Monday, January 25, 2010

Lightening DOES strike the same place twice

So I always thought that the worst part about getting caught in the rain here was elastic waistbands. You know, when it's pouring rain and your skirt, which is invariably a cotton-blend, gets heavily water-logged and heavy and begins to slide down to the point of indecency because all the weight is just too much for the elastic waistband. Sunday afternoon, returning from a visit to another volunteer's place, I was juggling my computer, groceries (18 eggs and a loaf of bread, which got soggy) and a big bag full of brand new school uniforms, AND trying to keep my clothes from washing away. And then I tripped over a rock, rolled my left ankle, and ended up stumbling to the side of the muddy road. Why? Not because I'm clumsy (well, maybe that's part of it), but because of a faulty shoe. That's right, my lifetime guaranteed, super heavy-duty Chaco flip-flops came apart (the straps came out of the sole) and I then had to walk the rest of the 2 kilometers home half-barefooted. On a gravel road. In the rain.

But wait, there's more...

So I get home to my flooded little hovel to find, unsurprisingly, that the electricity is off. Fine, I think, I'll read a book until it comes back on. I opened the windows to air out the dank, molding smell that inevitably develops any time I'm gone for more than a few hours, and settled in to read "Blink" by Malcom Gladwell (really interesting book!). An hour or so later, I heard the distinct sounds of WWE wrestling coming from the main house's TV, so I got up to plug in my computer and get started on my "To do" list for the week...when I realized that there had been a fire. Apparently, there was an electricity surge or lightening or SOMETHING that shot out of my surge protector (which obviously does nothing to protect from surges), melted the surge protector's plug that went into the outlet. Everything was charred and, since it had been sitting on the top of some cheap, plastic shelves, the shelf was melted a little. And it burned up about 60 teabags in a box of 100 that was sitting near it. And, surprisingly, nothing else. Luckily, I had unplugged everything from the surge protector before I left, just in case, and there wasn't anything TOO flammable (though I would have thought tea bags were pretty flammable...) sitting near it, and the fire put itself out. In a way, I'm glad I wasn't there becuase I definitely would have been scared out of my mind (I'm afraid of fire anyway...).

So, long story short, I don't have electricity anymore. I went to the Swaziland Electricity Board today (all utilities are government-owned) to see if they could/would fix it, but they charge E200 for the FORMS to fill out to request a quotation be made to have someone come out and appraise the damage, then you have to pay for the appraisal, then the transport of the appraiser and the repair person, then the repair person. And all the materials required to fix it. Not worth it right now.

In other news, school FINALLY starts tomorrow, so I've been trying to get together all the things the kids need for back to school. Thanks to a donation from my grandparents, I was able to buy all of them the essentials they need for their school uniforms (every school in Swaziland requires uniforms), and I'm in town today exchanging things that didn't fit or weren't right. I bought them all pencil packs and erasers and other basics, and then at least one piece of uniform for each of them--replacing the oldest thing(s) or things that didn't fit anymore. And I realized's expensive to be a girl! The boys uniform for the high school is gray pants and a gray long-sleeved button-down shirt--a total cost of E110. With shoes, E180. The uniform for the girls involves skirts of 2 different colors, dresses of 2 different colors, shirts of 2 different colors, a polo shirt with the school logo, sweatpants for gym class, 2 colors of v-neck sweaters, a belt with the school logo that HAS to be purchased from the school, and 2 different colors of jackets, PLUS shoes. And it's not like a girl can just buy the one dress and wear it every day because there's an assigned uniform for each day of the week.

Why? I asked one of the teachers, and he told me that it's because girls smell and if they give them the same uniform for every day of the week, they wear it all week and never wash it. So they give them a different uniform for every day so they don't smell. OR (this is my thought) it's a way to systematically keep girls out of school. But that's just my opinion...

Anyway, things here are going really well. I've been keeping busy these past couple of weeks, but now that I can't sit in front of my computer for hours at a time (no electricity, remember?), it seems like I'll have a little more free time this coming week.

Tommorrow, I'll be meeting with the head nurse at my local clinic to talk about the progress of my partnership project. I'm still raising money, if you haven't donated yet! So far, I have $1000 of my $8591.69 goal, so I've still got a long way to go! But I'm making progress. The project is to build a community garden and dig a borehole to provide improved nutrition and water access to the families in my community, particularly those involved in the HIV-positive support group. It's a great project, and you can donate at, or to learn more you can visit Thanks to EVERYONE to has helped to promote the project or who has donated money. Unfortunately, I don't get the names of everyone who's donated (until later, maybe...I'm trying to figure this out), so I can't thank you individually, but you know who you are and I really appreciate it!

That's all for today. I'll be back Thursday, hopefully with no more stories of mishaps involving shoes or fizzy water or falling down.

Love from the Swaz!

Kwanele is getting pretty good at taking photos. About 200 a day. Digital cameras are so much fun.

Me making jewelry. I'm making my concentration face. See the ones I have on? They're my faves. Someday I'll post a close-up picture of them.

January 14 was "dress up your pet" day, so I tried to celebrate. Eliza was not a big fan of the holiday...this is the only picture where she's getting READY to bite me, not actually biting me. I also put a shoe on her, which was hilarious. Kwanele and I were absolutely ROLLING with laughter when she tried to run away. We never got the shoe back (but its mate was long gone already, so it was no big loss).

The kids and I spent an afternoon trying to make balloon animals with a kit Brittney sent, but we failed. We ended up making a wide variety of balloon boats, which we played with in my bathtub. (Bathtub=small basin full of water)

One of the neighbor boys (I should know his name by now, but I don't), Londiwe and Kwanele hanging out in my house. Londi has been learning how to use the little XO computer that I brought, and I think it's really helping her with her typing skills.

1 comment:

Mindy said...

Wow! Holy Moly! Be safe, girl. And keep up the GREAT work.