May 20, 2009- Homecoming: Due to my supposed tendonitis, I was required to stay in Mbabane, from April 30 thru today, 20 days. It was, at times maddening. Luckily, many volunteers were in and out of the backpacker lodge where I was ‘residing,’ and the owner of the backpacker lodge is a really inviting, friendly guy. I never wanted for company. Even so, I itched to get back home. Yes, my home. I am able to call it that now. I was ready for my own space, my own bed—even though I can feel the springs—and to see my family, community and friends. With great relief I boarded the bus in Nhlangano that goes passed my site. I recognized many faces and those faces recognized me. Smiles and hellos from bomake and bobabe, shy glances from children. All endearing to my heart. I felt so overwhelmed by a sense of familiarity and homecoming; I began to cry but quickly recovered. How would I explain my swell of emotion, a longing for my community, or a wish to see recognizable faces in my home-away-from-home when I could hardly believe what I was feeling myself? I sat in silence the entire 45 minute bus ride, wondering in amazement at my feelings about home.
The teenagers on my homestead, who usually regard my presence with mild to medium interest, called and waved to me as I entered the gate. Zandele’s smile filled her face; Mcolisi and Machewe cheerfully said welcome home; and Nomdumiso said they were missing me. I replied, very honestly, “I was missing everyone. I am very happy to be home.” As I opened the door to my hut, I sighed with relief. I was home.
It feels good to feel at home in a place so far away and so opposite of my previously held definition of home. Home really is where the heart is. Cliché, yes, I know. But with the exception of my childhood home, I’ve never felt more at home than I feel here.
May 28, 2009- Getting back to Normal: I’m still not back to my regular schedule. I’ve been going to bed earlier than before, around 9pm, and I’m still having trouble getting out of bed by 7am. I happily returned to work at the clinic. But in my absence they seemed to have organized their processes, making them more efficient, leaving me feel like I’m in the way and unsure of what I should be doing. I visited the high school wanting to confirm my after-school career guidance class. I didn’t find the Head Teacher or the Deputy Head Teacher; in fact I found few teachers at all. Only five of my 30 health club students showed to our meeting and the teacher counterpart for the club said she couldn’t attend because she was too busy. Will anything ever really begin?
My successes/accomplishments this week happened at the primary school. I talked to the Deputy Head Teacher about teaching an environmental and current events class next term to the 6th graders I taught last term. She enthusiastically agreed, saying the students need an awareness of the world around them. Hurray! My second success is with the teachers I tutor. They were ready to get back to reading and interpreting their curriculum development in the postmodern era book. The other success happened w/ my Make. She wanted me to teach her to make soap. I contemplated teaching her the lye method, which lasted only a day; I began to think of all the things that could go wrong. Instead I researched places to buy melt-and-pour glycerin-based soap. The closest store is in Jo’burg. After I told her that, she insisted people from here often go to Jo’burg weekly or monthly, and if I give her the list of ingredients she would give them to the next person going that direction. She would also call her son living in Durban and ask him to find it there then send it to her. I tried to explain how expensive that would get, but she said the expense was not important. She told me, God willing, the money would come. To appease her in the meantime, I taught her to make body scrubs, one with ground coffee and the other with sea salts and lavender oil. She was in heaven, especially after trying them. She is selling them this weekend at a trade show in Nhlangano.
Small successes, yes, but those three things helped me feel like I was back to a somewhat normal schedule. I felt some sense of accomplishment for this month. Considering May is ending, and my trimester report for Peace Corps is due June 1st, I wanted to carry out something to ease my conscience.