Thursday, July 18, 2013

Goodbyes, Goodbyes, Goodbyes

July 6th-7th, 2013


I had a whirlwind of goodbyes to attend to this weekend. 

It all started Saturday morning when Addy, Ryan, and I went to Umphakatsi (local community government) to say our official goodbye to our community chief.  We waited around until called and then sat with the chief under the official tree in the Royal kraal.  All the men sat on tree stumps and us women arranged ourselves on lihiyas (fabric) on the ground.  We each greeted the chief and his inner council and explained what projects we had completed over the two years and expressed our thanks for being allowed to work within the community.  The chief replied with his own thanks, and we were dismissed.  Then we all relocated into the Umphakatsi building for the community meeting where we officially said goodbye to the community.  Again we all took turns saying our thanks, I am always last of the three to speak, so I tried to make mine funny by thanking the community for teaching me to wash my clothes, cook my food, and weed my garden.  It was a crowd pleaser.  All the official goodbyes were done by noon, so after Addy and Ryan made a quick appearance at my homestead, which is near Umphakatsi, to say goodbye to my host family.

We all then headed over to Mpaka and the Refugee Camp.  Our counterparts and friends at the camp put on a goodbye lunch for us that was such a great surprise.  Mr. Moogie, one of our oldest counterparts who is like a father to us, cooked us a Somalian meal that we all shared and was amazing.  After eating we had some entertainment.  One of the High School kids at the camp wrote us a few farewell songs that he performed on his guitar.  They were so nice and talked about keeping the hope, and staying in touch, and being strong to continue the work we have all done at the camp.  I was so touched.  It’s pretty rare to get real appreciation for the work we do here and these songs and this meal were the best form of thank you we could ask for.  We had another round of speeches, which caused some tears.  We have a special relationship with the refugee camp that is very different from our relationship with our Swazi counterparts.   Its is sad to leave our friends here, but the changed that has happened at the camp over the two years is amazing to see.  We came, we suggested ideas, we worked together, and now we go leaving behind the tools that they need to keep going.  And the best part is that they are using these tools.  They have plans and goals and committees and better communication.  I am excited to keep tabs on the happenings at the camp, to see the progress that I know will continue to happen there.


Afterwards, I made a quick stop at Addy and Ryan’s homestead to say farewell to their family.  Then it was back to my homestead where my host sisters greeted me who all came home to through me a farewell party.  We cooked a great meal and took tons of fun family photos and celebrated being together one last time.  The party lasted into Sunday with another meal, gift exchanges, more photos, and a very chaotic raiding of the things I am getting rid of before I leave.  It felt like Christmas.  But then sadly we had to eventually say our goodbyes to each other too.  Thankfully all my host sisters have whatsapp so we will be able to keep in touch easily. 
It was a very busy, emotional 24 hours.  It’s weird to say goodbye after two years and not know if you will ever be able to say hello again.  I am so thankful to have these people in my life, and they will stay with me forever.

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