Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Bushfire: Bring Your Fire

May 31st – June 2nd, 2013

The fire was for sure brought this weekend at Bushfire!!

Bushfire Music Festival is one of the greatest things about serving in Swaziland.  For those who don’t remember by blog from last year, it is a three-day call to action.  Through celebrating the arts: music, written word, dance, drama, the festival is meant to inspire, encourage, and celebrate efforts in development, education, and outreach to make communities a better place to live.

I decided to camp on the festival grounds this year with the majority of the other PCVs from Swaziland and a group of PCVs from Mozambique.  It was so much fun.  Three days of awesome music and artists representing Africa, South America, and Europe, great food from all over the world, and of course access to buying goods from all the craft stands representing the fair trade handicraft market here in Swaziland.  The refugee camp I have worked with in the past was represented in the food court.  They had a booth that my fellow PCVs Ryan and Addy helped them organize and they sold native food from Rwanda, Burundi, and Somalia. It was awesome and their stand was very popular.

My favorite acts over the three days were Toya DeLazy (popular SA pop artist), Jeremy Loops, The Muffins (an urban indie jazz band), The soil (acapella group), and Guy Buttery (acoustic guitarist).  There was also a really impressive string quartet from Austria that accompanied a Mozambique band mixing Classical and African rhythms.

Bushfire Stage by Day

If anyone is in Southern Africa in late May/early June, Bushfire is a must.  One of my favorite weekends!!  Late nights dancing, lazy days sitting listening to music, good food, good friends, can’t get better than that. 

For more info check out their website at www.bushfire.co.za

bring your fire!

Free Sterilization for Disadvantaged Animals

May 12th, 2013

After months and months of trying to find a cheap place to get the family cat neutered, Addy and I responded to a newspaper clipping advertising a free sterilization day that was being sponsored by Swaziland Animal Welfare Society (SAWS), Swaziland Government Veterinary services and local private vets, and all being funded by an insurance company from South Africa.  Can’t get much cheaper than free, so we made an appointment to see what it was all about.

Addy and Ryan’s Host Dad owns a car so he loaded them and their female dog (who has had 16 puppies in the last year) and my cat and I up, and we set off at dawn to the center of the country.  We ended up at an elementary school where makeshift surgery and recovery rooms had been prepared in the classrooms.  With about 40 other dogs and their owners, we waited in a field from 7:30am until 3:30pm before they called our numbers.

They could operate on several animals at a time and since it was in a classroom, we could stand outside and watch from the windows.  Both my cat and Addy’s dog did great, and recovered just fine.  We got to sit in the recovery room as the animals woke up and helped out with the rest of the volunteers who were there.  We were the only white people not volunteering at the event so we kept getting asked to do things by mistake, but we helped anyways.

The day was long, but a really sweet deal.  All for free we got our animals fixed, de-wormed, treated with tick and flea medication, and got their annual vaccinations.  And in true Swazi fashion the event included lunch and a tea break.  Nothing is really free here unless food comes with it.

Overall, this event was awesome.  It was the first of its kind here and much needed.  Animal welfare isn’t a priority here, stray animals are abundant, and malnourished animals are the norm.  By providing this service, the vets were also allowed to talk with owners and educate them.  They were really prepared with information for all ages.  It was nice to see so many people show up to have their animals taken care of, it shows that if available people really do want proper care for their animals, its just not accessible in these rural areas.

COS Conference

May 6th – 9th, 2013

Close of Service (COS) Conference… can’t believe it’s that time in my service already. 

Just one day after Camp GLOW ended, all of the Mighty Fine Group 9 met at our Peace Corps Office.  We were then bused to the nice Forester Arms Hotel, tucked away in the forests of the Hhohho region.

We spent 3 glorious days sleeping in really comfortable beds, loving indoor plumbing (that we only had to share with one other person), eating buffets for breakfast and lunch, and four course dinners.  When we weren’t enjoying these fine things, we were being prepared for what comes next.  How do we rap up two years in Swaziland? How do we go back to America and re-assimilate? How do we get a job?  And how do we talk about Swaziland in five minutes to people who simply don’t care?

To help fuel the excitement about what comes after Peace Corps we were all given our official Close of Service dates.  So here it is…  I am officially COSing on July 18th!!!  I will do a bit of traveling before coming stateside again, but plan to be back in MN mid-August.

For the three days we also reflected on our last two years, hardly believing that we made it through.  Granted we are much smaller then when we came.  We started with 39 in our group and are down to 23 for various reasons, but despite our dwindling numbers we are still mighty fine!  We have become so close over the last two years; it’s hard to think that when I go back to MN I won’t have my G9 PCVs there with me when I get off the plane.  Good thing airtime (cell phone minutes) is much more cheap (see I can’t even speak proper English anymore) in America.

As we left the conference, we celebrated our 23rd month anniversary.  Then it was back to site, after two weeks away.  No matter how integrated you feel, it’s always a transition back to hut life, but I was also returning with the heavy task of having to start packing, getting rid of things, and saying goodbye.  Two months is going to go by very fast.

The Mighty Fine G9!!!