Week in Review

Stuck in the ghetto: Ryan and I have made several trips to our old carepoint Mangwaneni (a carepoint is a feeding center for OVCs [orphans and vulnerable children]). Ryan made me drive to the carepoint so I could get used to the opposite side driving in Swazi. It was a little scary at first, but not too bad. It definitely keeps me focused… that’s for sure. Since he was reminding me to stay on the left and I was quite zeroed in on the road, neither of us noticed the low gas gauge. So after hanging out with the kids in the evening, we climbed back into the van when it got dark and started the car…only to find out there was not even a bit of juice left in it. “Awesome, stranded in the ghetto of Manzini at night,” Ryan retorts. There are still kids outside our van, climbing on it and banging on windows, asking us to unlock it. Ryan calls for back up, and another volunteer says he will bring us some petrol in a little while. In other circumstances, I might have been a little scared to be there that late, but honestly, no one’s going to mess with Ryan…so we were alright. The Mangwaneni kids are the most creative people I know; for example, while we were waiting in the van, the boys were THRILLED with our head lights. Ryan would switch them on and off and they boys started jumping around singing, “Yebo! Yebo! Yebo!” They could’ve entertained themselves like that for hours. Luckily, we weren’t sitting there for hours. More about Mangwaneni While we are on the topic of Mangwaneni (aka: the ghetto), I didn’t realize how horrible of a place it was until now. I knew it was a little dangerous, but I didn’t really think it was that bad of a place. But one of my Swazi friends, Cynthia, said she would rather go to the most rural parts of Swazi than go to Mangwaneni. It’s a squatter camp, meaning it’s a community full of huts and cement blocks for houses, where families are crammed into one room shelters with usually no furniture or no beds, whatsoever. So here I was complaining about a broken mattress and sore back this week, when I need to be grateful I even have one, and more grateful I don’t have to share it with others. I was talking to Temu (13 year old girl who lives there) and she was saying that she hates living there. She said there are too many thieves and lots of alcohol. She was telling me more about Tanele’s step-mom and how she was drunk nearly every day. Temu said her mom would say let’s go over to Tanele’s mom’s and visit, and Temu would refuse to go because she was afraid of her. Also, I found out that the older men at the squatter camp would have sex with the girls, and that’s what started the “tree line” (which we learned about the first summer when I came on the mission trip with AIM). Basically, the tree line was near Mangwaneni where young girls would go to prostitute themselves for money. But it wasn’t just the girls. The children started having sex with one another “just for fun”, and that’s when GuGu stepped in and started a free school for them so they would stop. (GuGu is a whole different, wonderful story. She is the one who inspired me to come back and to want to build another free school.) Photo book big hit I made a photobook before I left that had some of my pictures from Swaziland as well as my poems. I brought it to show some of the kids who are in the book, like Mlandvo, Temu, Pununu, the twins, etc…. When I pulled it out to show Temu, kids were grabbing and grabbing at it, wanting to see it for themselves. They absolutely LOVED it! They loved seeing the people they know, people like them, in an actual book! Although the young ones couldn’t read a word of the poems, they looked at page after page again and again. It was the coolest thing. I wish I would have made more and given them to the kids.
Enjabulweni I am teaching Grade 6 at Enjabulweni. It is going well, but it is really overwhelming because they have no curriculum or standards per grade level. There is so much the students do not know, so I am having a tough time trying to limit what I want to teach them because I can’t teach them everything. I have 29 students (ages 14-18) in that small room with just a chalkboard and chalk to teach them. They have a workbook but it is terrible, so most things I teach are on my own and they do not even have any worksheets or anything to give them. And if I want to make them worksheets, I have to pay for it on my own, so it adds up really fast. So the resources are definitely limited. My favorite part so far about teaching is having them do writing prompts. It helps me figure out where they are with their English skills and also teaches me more about them. Yesterday, the writing prompt was about what they would do with four gold coins. My favorite answer was from Vukane, who said he would buy clothes for him and his sister and save at least one of the gold coins for his mother so they could get food. It is so humbling teaching these kids. Aside from teaching, we (all the volunteers) help with tutoring every Monday and Wednesday night. MYC has four boys homes, so that’s where we go to help the boys with their schoolwork. I am also picking up another hour and half on Tuesday afternoons. For the most part, my afternoons are “free,” but also includes my planning for teaching. But soon my afternoons will be very occupied…but more on that later. Street Night Another volunteer, Alex, and I went with Peter (social worker for MYC) on “street night” where he goes around and looks for boys sleeping on the streets and hopefully ends up placing them in one of their homes. It’s one thing to hear about it, but to actually see it is quite a different experience. We saw a group of women in the marketplace who came from rural areas of Swazi to sell things in the market. Peter told us that the women would sleep there and stay in Manzini until everything is sold. I couldn’t believe they just slept in the streets like that. We also came across a few boys and Peter tried to get them connected with MYC. Also, we found two boys who were previously at MYC homes and had ran away…They eventually made their way to back to staying in the homes. I started asking Peter about prostitutes and the different ages and if they had ever looked for girls in the streets or just boys. He said at one point they had looked for girls as well but there are more boys living in the streets than girls; he also said it was much harder to help girls who are living in the streets because then they have to deal with pregnancies or prostitution or other things. Alex and I looked at each other like, “what?!” She said, “doesn’t that mean it’s even MORE important to try to find them and help them?” Peter agreed, but we all know there’s nothing going to be done about it.
One thing is for sure… MYC needs a girls home…not just boys homes. Hopefully, I can kick up enough dirt to get that going…

Bats, Cockroaches, and Mouse Poop, OH MY! Where are my brothers when I need them?! My living conditions are nothing to complain about, but I just want to tell you my lovely encounter with bats, cockroaches, and poop… So we have bats living in our ceiling. We can hear them and it’s kindof creepy. So far I haven’t actually SEEN one, which is wonderful! What I HAVE seen is just as gross… I was out in the “livingroom” with some other volunteers when we heard some screams. They laughed and said, “probably cockroaches.” Haha…I laughed, too…until I found out the screaming was coming from my room. After the cockroaches were properly taken care of, it still took me a while to go to sleep, but I managed. However, the other night, I woke up to find mouse poop right by my pillow! Ewwwww! I was so freaked out that I slept with another volunteer in her room for the next two nights. My roommate kindly shook out the mattress and checked the box mattress for me. No mice…but more dead cockroaches!!! YUCK! They were living in my mattress! Okay, enough about the bugs…other living conditions… My housemates are wonderful. I really love them. I love living in such a multicultural house! And I’m learning to cook better. I am sorry to say but I definitely added to the American stereotype of being fat and lazy and not knowing how to cook. Lol. I get along really well with one volunteer named Eilidh; we found out today we are basically soulmates because we are the same person, except she’s Scottish. 😉
Mantenga FallsAs a part of Ryan’s last few adventures in Swaziland, we took some kids from Mangwaneni to Mantenga Falls (a BEAUTIFUL waterfall and swimming area). Spihlile, Iyanda, Temu, and Susan joined us for the festivities with two other Salesian volunteers. We had a blast. I kindof felt like a parent because we brought food for a picnic and the four of us adults sat on our towels and ate while the kids ran around, splashed in the water, and played hide and seek. They were too thrilled to even it. I quite liked it. I think I’ll enjoy motherhood…someday. 🙂

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