I am always told that change is good. Maybe it's best to be told that, being in a new situation and all.
Uncertainty is something I fear most – being an A-type personality, I guess it comes with the territory. But I feel like the changes I've undergone in the last tow months haven't been filled with uncertainty at all – more so, they seem to be an alignment of sorts that has made me the way I've always wanted to be. Or maybe I'm just happy because I don't have to wear shoes here – it's a fine line.
So here are some changes that have occurred since my departure from Pearson in April:
Yes, my feet are yucky. I walk everywhere barefoot; grocery store, internet café, breakfast shop, you name it. Today I even built bricks and mixed cement barefoot. I play with the kids, teach, farm, paint the church barefoot. Mpho makes fun of me because every morning I retrieve my shoes from the car and put them on, only to leave them there once we arrive at the day care. I wear a toe ring and an anklet made by the women at the support group. I've bought a de-worming tablet, because it's been raining and I have probably got sandworms. Either way, life is better barefoot.
Day Care Centre
From the Isoyi until now there have been so many improvements in the building of the new crèche. We broke ground, and next week the roof is going on! I've made over 400 bricks, and the building should be done next week. Finally, the kids will be able to have shelter to learn in (although teaching under a tree is fun), a dry place when it rains, and warmth during the winter.
Over forty adults have passed the HIV education test since I arrived, after their week-long course. They've provided one of the most memorable experiences for me here. The joy they experience learning to help their families and fight stigma and discrimination is too inspiring for words. Ongoing is our school program, which has been deemed a success by all parties involve and will continue at the local primary school with a new group of kids next week.
Most agree that support is a key component in the fight against HIV. Cynthia, the nurse at Monzi Clinic said everyone needs council about their status – where they are negative or positive. Rasta, HIV positive for ten years, says the support of his family got him through his two years of TB and continues to keep him healthy. The women that gather at African Impact's support group in Khula support each other through friendship, shared interests and activities like farming and beading. Support is something I have come to believe would help us all if we could all manage to provide more for one another.
Bar a couple of disgusting burns, I have been able to change my squeamish ways to aid in many medical situations with both Amy (nurse) and Jenna (doctor). The baby with the third degree burns is doing much better. One hospital trip later and little S'fiso's brother was back at crèche in a couple of days. Sandworms have been squeezed out of at least a dozen kids. Cuts have been mended, sores have been dressed and many accidents have been cleaned up. I've learned that sometimes the best way to help during the dressing of a wound is with kind words (Zulu or English), a hug, a cuddle and a few stickers.
So those are just a few examples of the improvements and changes that have occurred to and around me over the past two weeks, or at least some of the most profound. I have no idea what it will be like to go back home. It's so hard to explain the joy, pain, heartache, pleasure, frustration and so many other emotions I've experienced. It's so clichéd - but I'll never be the same. I don't think I want to stay unchanged. I like this new feeling.