Life thru Pictures: Part 6

Umhlanga (translates to reeds): Is a tradition in Swaziland that celebrates/showcases young maidens (unmarried/childless girls and women) every year around August. 

*Pictures taken by PCV Kirby.*

1st picture: King Mswati III.

2nd picture: Reed dance.

3rd photo: PCV Alison participated in Umhlanga this year with the girls in her community. Please read her blog here to hear all about it!

Rainbow 🌈 Dash. 5k event with PCVs Kirby and Akirah. πŸƒπŸΎβ€β™€οΈ

In observance of International Day of the Girl, PCV Dawnita put together a day long Swazi GirlsBelieve conference for girls in grade 5-7 in her community. The day included a mind/body/soul & spirit activity, a panel with powerful and successful Swazi women (panel included a singer/songwriter, psychologist, and former teacher/financial professional), a photo booth, entertainment, food, HIV testing, a reusable pad making workshop, and lots of laughs and fun! Attending the event was inspiring, empowering, and motivational. #whoruntheworld πŸ‘―

3rd picture: Dawnita with Peace Corps Country Director, Glenda Green and U.S. Ambassador to Swaziland, Lisa Peterson.

πŸ“šπŸ“šπŸ“š Thank you Books for Africa and to everyone that donated towards the project. 1,000 Books were distributed to 30 schools in Swaziland! We are extremely grateful for your sacrifice and contributions. πŸ’œ

*The high school in my community was chosen to receive books through BFA and we are so ecstatic! I will keep you all updated on the status of our library. *

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Full.

August was a fun-filled month of vacationing. 😍

First – my beautiful friend Theresa came to visit me. It was such a special time.

Theresa flew into South Africa and I met with her there. We spent a few days in Johannesburg, our friend Felicia and her family hosted us.

Johannesburg is such a cool place with so much to explore – we went to the Apartheid Museum, Mandela House, church, hung out with disciples, and I ate like a pig! Johannesburg reminds of home in a sense that it has the same fast food corporations – McDonald’s, Burger King, Cinnabon, Popeyes, Pizza Hut, Starbucks, etc! 

Theresa rented a car. After service on Sunday we drove to Swaziland. Theresa spent a little over a week with me in my community. My host family even gifted her with the name “Amahle” which means beautiful in Siswati. I made sure we had things to do – she was visiting during the last week of Term 2 but was fortunate enough to meet the students at the high school. I planned two reusable pad making workshops with the GLOW girls and HIV Support Group.

We also acted like tourists in Swaziland. I took her to some of my favorite places (Vickerys, the gables, Manzini, Mbabane, the cultural village), she met a few volunteers, and she also got to meet the disciples in Swaziland!

It was so difficult to see Theresa leave but I’m forever indebted for her stay and the memories we built. πŸ’œ

Month end, I traveled to Namibia to visit my friend Ingelore. Our friendship blossomed in 2007 during our college days at PLU. The last time I saw Ingelore was May 2015 in D.C. I always told her I’d visit her in her homeland and I’m so blessed I got to do so.

The days were filled – we traveled to the city Swakopmund. There, we went to sandy beaches that overlooked the Atlantic Ocean, we rode ATV’s, hiked Dune 7. We also went to Etosha National Park (the only wildlife I wanted to see was elephants and tigers and I saw all that plus more).

I also spent a considerable amount of time with disciples, did some site seeing, ate traditional food, met new friends, went to the art and history museum, China town, and also ate great food there. I could tell my clothes were a bit snug after my month long vacation (I stepped on the scale when I got home and saw I gained 5 lbs πŸ€·πŸΎβ€β™€οΈ). 

That 5 pounds was worth it. I feel “heavy” in all the right places (I feel more relaxed, joyful, and content). 

Wishlist

+ Corn tortillas

+ Flashdrives 

+ Tims JalapeΓ±o chips

+ Pepperoni’s (for pizza)

+ Korean Pork Jerky (Costco)

+ Sriracha

+ Coconut oil packets (Trader Joe’s)

+ Essential oils: Lemongrass and Peppermint

+ Protein bars (I like coconut, chocolate, peanut butter, cranberries, nuts)

+ Big bag of candy – Costco (incentives for my students)

+ Speck (phone case)

+ Deodorant (unscented – secret)

+ Starbursts + peach rings + sour patch kids watermelon 

+ Socks (ankle ones)

+  Head wrap or head tie from: http://www.constantcovering.com/store/c1/Featured_Products.html

Address:

Nicole Hughes, PCV

PO Box 2797

Mbabane H100

Swaziland

AFRICA

We gon be alright. βœŠπŸΎ

Journal entry from September 12, 2016:
I collapsed in my bed mediating on Kendricks Lamar’s single “we gon be alright” to comfort me as I processed the days events.

