This week I have learned the true wrath of the heat. Sweating profusely every minute of every day gets to me, but having no water is the real problem. It has been out at my house for almost 3 weeks, so I carry containers to the hospital with me to fill up there. Electricity continues to plague my existence, and it has been going out for at least 12 hours at a time every day for the past few days. The uncertainty is maddening; I can’t count on a fridge to store food, nor having the ability to cook it.
Luckily, I had a great weekend away from my village with friends and wildlife. It was the first time I made a journey into the bush for safari, and we saw a lot: giraffes, rhinos, zebras, kudu, springbok, and wildebeest. A bird that looks like Zazu from The Lion King hung out at our campsite, too. I’ll look for some pictures of our adventure and try to post them when I get a chance.
While I was visiting with some of my friends, I got into a conversation about relative success and our levels of activity. It’s hard to describe how busy I am at this point of my service. I’m in a sort of transient phase, still determining how to shape my work – some days I don’t do much, but others are filled with talking to people or planning for activities. I still think that some of my most important jobs are networking and motivating. I’m slowly getting better at recognizing the people on whom I can rely, meanwhile becoming a staple lekgoa (white person) in Rakops.
I’ve said it before, and I hope it’s clearer now that this is a process during which I will most definitely not perform feats of magic on a daily basis. It takes time to accomplish things, and the musings of my blog depict only windows into what I’m thinking and doing. I ask that you take everything I write with that same holistic view, especially when I sound particularly disconcerted.
The struggles we face as volunteers are key to our experiences. The success stories you read here are indicative of a great many undisclosed failures as well. It makes it that much better when I get to tell you about something that went right. I’ve learned a lot about patience (it is tested every day), and that means you’ll have to afford me the confidence that I’m moving in the right direction, regardless of my pace.
I’ve also recently been prompted about the perks of Peace Corps for young professionals – I assume that many older volunteers are not concerned with the glowing line it puts on your résumé, but my friend forced me to think about that aspect of my time here. The rewards for commitment are nice, especially if you want to work for a powerful government agency like the Centers for Disease Control or the State Department (returned volunteers get 2 years non-competitive status for government job applications and a readjustment allowance of a little more than $7,000). I can’t say the rewards alone would sustain me here; the investment is too great for this to be just a job. I have my own goals to keep me focused on why I’m here, and I think most others are here for reasons beyond career advancement.
I’m getting excited about some of my upcoming projects. It looks like my recycling plan may be getting off the ground soon – the trick is showing my support group members the importance of environmental preservation and linking this opportunity to money to sustain us. I’ve also been conspiring with my friend’s school in Chicago; we’re participating in the World Wise Schools correspondence program together. We’re still in the brainstorming stage of our project, but it sounds like her students are interested and ready! I’ve been looking forward to putting something into action with this group for a while. I’ll be sure to keep you all posted!
I had 2 orange Oreos the other day; that’s the extent of my Halloween celebration this year. I hope yours was more festive!