As I sit here in my hut alone I can’t help but notice how different my life is right now from what I am used to in the United States. I look outside and just see open fields, huts and mountains. There are chickens and roosters than sit on my front step and cows wandering in the field next to me. I have lived near farms but never lived quite this rural. It’s peaceful but will also take some time to get used to it. Today I am a bit sad because I am missing a family wedding. I knew when I signed up for the Peace Corps that it was likely I would miss family events but I don’t think I actually realized how it would feel. Don’t get me wrong I am excited about living in Africa and the work I will get to do here but knowing that all of my family is gathered in one place and I can’t be there is difficult.
I have been in Swaziland for 9 days now and it feels like weeks, maybe even months. Today is Saturday July 6th, and tomorrow is the first free day I will have since I have been here. Every day is full of learning siSwati and learning about the Peace Corps. The sessions are informative but draining because the schedule leaves little free time. We have sessions Monday – Saturday from about 7am-5pm, which includes transportation time. That time commitment is just for the sessions. That does not include the time it takes to do all of the other everyday things that need to get done.
The PC has a water system that we are supposed to follow. This process involves boiling water for 10 minutes before it can be used for anything. This means, drinking, cooking, bathing, laundry and anything else that would involve water touching my skin or getting ingested. I am then supposed to filter and bleach and drinking water. Now this may sound complicated but not awful but when you combined it with a two burner stove and just small pots and a teakettle it’s a bit of a challenge. I am actually one of the lucky ones right now because my PST (Pre-Servicing Training) site has electricity. I am able to do things after dark without the aid of a flashlight or candle, unlike some of my fellow volunteers.
My site is actually really unique though because it is a child-headed household. Child-headed households are common in Swaziland because of the rate of HIV/AIDS. I am the only volunteer placed in a child-headed household right now. I am actually four years older than anyone else at my homestead. When I first arrived at the homestead I was really sad. I knew child-headed homes were a reality in Swaziland but to have one become my home was unexpected. Truthfully they are on of the lucky child-headed homes because they are all in their late teens or early 20s and not 13 or 14 and trying to raise younger siblings.
I had my first, hand-washing all of my laundry experience. this weekend. It is quite a production. I haven’t been able to do laundry since I arrived so I had a lot of washing. It took me about 2.5 hours to complete the whole process. I will be sure to do laundry at least once a week from now on to maybe help cut the time down. I have a feeling I am going to miss having a washing machine more than some foods during these two years. I find that thought completely annoying but very accurate. I have lived a spoiled life in the US with plumbing, electricity and appliances. These two years will get to serve as a reality check.
(The Disney reference in the title is for my new friend Elizabeth!)