Hello wonderful family and friends,
I really regret that I haven’t been as on top of the blog (or emails, or messages etc) in the last month, but thank you all for being patient with me.
As most of you know, I started volunteering at another charity in the beginning of September. I can honestly say that there are few times in my life that I have worked so hard. I was literally coming home every day exhausted, and started cutting off from a lot of my friends here because I just didn’t have the energy to be social. For those of you who know me well, that is a BIG sign that there is an imbalance in my life.
I did enjoy the work, even though it really took it out of me. On top of what I was doing there, I was still working at Molteno and the Umuzi Photoclub (while trying to stay on top of my work for Mizzou). Combined, I think I was in a little over my head.
I’m not really going to go in to everything that transpired, but as of last week I stopped volunteering with the new charity. When I come back to the states, I promise I will fill you all in on some more details, but for now this isn’t the time or the place.
Please know that I am doing okay and that I welcomed the change and new chapter of my experience here. Thank you all for your messages and words of support-- they mean the world to me.
I have to say that going through this past month without the people that I care about most was probably one of the hardest things I have ever done. People have said to me that I’m so brave to come here and leave my family. For a long time I didn’t see it as bravery—Shelly is brave for getting her second tissue expander, Gladys is brave for taking on a new life when she knew no one and had no money—but me coming to South Africa never really seemed brave. Rather, it was expected.
But after experiencing so much emotional stress, and not being able to talk to the people I love in the moment of need is an ache like I’ve never felt before. Perhaps facing that pain and knowing that you don’t have a choice is one form of bravery... but I guess you can be the judge.
On Thursday I left the house around noon. It was warm out and I walked the familiar way to Seventh Street: down Main—the busiest street in Melville—and then I turned on Fourth Avenue. The Car Gods shouted at me and I smiled and shook my head; I didn’t have any change for them.
As sun beat down on me, all of the events that had happened kept running through my head. The realizations stuck to the pit of my stomach and I felt nauseous thinking about what I was going to do now. I felt that lump crawl from my chest up to my throat.
Almost immediately I thought about my dad who I hadn’t talked to in a couple weeks. The urge to talk to him became almost overwhelming and I wished that it wasn’t 3am in Alaska.
I kept walking to The Loft (where I steal free internet from the place next door), wishing that I had left earlier so he might have been awake.
In the back of my head I thought about the quickest way to tell him what had happened. Seeing as he is a new facebook member, I decided to update my status to say that I had been fired. To my surprise he responded almost immediately. I jumped on Skype and found that he was online despite the obscene hour.
It turns out that he hadn’t been able to sleep and had had a feeling that something was wrong. He checked the computer and saw my status, responded, and stayed on Skype.
It boggles my mind that all the way (literally) on the other side of the world he had some how thought of me just when I needed him the most. This exact thing has happened with my mom and others since I’ve been in SA: My mom and I will miss each other at the same time—once I was in tears – and I later found out that at nearly the exact same moment she was thinking of me as well.
I will think of a friend from home and then check my facebook later in the day to see a message from that exact person, sent at almost the exact same time I was thinking about them.
Now you could say that all of this is coincidence. You could say that it is only natural for us to think of each other because it has been so long since we’ve been together. But so many people have experienced something similar that I can’t help but conclude we have some instinct that transcends time and location. Whatever it is, words can’t express how thankful I am for it.
Moving forward I am going to be planning a backpacking trip soon. I don't know how it is all going to come about or where I'm going to go-- but I know somehow it will.
I've been fortunate enough recently to visit some schools in Limpopo (a province north of Jo'burg by the border of Zim) to see Molteno's new digital literacy program in action: (think old African women who barely speak English, with their hair tied back in cloth, learning how to click a mouse, drag and drop, and put words together in their mother tongue languages all on the computer). There is a video coming soon I promise. And yes, I took photos.
The photography workshop is going really well. I'm continually impressed with how thoughtful, daring, creative (the list goes on) these high schoolers are. They showed us around Hillbrow last weekend, which was definitely something I won't soon forget.
Now that I have more time on my hands I'll make more of an effort to put up multi-media content. Fridays are going to be my Umuzi/school days so I should be on the internet most of the time if you ever want to Skype/ struggle to make facebook chat work.
I love and miss you all, nine weeks to go-- can you believe it?