Our first two days here have been nothing less than surreal. Falling asleep to the crickets and waking up to roosters in a rural Swazi village is truly an amazing experience. Our first day, we got our bearings...and groceries...and information on what we are here to do. Probably most importantly, we continued to build rapport with each other. We are living in close quarters, so getting to know each other is important because we will be spending a lot of time together... living, working and ultimately growing as individuals. We will share experiences that will move us and change us so building those relationships are paramount.
Our second day was very productive. We divided and conquered...some of us worked with some of the local villagers on the construction of the community centre, a part of the larger community. Some of us stayed in the heart of the SOS Children's Village and helped one of the house mothers to transplant some grass in her yard. The ground was pretty much solid red clay and it took shifts of us swinging the pick ax to get even through the first two or three inches. These amazing house mothers have 10 children to look after...meals to cook, laundry to do, medical needs to attend to, a house to be kept...oh, and did I mention, 10 children to look after? I think we were all more than happy to help her with something that was necessary, but probably not a priority with 10 children to look after!
Ever try to herd squirrels? Well, I think Rob and Will, our group's leaders, have a PhD in it. They have demonstrated steadfast patience and grace and their experience has directed us to consider local customs and ways of life.
We are impressed with the approach here...the partnership between Developing World Connections, SOS Children's Villages and us. We are here to help...we are not here to fix in a way that is frivolous, temporary or impractical. We are agreed: We want attainable, sustainable development that works for these beautiful people long after we leave. We are here to help and learn, not to impart or impose.
As a group, we debrief... a lot. I think we need to just to be able to process what we are involved in—to be able to wrap our heads around some things...the circumstances, the insurmountable obstacles that Swazis face, but perhaps ultimately celebrating their resiliency, learning from them and perhaps taking stock of how we really have absolutely nothing to complain about in our regular lives.
So many emotions and introspections in only two days. Hold on...we are in for a ride.