Friday, July 13, 2012
Moment by Moment
I’m discovering that oftentimes the smallest things make the biggest impact on this whole experience. It’s a process of learning to cherish those minute details that I probably would have overlooked before, and overlooking the big details that probably would have bothered me before.
As I walked to work, I was surprised to find Gobojango bustling with more people than usual (normally there are 1800 people here. Today there were about 1850 people haha). I later discovered the reason was that there are to be two weddings in Gobas this weekend. An entire herd (?) of cattle had been rounded up in the local kraal to be offered both as lobola (dowry paid by the groom to the bride’s family) or to be slaughtered for the ceremonies. An old woman wearing a toothless smile approached me, grabbed my hand, and walked with me half way to the clinic, passionately telling me this grand story in Setswana that I could hardly understand.
Once at the clinic, I sat down in the waiting area, took a breath, and looked around at the walls. Since I’ve arrived, I’ve tried my best to make the building look a lot less barren and bit more comforting. I found fulfillment in the fact that posters and colorful informational signs hung, staring back at me, encouraging positive behavior. It’s not often that we are able to see a visual representation of our success here in Peace Corps Botswana, so it felt rewarding to see that.
The blustery winds whooshed through the windows, as the clouds overhead sheltered any sun from reaching the village. It was a nice change of weather and I found solace in the dimness. I sat in the main consultation room and began writing letters back home. When my counterpart had finished drawing blood, Topo came and sat with me and asked me to help him learn how to type without looking at the keyboard. What was supposed to be a few minute lesson turned into us speaking and listening to music and therefore missing lunch by almost an hour. We decided to part our ways and take a late lunch.
For lunch I ate a delicious pastrami and gouda sandwich and completed a survey for the Peace Corps. Boom. Another thing accomplished. By the time I had returned to the clinic, the power in the entire village had shut off so I pulled out my ipod and clicked on some music to move to. Right when I was about to turn it off, I looked around at the people I work with and noticed that every single one of them was either bobbing their head or shaking their shoulders. Needless to say, we had an all-out dance party in the darkness of the Maternal Health room. I was so happy. The people I work with are so splendid. Meleko, the sanitation assistant, proceeded to bring a large Tupperware container filled with food for the five of us to share.
Above is the picture of everyone whom I work with at the Health Post. Starting from the top left is Kgomotso, one of the drivers, then Mma Seleke, the head nurse, Letho the cleaner, Meleko, the sanitation assitant, me, Oratile the Maternal and Child Health attendant, then the bottom left is Moilwa the other driver, and Topo, my counterpart. They are a great group of people =)
“Kitso, come and wash your hands. Re tla ja nama jwaneng jwana” (we will eat meat, now now.)
As I tried masticating the gamey-tasting meat, I attempted to conceal my repugnance. The red meat was grimy to the taste and fibrous in texture. It was unlike anything I’ve ever eaten before. As I realized they had all been intently watching my reaction, I immediately knew that we were eating something out of the ordinary. They all started speaking Setswana and laughing while my mind began racing with images of what types of animal could be traveling through my digestive system at that moment. I never quite got a definitive answer, however. Apparently it could have been goat.
Anyway, the two older women working in the clinic, Oratile and Letho, left to attend the wedding festivities, Meleko disappeared and Topo and I migrated into the consultation room where I proceeded to remove my handy dandy deck of cards out of my back pack. I taught him how to play continental, while he taught me to play crazy 8. I taught him to play King’s cup, and awed him with some card tricks. (I feel like Forrest Gump, “she taught me how to read, I taught her how to dangle…haha)
We played cards for hours. The moment we both realized the sun was going down, he walked me halfway home, I received a phone call from someone I haven’t heard from in weeks (TJ), and I picked up Caesar, and settled into my comfy little home.
Finally, the electricity came back on and I turned on my computer. To my ultimate surprise and elation, I was able to access internet and speak to my Uncle James and little cousins Alana, Mackenzie, Sydney, and JJ. Though the video isn’t as accessible as I’d like it to be, I couldn’t stop smiling just hearing their voices. I must have looked like a fool cooking dinner for myself with an ear-to-ear grin on my face. Even while I was bathing Caesar I caught myself smiling.
Like I said, nothing huge happened today. Lots of small things, really. But how lucky am I to have these little puzzle pieces of goodness to make me feel happy throughout the day? Let me tell you, they really help to brighten gloomy weather.
One thing that I’ve learned for sure is that “It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness”. So even if I can’t quite find my matches one day, by golly I’ll improvise with a flint stick or something if I have to. As long as I don’t allow the darkness to take over, everything is gonna be alright.
And I’m going to take this adventure one day at a time.
And one happy moment at a time.
Sending positive vibes and light your way!