Congolese can smile too…
My grandmothers last advice to me was that life is like a roller coaster, you have your highs, your lows. And in the end, judging from this experience, the ride ends where I began.
There wasn’t any waiting in line to catch the ride, it started as soon as I got off the plane from Canada. I had been gone for a month and there was plenty to catch up on, mainly receipts, final site visits, end of service for 12 volunteers, and preparing for the fresh new batch.
The ride didn’t cost anything, I just needed a certain height of 2 years experience. The coaster seat was very warn down, changing from a broken down jeep at night in the bush of Zambia, to a plane that wasn’t meant to carry people over Congo, a truck hitting the surf of Cape Town, a big white van driving down 6 crazy brits in kruger national park in South Africa and also to my dirty feet which taught volleyball to kids near Swaziland.
It climbed to the top, closing deals with unicef, host families and NGO partners, and then came the bungee jump over the Zambezi river. It went for loop de loops with a last minute unplanned trip to Democratic of Congo. That loop cost me a major bribe.
The coaster went down deep through a cave, there were good byes to friends of the past year and half, the not so positive final review by volunteers, and even missing my flight.
It went up high on a plateau of kind, and I realized I had seen this plateau before. It was General orientation, my 3rd . 25 wacky volunteers from around southern africa and ofcourse, Norway. In simonstown, a rich coastal town just outside of Cape town with penguins who wander the nights. I had been here two years ago to the day. The ride continued back to Zambia where I coordinated Specific orientation , my 3rd this time with a partner sitting next to me, Melissa, the new me, the new team leader for SCORE Zambia. She has just started her ride.
The journey is coming to a close, and it looks like where I started. I speak isiXhosa well, which is almost similar to siSwati which they speak here in Schoemansdal just off the Swaziland border. I grew out my beard again, I dance the same as I used to , I see cows wander, roosters wake me and village dogs surround me as I return to rural field life in South Africa, Mpumalanga province. Eating pap, getting sun burnt, teaching volleyball, starring at mountains and laughing with kids. Just like Ntabethemba days. But it is different, a different host family, a different role as I am now being paid to wander the village with 6 University of Birmingham students who I coordinate and my own now changed perspective of community and development.
Another month and I’ll be stepping off the coaster, not sure when the circus will be back in town. In October I am planning on going to Madagascar and then home home home. This may be my 2nd last update on this site. Enjoy les photos.