A Travellerspoint blog

Give It Time

sunny 75 °F

I’m a little surprised by myself. I keep waking up so tired and feeling unmotivated, but I stay dedicated and run each morning. I enjoy running so much and I am always grateful when I do it, but it’s so hard to get excited and pumped to run early in the morning. Most days, I think of my mom and how she works all day but continues to wake up every day at about 5 AM to do her runs. She motivates me to run the most out of anything, especially since she is running her first ½ marathon this weekend. She has no idea how proud I am of her. It’s making me so sad to not be there and I think of her accomplishments every day.

So something I’ve been talking about in my blogs a little bit is how I don’t feel welcomed in the community. Today, my perspective changed a little. I was walking around before dinner and realized that less people were staring at me and more were saying hello to me. I’ve noticed people are really happy when I greet them in Zulu. While walking, I decided that because I’m always out running/walking through town, people see me and recognize me (I stand out like a sore thumb with my hair/skin color) and have noticed I’m not just here for a week, but more permanent. As reinforcement of this point, I was almost home, and a security guard at the Lodge next door waved and stood up to talk to me more. He said he sees me running every morning and can tell I have an energy and love of running. I learned his name is Talent and that he lives in the nearby village Khula. I told him a little about myself and said I’d see him tomorrow! I left that conversation with renewed energy, just so happy.

Honestly, the biggest thing I think I’m learning from this trip is patience. Everything takes time. It took me about 2 weeks to stop feeling homesick and it took until almost the end of week 3 to feel welcomed in the community. It’s all just an adjustment.

Something I don’t think I’ll ever become accustomed to, though, is the germs that children carry!! This morning I was working at Holiday Club (basically day care). Here is just one example. A kid had come up to me wanting to hold hands and jump on me. I let him, of course. Then, five minutes later, I see him peeing in the grass and then fondling his junk for about 3 minutes. I’m still horrified. Needless to say, I disinfected up to my shoulders when I got home, because you know if one child is doing it, they all are.

The afternoon was chill, though. I had gardening, my absolute favorite! All we did was water the community garden we had helped plant the first week. The plants are really growing quickly! Then we sat on a hill and chilled and talked while waiting for the bus. Dinner was great; I had beef (yay red meat!), and now we are just getting ready for karaoke night. Still not sure how to feel about it. I could totally go for just eating and playing sudoku while a movie plays in the background, but I’m sure this will be interesting too.

Update: Sang Hips Don't Lie and A Whole New World

Posted by kfkeane 11:01 Archived in South Africa Tagged food water friend garden dinner run time karaoke beef volunteer zulu patience adjustment germs Comments (2)

Never Just Another Day

sunny 73 °F

I started the morning with some bad omens: I saw a dead baby monkey, a dead baby snake, and then an entire flock of very angry monkey were bringing their fight straight towards me and I thought they were going to bring me into the fight (I was picturing the Hunger Games monkey attack scene the whole time).

Actually, the day ended up being pretty nice. It was actually…normal (?) or as normal as life gets in South Africa. I went to support group in the morning. We waited about an hour in a shed just talking to each other while the translator/local went and picked up all of the women. I didn’t mind because once project officially begins, the time can go pretty slowly, so having some time to talk with everyone was nice. Our topic at support group today was “gender equality”. We asked them to tell us expectations they have for males and females, then asked them how they’d feel if we switched the expectations between genders. Honestly, I think these women were already pretty progressive. They come to support group every week and have been going for years, so they are exposed to talking about topics that may typically be considered uncomfortable. I’m continuously impressed with the progress South Africa has made since becoming independent, which happened recently (1994). Every generation seems to be growing upon the progress that was previously made. It’s rapid and it’s impressive.

Afternoon was chill as well. We did a clinic session on healthy eating. Basically, we read an information sheet (one that was prepared during our planning session on Monday afternoon) and the translator read it to the patients in the waiting room. I always wonder what she is saying though :D because she seems to be saying a lot more words than we read. When we finished, we went to this roadside store called a “Tuck Stop”. They are scattered throughout the villages and sell pop, chips, candy, and this thing called a combo which is a sweet roll and chili fries (I know – kind of random). Unfortunately, I gave in and drank my entire water bottle during project, and I just couldn’t hold it in any longer, so I used the porta potty. I just had to believe in myself because my legs were shaking as I squatted in the tiny, rusted, smelly john. The relief I felt was worth it, though.

Now I’m just waiting for dinner, which thankfully is something I can eat again (ground beef). Since being home from afternoon project, I went for a short walk, did some abs/stretching, and wrote some thank-you notes. After dinner I’m hoping for popcorn, movie, and doing some research on asking companies to donate goods for causes (I’m trying to compose an email to send to dental hygiene companies asking for toothbrushes that African Impact can give to children in preschools here). That’s about it for me! Veeeeery tired though.

Posted by kfkeane 09:35 Archived in South Africa Tagged food death expectations care volunteer session healthy preschool equality pride gender toothbrush omen Comments (3)

Monkey See, Monkey Do

sunny 80 °F

Good Moooooorning San Francisco!! I thought of that on my walk this afternoon. I feel like I’m doing a daily broadcast with my blogs – love it! So this morning I ran again. I’m always anxious to run after a day off. It was actually kind of chilly – like I could see my breath! Something I realized while warming up for my run, though, was that I have a serious monkey/copy-cat. The girl I go running with follows me everywhere and does everything I do. I’m a very independent person who values her alone time, so this really bothers me. For example, before she met me, she said she ran at most 3x/week for about 2 miles; now she runs 6 days/week for about 4 miles. Also, she used to just hop out of bed and run, but now she has to do the exact. same. warmup exercises that I do. This morning, I also looked over and she was doing my ankle rehab exercises and I’m not sure she knows why she is doing any of the exercises in the first place except for that it’s what I’m doing. She also asks to go on walks with me after dinner because she knows I like to go for walks and go to the gym to stretch. There are some benefits, though. She made me a dinner without garlic and onions last weekend and made the layout for my journal calendar, so I didn’t even have to be creative; I just copied her design. I feel slightly guilty, but I get annoyed by having a shadow. I know she only has good intentions, though, which keeps me from saying anything.

