August 8th, 2011
So training is officially over. We had to say goodbye to our host families and pack up all our stuff and move to the capital for a few days before going out to our permanent sites.
It was so hard to say goodbye to my host family. I cried. Not like a baby but there were tears. I feel I need to dedicate this blog post to them so I am going to describe the members of my host fam in detail as a little tribute to them, because I want all of you to know them like I do!
Make Mamba (mom)
Make is a wonder woman. She is a stay at home mom who raised eight children well! Her husband works away so she literally manages the homestead single handedly, and she manages to find time to be very involved in her community. She teaches Sunday school, helps run the NCP (National care point) where OVCs (orphan and vulnerable children) can go and eat perhaps their only meal for the day, and wakes up at 3am every morning to make buns that she sells at the schools for a little extra income. She treated me just like another one of her children. Called me out for not ironing my skirt or washing my shoes, and was willing to help me find a solution to any problem. She taught me to wash my clothes, cook simple dishes so I wouldn’t starve, and was always dished me up food even when I insisted that I just ate. She made me feel loved when my own mom was so far away.
Babe Mamba (dad)
Quite, gentle, funny, hard working. Those are the words that describe Babe. He goes for weeks at a time to work as a construction manager to provide for his family. He has taught his sons to be kind, helpful, spiritual, and smart. I can tell just by the quality of his homestead that he takes pride in his work. The structures are well built, safe, clean, and the homestead is orderly, aesthetically pleasing and functional. Even though I only saw him a handful of times while I lived there he always greeted me with a warm smile and helped me with my siSwati. He even taught me a children’s rhyme to help me remember some words.
Sandile is my creative brother. He is musical and artistic; he likes to rap and sketch designs. You can see his creativity when you look at him. He is highly expressive and his eyes tell a lot. We have had some great chats about religion, music, and dreams. He was also my first FB friend from Africa!
Bongani is my sporty brother. He wears the typical windbreaker pants and soccer polo or hoody. He works construction and is very quite. It took awhile, but eventually we began to open up to each other. After a few weeks he would stop by my hut when he arrived home and greet me. He was on team Make and would only speak to me in siSwati, which helped me improve!
My sister from another mister. I knew from the moment we met we would be friends. Sometimes you can just tell. I guess it was sister love at first site. She has to most kind face, soft and gentle and eyes that are always welcoming. She has been my greatest teacher in how to become a Swazi woman. We laugh, watch movies on Saturday nights, have girl chat while doing our laundry, and listen to R&B music.
Samu is gorgeous. She has the face of a model. She also has a heart of gold. She is kind and funny and willing to help me with anything! I really started to appreciate her friendship in last few weeks. Her smile is comforting and her presence calming.
Andile and I never really talked. He is quite around me. Not shy, he is great with the younger girls and laughs a lot with the boys, but we never were able to connect verbally. But it’s ok because we hung out a lot just by being in the same place at the same time (usually the kitchen) and I feel we created a weird acquaintance that we were both comfortable with. Friends by association, with more time I feel we could have really warmed up to each other.
Thabo is my smart brother. Don’t get me wrong they are all smart, but Thabo, he thrives on knowledge. He is inquisitive, eager to understand and ask questions. Starting week one we have had the best conversations about anything and everything. He has an old soul, way mature for his age and we bonded immediately. He gave me comfort just by being a friend when Swaziland was still a scary foreign place. He helped when I got lost in translation, was the best siSwati tutor ever, and constantly made sure that I was surviving. He allowed me to teach him about America and my life and he taught me so much about Swazis.
Tutu and my relationship is similar to Andile’s and mine. We were friends by association, but I got this feeling that she was over my presence and the excitement it caused the family. Maybe our shyness got the best of us, we never really found a way to connect outside of simple small talk. Maybe she was the only one who realized that I am not as cool and interesting as everyone else thought I was. Still I enjoyed her company.
Anele is the trickster of the bunch. Being the youngest she gets away with everything and has a wonderful sense of humor. For example one night she finished the juice and filled the container back up with water so to trick the next person who went to pour some juice. Lindiwe was the unfortunate recipient of the prank, but it sent the kitchen into stomach aching laughter. Being 7 she also has some attitude in a harmless way. She is really a great kid, loves hanging out with her older siblings, and always smiling at me. She was the perfect person to practice my siSwati with, always spoke with the just the right speed and annunciation for me to understand without asking to repeat please a thousand times.
Did I mention that there last name is Mamba. A creature feared by most. My last name is leech, a creature feared by most. Mambas, Leeches, so you see we are all just creatures feared by most.