemke, GLOW Director with one of her campers|
|Some of the artwork created by campers on Art Day.|
|Sizakele participating in the leadership activity while Bandzile looks on.|
|My girls and I - From the left: Counselor: Fisiwe Dlamin, Campers: Siphiwe Shongwe, Bandzile Ngenethwa, me, and Sizakele Dlamini|
Friday, May 17, 2013
|Siphiwe Shongwe after dinner on night 3|
|Sizakele Dlamini at Mabuda Farms Day Trip|
|Bandzile reading the poem she composed on Art Day|
|Fisiwe in a session during Careers Day|
Sunday, April 28, 2013
for one of the HIV Support groups in my community. This project
started many months ago when my community counterpart and I started
the grant writing process. I know now that I really dislike writing
grants because of the wordiness and formulating proper goals,
objectives, and monitoring and evaluation techniques… ugh, it hurts my
head just remembering.
Since then, when the grant was accepted, I sought the help of the
nurses at my local clinic to facilitate the sessions during the
workshop. They were the perfect people to help me since they know the
question people are wanting answered, the myths that need dispelling,
and most importantly, they can speak siSwati.
The Workshop took place on Friday, so my week was full of buying food,
coordinating final details for the event, and overcoming any of the
setbacks that presented themselves. When Friday came, the big day, I
was up early in order to prepare everything. Of course, nothing ever
happens without its complications. I was so happy to see the women,
who had arrived early to cook our lunch, were already busy cooking
when I arrived and the nurses showed up right on time. The problem
was that the Support Group we had been preparing to present to were
nowhere to be found!! Even my counterpart hadn't arrived on time! I
was so embarrassed and stressed because my guest speakers who took
time out of their regular jobs were just sitting there, what a waste
of their time. This stress I was feeling is an American character
trait that I have not seemed to lose in my two years of being here…
timeliness and respect for other's time.
Two hours late, the participants arrived, and we finally began. The
nurses spoke about HIV transmission, tuberculosis co-infection, the
importance of taking ARVs properly, diabetes, hypertension, and
nutrition. The workshop was done completely in siSwati therefore I am
not exactly sure what was being said but the participants were really
involved and asking a lot of questions. I suggested that the nurses
each talk for 30 minutes, but Swazis know how to talk and each nurse
spoke for at least 45 minutes or more (which really surprised me
because of our late start). At the end of the day, the participants
were really happy and glad to have heard new information. I think
they were really pleased to hear new topics about diseases that aren't
just HIV because although HIV is a huge killer here in Swaziland,
people are tired of hearing about it time and time again.
Thankful that the workshop is over and generally successful, I am now
looking forward to a week full of GLOW! My next blog post will be
about Camp GLOW which is finally here! I leave my community tomorrow
with one of the counselors we trained in January and 3 girls. The
camp is a week long and I look forward to letting you all know how it
went at the end of the week. Once again, thanks to everyone who
supported GLOW and helped make it possible! GLOW is sure to be a
highlight of my Peace Corps Service.
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
|From the left- Siboniso (1st Place), Mrs. Msibi (English Teacher), Mfundo (2nd Place), Me|
The awards ceremony was an exciting event for all included. I traveled with my two students to Manzini where we met with their English teacher. The boys were excited because not only were they allowed to miss a day of school, they were also about to visit the capitol city for their first time, visit the new mall complete with escalators, meet the US Ambassador, and have a nice lunch. It was also a day of firsts for me too, as it was the first time I was able to visit the US Embassy in Swaziland.
|All the winners, PCVs, US Ambassador (in the back with an orange shirt), PC Director (far left)|
This was a fantastic accomplishment for this school. They have come so far considering that last year they were learning under a tree, sitting in the grass with a broken chalkboard leaning against the tree, and fig fruits falling on their heads during lessons. The students and teachers alike were proud of the two winners for overcoming obstacles and having put their new school on the map!
