This week has been one of the most significant weeks I have had since arriving in Swaziland. I was traveling since Wednesday morning through Saturday wearing the last semi clean clothes i had that didn’t smell…at least originally. After doing almost all of my laundry on Saturday evening, it decided to rain the next three days so my clothes never dried. Don’t take your laundry machine or dryer for granted, folks.
This week I travelled to my permanent site, where I will live for the next two years beginning August 28. I met my wonderful new family, the school I will be working in, and many of the community members and community leaders. I will be living in a wonderful community called Ludzibini in the Hhohho region (it literally sounds like a deep voices Santa) of Swaziland. This region is very mountainous and fully of banana, orange, mango, and avocado trees (paradise), and has soo much sugar cane it probably leads to thousands of jobs for dentists. Just north of my community, only a few miles away, is a beautiful mountain range which is actually part of South Africa.
My School, Ludzibini High School:
While at Ludzibini, I spent an entire school day visiting the school I will be working in, Ludzibini High School. The school currently has grades 8-11. It is very new, only 4 years old, and relatively small, having 125 students and 7 teachers. In many ways it reminds me of the school I worked at before the peace corps, in terms of size and the overwhelmingly friendly atmosphere demonstrated to me by the school faculty. The head teacher (similar to an American principal) came late to school. I figured it was because he is on Swazi time, which means you show up whenever you show up. Turns out it wasn’t the case. He was late to school because he was trying to find vegetables and other fruit in the surrounding communities because he was having the school cooks prepare a meal to welcome me to the school! They also gave me a leather bound yearly planner with the school emblem on it! I can’t say how excited I am to work in the school.
From talking with the head teacher I can tell we will be getting along very well. We discussed what interests and skills I have to bring to the school and nearly every one of them tied into a need the school currently has, such as teaching life skills or teaching the teachers about positive ways of handling unwanted behavior without resulting to the only known method of corporal punishment.
I have three siblings that go to the school and I expect will help me better get to know students in the school.
My Family, the Magagulas :
I am beyond excited to live with my permanent family, the Magagulas. I have 8 brothers and sisters which is great! We have 3 dogs, +/-10 cows, and several goats. I will be living in a beautiful large hut with a thatched roof which will be great in both the summer and winter because it helps regulate the temperature inside much better than a tin roof
While talking with my Make (mom), I quickly began to understand that she is going to have a huge impact on my ability to reach out to children in the community. She is in charge of all of the Neighborhood Care Points (NCPs) in my community. These NCPs are where children come if they don’t have any food to eat at home or if they are orphans or just need help. When I told her I hope to reach out and work with children with special needs she quickly told me she knows where I can find nearly every child in the community and will help introduce me to them. It is going to be a very fruitful relationship already. Make speaks excellent English and is extremely well respected in the community.
My Babe (dad) is a very kind man. It is hard to really describe him. You can just tell he is a kind and thoughtful man, even though he speaks almost no English and I speak siSwati at a 3 year old level (I’m being generous with myself today). I can’t wait to get to know all of them better!
There will be so much more to come in my blog about Ludzibini in the future. I was only there for 2 days and nights before returning to my host family in Nkamanzi. I love my family in Nkamanzi. I will miss them very much as I really feel like I am part of the family. This was confirmed by my Babe when he greeted me back when I returned home. He told me the family just felt incomplete the past 4 days while I was traveling; the children weren’t as happy as they are when I am around. It was a very kind thing to say. If there is one thing I want everyone to know is that the Swazi are the most friendly people I have ever met. Both of my Swazi families demonstrate this to me on a daily basis.