Project-wise, in the morning I was at Holiday Club, which is basically day-care. We did about 45 minutes of songs, crafts, free play, and snack time. I later wrote some postcards to friends and family. After my run, I had spoken to the volunteer coordinator about the food continuing to have onions/garlic in it, so at lunch I was met with the beautiful surprise of *plain* chicken!!! It was so nice to eat a meal and know it was safe to eat. In the afternoon, I had gardening, which is my favorite project. I helped turn the dirt and then watered the plants after they were in the dirt. We created an entire garden from scratch for a family. My opinions about this volunteer organization’s work are starting to transform. I feel like this kind of work is actually beneficial; imagine how many gardens we could build for families in one year. This one garden took us less than 2 hours! I still have my doubts about some of the health-care volunteer work, but I think the garden work is really beneficial! Counting down the days to leave still. Twelve left after today.

Posted by kfkeane 11:14 Archived in South Africa Tagged food monkey garden family run weather chicken volunteer preschool copy gym countdown count_down Comments (3)

All of the Small Things

sunny 74 °F

I don’t know what it is, but I’ve been so tired lately. I didn’t run today; my alarm went off and immediately I said “nope!”. Project this morning was actually pretty fun! We were on physiotherapy, so we go to people’s houses and help them do rehab. It’s so funny because absolutely nothing goes according to plan here. We all piled into the car and found out it had a flat tire. They ended up filling it up and we went on our merry way – even though it had a hole in it. We got to the first house and it was a little confusing because we had no previous knowledge of the patient’s rehab program; we just had notes to follow from the previous group who had helped. This is how every project seems to be; a little is always lost in translation – like maybe it’d be better to have one group work on a project for a longer period of time so that it’s not like starting over every day. The patient was so happy to have us there, which was fun :) On our way to the next patient, we passed someone who our driver/translator wanted to help because she is a cancer patient who works with African Impact. She was on her way to fill up her water jugs, but we picked up the jugs and filled them so she didn’t have to. This was a really interesting experience to me. I didn’t realize how far people walked to get water. And those jugs are HEAVY!! Also, the location we ended up filling at was just someone’s house who had built and donated a rain collector to the community so people could get water there for free. That was really kind and I feel like made a bigger difference than anything I had done the past two weeks. The rest of physio was great.

In the afternoon, we had planning, where we are assigned projects and design a plan for the week. I was part of the group that designed information sessions to read to the people in the waiting room of clinics. I ended up making a session on dental hygiene. I honestly can’t remember seeing a single village person without missing or damaged teeth. My next project I want to take up is contacting companies like Crest/Colgate to see if they would be willing to donate like 500 toothbrushes for children. I really believe that making a change has to start with the children, especially since in adulthood, the damage to teeth is probably too far gone to be changed.

Well, those were the biggest parts of today. It was a fairly big day for me though, as well, because I decided to wash my clothes in the sink so I didn’t have to go to the laundromat this week :D I’m very proud of that! I walked to the beach as well. I think this week will go fairly fast, and then it’s the safari this weekend!

Posted by kfkeane 10:15 Archived in South Africa Tagged water fun safari community impact laundry cancer rehab flat_tire physiotherapy hand_wash Comments (2)

Welcome or Not

sunny 76 °F

Today was a pretty lazy day. Even when I got up, I felt too tired and lazy to work out. I decided to write some thank you notes to the people who wrote my recommendation letter for medical school and FaceTime my parents. I also did a little grocery shopping and searched for souvenirs. I'm doing price comparisons between different shops to get the best price.

After talking with my parents, who are always the go-getters and can spend all day working outside and still have energy to exercise, I felt motivated to do a little something myself. One of the guys said he'd run with me as well. I'm glad I did it, but I definitely ran a little to close to eating. There is one other thing I noticed during the run. I realized that something that's been making me a bit uncomfortable during my stay here is that I don't feel welcomed in the community. Apparently it's a holiday weekend here, so everyone is out and about partying and drinking. I passed a lot of people on my runs, and 9/10 times they stare at me. I try to wave, but today I would say 0/14 people I waved at, waved back at me. So these people are staring at me, but not in a nice way. Then, 2x when I was out today, people started running beside me, laughing and mocking -- one was even a grown man. It makes me so uncomfortable, especially when they are laughing and talking to me in a language I don't understand. It honestly feels like I'm a zoo animal running through town. I can't be sure, but I'd have to say this is what it feels like to be a minority in a town...and it's not fun. You never feel at home and your guard is constantly up. It's very tiring.

Something else that is also taking some getting used to is the showers here!! It feels like they run the water through blast chiller before it comes out of the spigot! I thought I may have an asthma attack when I first put my body under the spray. The rest of the day was really great though. We had dinner, a housemate made dairy-free banana muffins, and I relaxed with some snacking, sudoku, and a movie (Avatar today!). Third week starts tomorrow ???? Happy Monday everyone!

Posted by kfkeane 11:37 Archived in USA Tagged zoo welcome run animal shower banana cold movie sunday exercise lazy mocking muffin Comments (2)

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