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
and now so many things have happened I don't know what I have written
about and what I haven't so forgive me if this blog seems like a hodge
Let's talk about GLOW first. GLOW is a continuous project. Now that
TOT (Training of Trainers) has finished and was a great success we are
now moving our focus to planning for the big Camp that is in April and
at the same time also starting GLOW Clubs in our local communities. I
have been particularly busy with GLOW since I am also one of the
people responsible for writing and editing the manuals which are huge
documents that we have basically constructed from scratch. The manual
tells people the mission and objectives of GLOW, the GLOW committee
responsibilities and the TOT/ Camp planning processes, about what
happens at Camp, how to apply for camp, how to start a Club in
communities, and so on. It is basically a compilation of all the work
our committee has done over the last year and it will be what is left
here when we all return to the States. I am working on forming a Club
in my community too. The first meeting is on Friday, so I am crossing
my fingers that girls will actually show up and be interested.
Changing topics… One of my favorite things about being in Swaziland is
that it makes celebrating American events/holidays so much better and
more meaningful. 4th of July, elections, Thanksgiving, and Suberbowl
have come to be a highlight of my Swazi-American life. Superbowl was
great fun last year, and even more fun this year. We played touch
football, hung out by the pool, ate great food, and waited for the 2am
kickoff time. But right before kick-off time we had a huge
thunderstorm which cut our power for the first quarter, so we
improvised. We sat by candlelight getting updates on the game via
text messages from the States. The power came back in the second
quarter, only for New Orleans' power to go out in the third quarter, a
coincidence I thought was just too funny and ironic not to mention.
After the delay of game, it finally ended at 6am. I had a day full of
meetings planned at the office that morning and only about 10 minutes
of sleep. Totally worth it though.
Now let's skip to last weekend. I helped a fellow Volunteer with her
big project. She works primarily in the pre-schools, so she had a
4-day workshop for six of her local pre-school teachers. I helped on
two of the days. The workshop covered topics such as why pre-school
teaching was important, child development (ages and stages), lesson
planning, and behavior management. It was a great workshop. The
teachers seemed to learn a lot. My role in the workshop was just
supplementary, to help make sure everything was running smoothly:
checking with the cook to make sure lunch was set, making tea, sitting
in on sessions, helping with suggestions, questions, and
mistranslations. It was great to see all the hard work my fellow PCVs
are doing in their communities and the cumulative impact all of us
PCVs are having throughout the country.
As soon as I finished pre-school training, my next commitment was for
one of my Peace Corps duties. Last year I was selected to be a leader
for the Emergency Action Plan. Basically if there is a security risk
in the country, I am the contact person in my area of the country to
communicate messages from the office and be the point person if a
quick evacuation was deemed necessary. So we, the Wardens, come
together with our security director to talk about the Action Plan,
possible scenarios, and our roles and responsibilities throughout the
whole procedure. We also talk about what might go wrong and what to
do if that happens.
Next on the line, it's time to go back to my community. I am working
with an Adult Ed Literacy class. A while ago they pointed out that
one of the reasons they want to learn English is so that they can use
an ATM without asking for help from the attendant. So I while I was
in town I stopped in at the bank for a couple hours to ask every
question I could about banking in this country. I decided that if my
women want to learn to use an ATM then they also need to learn how to
fill out the form to open a bank account. Filling out forms is a
skill needed in many other areas of life and the forms are all written
in English, so I thought it was an important and practical issue to
talk about in class. Next, I will teach about ATMs and then how to
use their cell phones to send text messages since both of these pieces
of technology are also only in English. My form-filling lesson seemed
to go over pretty well, but the English was too advanced on those
forms for them to actually be able to fill it on their own.
Continuing... I am writing this blog write now because I am
procrastinating writing a grant proposal. I am writing a grant to
fund a workshop for the HIV support group in my community. I want the
HIV+ people in my community to better understand their disease,
understand the importance of taking their medicine, and how to help
take care of each other. I think that this workshop will be really
helpful to the people in my community. I am seeking advice from the
local clinic to help lead sessions, local HIV and development
organizations, and support group members themselves to talk about HIV.
What I have learned through this whole process (and through the
process of the last grant I wrote) is that I really dislike writing
grants. I am better at/enjoy more hands on work and not making
(bullshitting) the words to justify my communities need for an HIV
workshop, especially in the country with the highest HIV rate in the
world. I know you want to tell me that I am a simply fantastic
writer and you can't peel your eyes away from my blog, but writing is
really hard for me and it takes a long time to produce. It can take
me a whole day to write a simple two page blog. (Good thing I am a
PCV with a ton of time to kill!)
