6/10: It was so wonderful to go back to my org and have people truly miss me while I was gone and know how much I reciprocate their sentiment. I told a handful of people that helped me spearhead the hospice project that I thought it would be best if we moved in a different direction. In a culture of no emotion, the fact that there were tears in the women's eyes was absolutely heartwrenching. The hero's welcome gave me little consolation after the dark cloud of broken promises loomed all day. My positive moment would be the little comfort it was to know for certain that I was doing the right thing and that this too shall pass.
6/11: I put the trauma of the hospice situation aside for the day to celebrate the World Cup opener. Bafana bafana (boys boys in Zulu and the nickname for the South African national team) spirit has hit fever pitch in my village. I went to a fan park to watch the game on the big screen in my shopping town with three people from my organization. I'm currently thawing out my extremities and trying to recover my lost hearing from the vuvuzelas but it was a complete blast. I can't wait for the motherland to beat our old colonial ruler.
6/12: Today I met up with three of my fellow Peace Corps Volunteers to talk about organizing Camp GLOW (Girls Leading our World) which is a girls empowerment sleep away camp. Young girls here are set up for failure because of the grave disservice the educational system does them which only lessens their already few options. As does the idea that girls don't have a voice and can't make decisions about their future/bodies/identity. South Africa has the second highest prevalence of rape under the Congo with child rape being especially common due to the myth that having sex with a virgin can cure you of AIDS. Even though free condoms are everywhere the majority of men refuse to wear them which leaves an extremely high rate of teen pregnancy. But I do feel that there is reason to be hopeful. There are women who are able to find ways to put food on the table without selling their bodies and pass the high school exit exam despite the cards being stacked against them. Since this is the only life these girls know it's impossible for them to imagine their life any other way. You don't know what you don't know. I hope to give them another option. I've asked young girls here what they want to be when they grow up and they look at me like I have three heads. I'm such a dreamer; it breaks my heart that girls here have never been given the chance to dream.
6/14: My heart has also never recovered from the heartbreak of the reality of the hospice situation. Instead of processing through that loss, and it was a loss, it was a loss of expectations, of direction and of course a loss of a promise I made to my community. Instead of doing that, I pushed through for six days stuffing my days to the brim in an effort to pretend this never happened, to numb my disappointment, until I hit my breaking point today. These past few days can be summed up by a series of bad decisions, bad luck and bad behavior on my part.
I took five taxis the other day because it didn't cross my mind to ask a taxi driver if what I thought was the fastest way to get somewhere was indeed the fastest way. I then proceeded to leave my wallet on that taxi which I realized when I was in the back corner of yet another taxi and didn't have money to pay for it. I then made half the taxi, including half a dozen overstuffed bags stacked to the ceiling, get out so I could climb over the rest of the stuff/people to find my wallet. Naturally, I immediately turned into quite the spectacle as I start crying and peering into random taxis in an attempt to find my elusive wallet. The young men that were cat calling and whistling at me just minutes before quickly turned quite scared of me. Just as I was ready to give up my search, however, I found it. Unfortunately, that is just one of many such stories, other examples include leaving my precious glasses at a friend's house (who lives five taxis away) leaving my debit card at the copy place (luckily I got that back today as well) spending three hours cooking a vegetarian chilli worthy of a magazine cover only to put such an absurd amount of chilli powder in it that no amount of water, vinegar or cheese could make it edible once more. I turned down a taxi that had one seat left just calling my name, for no legitimate reason, and of course came back to a near empty taxi going to an out of the way town (the taxi I took a pass on was the only one that left that day) where I went on to wait 45 minutes for it to fill up.
The clencher, I'm ashamed to admit, came today when I waited an hour and a half at the post office to receive a package. This poor woman first told me that somebody had already picked it up and after a few comments to show my concern that that might be the case she went on a vain search to find said package. As the minutes pass with things like buying cheese to make the chilli possible to eat and trying to find my debit card looming, I started to panic when I realized how soon all of the stores would close. To preface this, I got another package slip on Friday and counted down the minutes until I could get my package on Saturday which I knew would be stuffed with all sorts of Americana only to find a Peace Corps mailing in its place. Seeing as though I expected this package almost six weeks ago and I had recently completely lost my mind, it should have been no surprise that at the hour and a half mark I started crying. Yep, I was crying in the post office, in front of line long enough to put a winding queue at Six Flags to shame. When the post office lady came back to say that after checking and re checking the package room it seems as though it has just disappeared...I went a little crazy. I'm crying, of course, which is crazy enough as it is, and I now am flailing my arms, and yelling, going on about having medicine sent from America that I need, I really need it, how can I trust the postal system in this country if packages seem to just disappear and what does she suggest I do if my health is now in jeopardy because of someone's carelessness?! I somehow had enough foresight to leave out the fact that I was referencing a multi vitamin. To make matters worse, the now frightened postal employee scuries off for one last attempt to find this hidden package which I paint as basically having State secrets, keys to many kingdoms and filled with gold...and finds it. I leave quietly with my head hung in shame. It took me making a complete and total fool out of myself for a few bags of m&ms and a People magazine...and yes life-altering multi vitamins, to realize I need a day off...or two.