Our kaleidoscope of experiences and interactions with the Swazis continues to build our understanding, empathy and drive to make these two weeks as much as an impact for them as it is for us.
Contributing to this impact was our time we spent with the SOS children Thursday afternoon. The children trickled into the courtyard and we sprung into action...we played tag, we did relays, we played with Frisbees and skipping ropes and we sang songs. I think the initial reaction of most of us teachers was to make sure that every minute was used efficiently...heaven forbid children have some unstructured time. However, at one point I stood back and realized that these children were just happy “being.” They didn't need gadgets, computers, Gameboys, iPods or even sports equipment to be able to amuse themselves. They had this beautiful sensitivity and companionship in each other. In that moment when I was standing back and observing, those children taught me the ultimate lesson in being present. Just stop...acknowledge the people around you... breathe... and be grateful for that specific moment.
Humbled...I think that is the word that we would use to describe how we felt after our goodwill soccer game with the local village boys' soccer team. Yes, they had youth and spryness on their side, but most of them played in bare feet. An even playing field it was not...both literally and figuratively.
We have all had the fortunate experience to step outside our immediate community of the SOS Village and take in some of the local Swazi country and culture. Some of the highlights include the cultural village, including dancing and a tour of a traditional Swazi village; local craft markets; a game drive where most of us got to see animals only reserved for the fronts of postcards; and a sampling of some of some local flavours, including warthog and wildebeest.
Some of us took in a local church service. The church leaders and the community eagerly waited our arrival. We were, as per usual, greeted and welcomed with the most sincere open hearts. Rob, our group leader, had a special spot reserved for him in the front row along with the other important people of the church. He was a man full of dignity and grace when asked to stand at the front and say a few words and introduce the rest of the group.
Our time here is flying by...we know it is. When we are sitting around chatting in the evening and we reminisce about specific events, we all have trouble wrapping our heads around the fact that it happened only the day before. Swazi time...it astounds and it is profound.