Speaking of killing, another fellow PCV killed her first chicken last
week. I have yet to be honored with the privilege of that experience.
Her friend came to visit from America and they killed a chicken
together to celebrate. (I am only telling you that because I am
jealous of her chicken killing experience.) The next day, their
chicken was completely digested and I then accompanied them and a few
other Volunteers to Hlane Game Reserve. It is the largest game
reserve in Swaziland and it is home to the only lions in Swaziland.
It was Valentine's Day and since I have no boyfriend here, we spent
the day on a game drive with the King of the Jungle and some
elephants, rhinos, hippos, and giraffes! It was a great day!
It is good to be busy and I am also finding time to enjoy myself as
well. While I am working on all of my new and on-going projects, I am
also working on figuring out what I will be doing next year when this
Peace Corps commitment is finished. I have decided that I want to
stay a third year in Swaziland with the Peace Corps. A third year
will be a lot different than the work I am currently doing. I want to
work with some handicraft organizations in Swaziland to help with
small business development, expanding their markets, and maybe even
some product development. With the help of my Peace Corps boss we
have identified some organizations that I could work with, so now I
need to get into contact with the organizations and iron out the
details. This is an exciting opportunity for me since it will be
practical work experience. I was a business major in college, after
all, and not really into health unless it had to do with sports. I
joined Peace Corps to get real world working experience and although I
feel like I have done a lot here, I don't think I have done what I
came here to do yet. I feel it would be a shame to have come this
close and not finished the whole experience and fulfilled all of my
expectations. Although I miss my American life I really think a third
year here is what is right for me right now.
Well, I am sure I am forgetting to tell you tons of awesome stories in
this mess of a blog. Maybe next time I will try not to wait so long
to fill you in. Here's to wishful thinking!
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Simply put, very successful TOT. I feel very inspired and empowered myself. Now we are already busy preparing for Camp GLOW which takes place April 29-May 4.
Monday, January 14, 2013
I am not saying that I have considered cutting off my arm as an excuse to get out of another long service. (If I disliked it that much I am sure I could stay home and watch movies instead, but I have nightmares now so no way I would watch any of the SAW movies.)
So here is what happened at church yesterday. After some singing and praying it's the pastor's turn to give his sermon. He usually throws a little English in or refers to Bible verses so I can follow along a little, but most of the time I am pretty zoned out at church. But yesterday I was riveted. The topic of the sermon, he said in English was how the word 'simple' and the word 'easy' do not have the same meaning. What an interesting topic and I would love to hear what he is saying, but once he switches to siSwati I am left to figure it out for myself.
I really had no idea there is a difference between simple and easy, so then I began trying to think of examples to explain the difference and of course the first thing I think of are the Saw movies. I haven't even seen a Saw movie since I went to see Saw 5 on Halloween about 5 years ago. But my philosophical brain decides that Saw is a perfect example of the difference between 'simple' and 'easy.'
How? You ask. I decided that a person in a Saw situation must make the decison to cut off their own arm in order to save their life. So they have a choice: to cut their arm off and save their life or don't and die. Assuming the person wants to live, the right choice is 'simple.' They must cut off their arm. However doing that action is not so 'easy.' Problem solved!
Somehow I don't think the pastor was talking about the Saw movies, but he was shouting and pacing across the stage flailing his arms as he made his points just as he might is he was arguing with Saw co-stars to decide whether they would be alive or dead by the end of the movie.
The sermon was very exciting as I was putting words into the pastor's mouth, at least it was exciting until I figured out that the sermon was not actually about Saw at all (how disappointing!), but instead about Moses and the Exodus. Whoops!
Anyways, I've got a busy week this week. The time has finally come for some girls empowerment! Our first GLOW event is this week where we will be training the future leaders of GLOW Swaziland. The women we bring from around the country this week will serve as counselors at the big GLOW Camp that will take place in April. So stay tuned to hear how the training goes! Thanks to everyone for supporting GLOW and women's empowerment in Swaziland!
Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone powered by MTN Swaziland
Wednesday, January 9, 2013