A Travellerspoint blog

First Day in the Villages

(This post is from yesterday - 6/6/19 but wifi wasn't in the picture)

Hi guys, so while the WiFi is off at the Lodge, I may have trouble responding to comments :( I’m sorry. The worst part of being here is literally just how much I miss everyone. It’s such a new experience not being able to call someone at the touch of a button. I didn’t even take it for granted before; I just miss the luxury. Currently, my biggest challenge is looking at my watch, seeing the time back home, and wondering what everyone is doing or what I’d normally be doing. That really gets me, especially at night.

In other news, today was our first day of service work. We have two sessions: morning and afternoon. My morning session was at the clinic, but since we hadn’t had orientation, we read these premade informational sheets on “road safety” and “mental health” to the patients in the waiting room. We read in English while someone who works with African Impact (the group we are volunteering with) translated. My biggest worry was that we were forcing our volunteer work on them. Something I learned when preparing for this trip was that a lot of times volunteers come in to towns to “help” but never ask the people if the help they are providing is something they want/care about. I tried to put myself in their position and wondered if I’d appreciate two random people coming in and reading information sheets to me. They didn’t seem to care much about the road safety one, but they were really interested in mental health. Our translator said it was because it was a sickness, so they could treat it. The talks let them know that their feelings aren’t unique and can be helped by going to the doctor; mental health seems similar here as in the USA but in a separate context.

After lunch, my session was “family empowerment”. My partner and I went to a family’s house to play with the children. We made macaroni bracelets, played soccer, jump rope, and ring around the rosie, and painted nails – yes, I even got mine painted! The kids were so smart! They loved practicing counting in English and were so good at communicating with actions rather than words. I was very impressed. On the drive home, we all finally saw some hippos!!!! Finally!

My biggest takeaway from today is the speed of life in South Africa. Not the speed of day-to-day life, because that’s slower than molasses, but the speed at which people start having babies and die. I was talking with our translator and her daughter, who is 18, had to stop school a couple of years ago because she became pregnant. Also, I was showing her pictures of my parents and she asked, “Are they still with you?” and when I replied yes, she was surprised, but said “Oh, well I guess you are still young.” It was pretty eye opening to hear this first-hand.

Posted by kfkeane 13:25 Archived in South Africa Tagged village fun family volunteer south_africa service doctor wifi mental_health

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Hello! I was talking to Kaitlin and she said you had been posting, which your updates must be going to my spam mail because I hadn't seen that. I also read the posts out of order which I didn't figure out until about 3 posts in. Glad you are having fun! Sounds a lot like California, except a lot less populated. What do you have to teach about road safety?

I haven't been up to much other than school, so you aren't missing out on anything.

Have fun and I look forward to reading your next post.

by Casey

Glad that day 1 of volunteering went well. The family empowerment session sounds really nice. It's nice that you get to interact with people of different ages in multiple contexts.

Today is Sunmin's birthday, although we are both exhausted. I'm coming off of all-day (and all evening) work sessions. Meeting and interacting with 200+ people and listening to speakers all day, which was interesting but very tiring. Sunmin is coming up against and deadline next week and is barely sleeping this week, he is working so much. So, it will be nice to go out to dinner together and get a chance to catch up about this week. It's amazing you can live with someone and barely get a chance to connect during a crazy week like this one!

Otherwise, things are good. My facial was good and the aesthitician said my skin is really improving, which was a good reinforcement to what I already felt.

Happy Friday!

by Kaitlin

Casey: It's good to see you've found the blog! I bet you were pretty confused reading it out of order but honestly I often feel confused as well.What makes you say it's like California? I don't think it is except for the beach part. The road safety is because South Africa has the worst road safety in the world! I can see why. People are always walking in the streets and driving is very sketchy. Lots of people in one car and the cars are all very old. Keep me updated on your life! Thanks for reading and commenting. It means a lot

by Kayla Keane

Kaitlin: Wow, I'm exhausted just reading what you've been up to. Work sounds like a lot of listening still and not as much doing hands-on stuff yet. Interacting with that many people would leave me dead tired lol How was the birthday dinner? Did he finish his revisions in time? I hope the busy week didn't set your skin back! That stress really messes up the complexion. Have a good start to your week! New week, it's gonna be good :)

by Kayla Keane

Yeah, mostly listening and learning, but it's been good. I would rather get a sense of the background and goals first before jumping in. The birthday dinner was good - we had italian! It was nice to just sit down and eat together and talk.

Yes, Sunmin got his paper revisions in on time, but the past few weeks have been work work that's keeping him busy. Actually, my skin is still looking really good - the facial really is working it's magic!

by Kaitlin

It is like California because of the ocean and calmness and the beachfront for days. Yeah a lot of the third world countries have very poor driving restrictions and no safety. Guatemala was the same way.

by Casey

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