August 20th-24th, 2012
This past week I have helped my neighbor volunteer Addy put on a giant Cleaning Campaign for our community. What a week – I don’t think I have logged that many work hours since leaving my last job in America. The first two days were full of training of trainers in good hygiene practices, proper trash disposal, and recycling with speakers from local Swazi environmental agencies and fellow PCVs. Addy had arranged for 40 RHMs (rural health motivators) from our community to attend the trainings so they could then go out into the community and train other in what they learned, as well as 20 members of the refugee camp. We had the training at the refugee camp, finally getting approval to use the large meeting building. The third day the 20 refugees who attended the first two days planned lessons and implemented them to all the other members of the refugee camp. It was fun to watch them teach each other – at one point us PCVs were all just sitting and watching the knowledge that was learned being passed on - it was a good feeling knowing the education was sustainable.
The last two days were physical clean up day. Like adopt-a-hwy, except it was more like adopt-a-refugee camp and adopt-a-dirt road. The refugee spent a whole day collecting 60 bags of garbage from around the camp, as well as constructing two trash pits, and cleaning the public bathrooms. We had so many of the camp members there to help out and they were excited and eager to make their living environment better. Its amazing that just a black garbage bag, plastic gloves and a little encouragement could easily motivate people to take pride in their homes. The last day the RHMs joined us again and we all walked from the main tar road to the camp and picked up trash all along the way. We collected about 20 bags worth, and could have done 20 more but it was tiring work. However the road looks so much better. There is no trash disposal service in these rural areas and people are responsible to burn their own, but there is a serious lack of responsibility in that. Every day I see someone litter as if its no big deal and the wind and dogs haul trash everywhere even when it does get put into a trash pit. I hope that we were all able to spark an interest in others to become leaders in keeping the community clean.
It was also great to see the refugees and the Swazis working together. They all live in the same areas but tend to be divided so it was great to connect different parts of the community. I am so proud of Addy who organized this project. It took months and months of meetings and planning and trips to town to get everything in order and it went so well. I am happy to have gotten a chance to help, while I didn’t mostly organizational stuff (check-in, room prep and take down) and helped doing whatever was needed it was fun to be involved. I did get to do a condom demonstration, which is surprisingly starting to be what I’m know for, haha.
I’m so tired from the week but it was great to so the outcome of a successful event. To celebrate Addy and Ryan hosted a braai at the their homestead for those who helped. We had more meat then I’ve had in months and over indulged but didn’t care one bit – we all earned it!!