Earlier today I ventured off into my shopping town to check out the local library. Maybe there I could find some decent wifi and upload new pictures on my blog. 

After a hour of attempting to update my blog but having no luck, I decided it was time to leave.

I crossed towards the room and headed to the door with my backpack in hand, when one of the guys behind the counter muttered some words in sisswati I couldn’t quite make out.

A little apprehensive I told him to please repeat what he said in English. 

With disdain in his voice he asked me are you too good for the local language? Do you want to be white?

Laughter erupted from the others behind the desk.

No not at all Babe I’m an American volunteer and I just moved–Interrupted, he said, please give me your bag umlungu (white person).

My heart beat increased. Pressure mounted as I handed him my bag.

There’s no way you’re an American. Next time speak sisswati this is Swaziland!

Cringing and fighting back tears I grabbed my backpack and left the building. 

The damage was done. 

I was rejected because I did not fit his image of an American. I was ridiculed because I was at a low level in my sisswati. 

I left a teachable moment alone because I was too numb to speak. 
*

*

*
There are times in Swaziland I’ve been treated as a second class citizen or felt “unqualified” because I’m not a White American. Some Swazi’s don’t understand the concept that Black people are in America. They associate wealth, foreign aid, and America to only “white.” To be honest it can be mentally draining to explain my blackness and what diversity looks like in America.

My community is hosting a volunteer for the first time. I’m grateful, from day one I was embraced. People vocalize their curiosity when they meet me for the first time, hear my accent, and wonder where I come from. The color of my skin allows me to blend in and I truly love it! 

The sad truth is some people don’t get it and will continue with their microaggressions, subtle racism, and ignorance but I’ve come to realize some people’s perceptions/behaviors wont change. I can’t focus on the things I can’t control. I’ll continue to redirect my energy to things positive and build myself up. 

Life Thru Pictures: Part 5

Our first GLOW (girls empowerment club) meeting at the high school! πŸ‘ΈπŸΎ #youGLOWgirl #sistasista


Celebrating my nieces’ 1st birthday! (Training host family)First of many reusable pad making workshops with the bomake (women) in the community.

School trip 🚌 Destinations: National Museum of Archives, Manzini Cathedral, Gables, Maguga Dam, Ngwenya Mines, Weather Station, Royal Swaziland Sugar Corporation, Airport, and Riverstone Mall. Celebrating the 4th of July with G12, G13, G14, and G15, at the Country Directors house.

365 days later! πŸŽ‰

What service has taught me in the 1st year…

  • Not every bad day is a profound lesson in gratitude. Acknowledge what you are feeling, experience it, and know it will pass.
  • I no longer view hand washing my clothes as a ‘chore’ I deeply despise, it’s actually relaxing. 
  • I started a permagarden and learned I can grow my own food! Unfortunately cows destroyed and ate my garden. Rest In Peace broccoli, spinach, butternut, and tomatoes. 😭
  • Impromptu dance parties with my host family are the best. My host mom periodically joins in. And at 80 something she can get down. Ayyyye. πŸ’ƒπŸΎ
  • “I’m coming sisi” can mean anything from ‘I’m still in the bed’ to coming past sun down to sometimes not showing up at all. πŸ™„
  • Some days my greatest accomplishments are chasing after pigs and chickens!
  • The crazy days, frustration, and tears are a distant memory. I have a feeling year 2 is going to be amazing!
  • Don’t focus on what you can’t control.
  • Always carry soap, toilet paper, and hand sanitizer with you. These things aren’t always available.
  • Don’t look at the speedometer when you’re in the front seat of a kombi. Swaziland takes speeding to a new level.
  • Being black in Swaziland has its advantages and disadvantages (I will post a more thorough blog on this subject soon).
  • Getting out of the village from time to time is a must! My favorite spots in Swaziland are: the Gables, Malandela’s, Manzini, window shopping at clicks, Sundowners, and Pizza Vesuvio.
  • The views in Swaziland are breathtaking. πŸ—»
  • Roosters, chickens, dogs, cows, birds, and goats will be your personal alarm clock.
  • Laugh at yourself sometimes!
  • Learning the local language is essential. Greetings go a long way here.
  • I love the fresh fruit trees! Mango season is my favorite.
  • There is no such thing as waste. If you don’t eat it someone will (especially animals).
  • Be open to trying new things.
  • Soak in what’s happening around you. Live in the moment.