“But what do you do?” (with pics!)
“So, your blog is great, but, what do you do?” <- Thanks, Mom. But as it turns out, you’re not the only one who has this question, so here we go.
My days look like this:
7 a.m.: Wake up (most often I’m feelin’ like P. Diddy)
I make breakfast, sweep (the floors get dirty fast), and sometimes I bathe, sometimes I wash dishes…
9 a.m.: Arrive at work. I spend my mornings working on my CNA (if you don’t know what that is, click here). This either involves typing things up on my computer or going out into the village doing research, interviewing people, conducting surveys, etc.
1 – 2 p.m.: The kiddos arrive (in droves). The center I work at serves about 60 kids ages 5-15. They want my full and undivided attention immediately, which is hard considering we don’t always speak the same language. I usually rely on the older kids to help translate for the younger bunch. The boys love to play soccer, while the girls enjoy coloring and hand-clapping games.
[Once my integration period ends, and I’m done with my CNA, I’m hoping to make their afternoons more structured and learning-based, i.e. intellectual games.]
4 – 5 p.m.: The kids go home, so that’s when I get off work.
After work, I like to interact in the community – whether that’s going for a walk, taking pictures, jogging or going to the local tuck shop to buy a bag of chips. People always say “HI!” to me and it’s a great way to meet people and INTEGRATE into my village.
6 p.m.: I have to be home by dark, not because there is a rule or anything, just for safety reasons (I once saw a cobra outside my house – I would rather see that in the daylight…) Nowadays, since we are coming up on winter, it gets dark around 6 p.m. Once I’m home, I watch Friends on my computer, bathe, cook dinner, read or whatever.
The kids are ALWAYS muggin’ for the camera…
I try to go to my shopping town every other Saturday. A shopping trip is an all-day endeavor; I usually leave my house around 7am and get home just before dark. It takes an hour and a half alone just to travel to Bela-Bela and even longer to get home since the taxis leaving Bela-Bela are a hot commodity.
If I’m not going into my shopping town, I’m probably doing laundry (two week’s worth of laundry takes a couple hours to do by hand – after I soak it overnight). I also like to visit my fellow PCVs. I have a friend who lives half an hour away via taxi, and two friends an hour and a half in the opposite direction. I also made friends with a man in my village who has a 6-month-old puppy. I’m allowed to let myself into his yard whenever I want and play with the pup! Oh, and I’ve spent the last couple of weekends painting my house and getting it ready for a ROOM TOUR!
If you’re wondering how I have access to Internet and Whatsapp… For R60/month, I get unlimited Internet on my Blackberry. This includes a web browser, Facebook, and Twitter (but does not include YouTube or Instagram). If I want more advanced Internet than my Blackberry provides, I have to turn my BB into a hotspot. 2G of data via a hotspot costs R249 (and I can go through 2 gigs pretty fast – so I try to use this sparingly).
Once my integration period ends in July and my CNA is done, that’s when my real work as a PCV begins. At that point, I begin implementing programs that I see fit based on the results of my CNA. This includes boys’ and girls’ groups (ZAZI, Brother’s For Life, and Grassroots Soccer are some examples. They are stand-alone organizations that have a great relationship with Peace Corps and PCVs love to implement their programs). I’ve also been invited to start teaching English and Life Orientation at the local primary school. Life Orientation is a class that is taught in every grade in the South Africa public school system; imagine an American health class, but way more in-depth. I also want to start a running club, seeing as whenever I go for a run, the children always run alongside me; resume workshops for the youth in my village (youth is 18-35 here in SA, btw); University visits for secondary school kids; gardening as an income-generating activity, etc.
Lastly, I’d like to clarify one thing: Yes, I am a Peace Corps Volunteer, but I work for the Mmametlhake Family Care Centre. Despite some misconceptions, Peace Corps doesn’t have an office in every village in which PCVs are placed. Each volunteer is assigned to an organization in a village that does HIV/AIDS related work. These include home-based care centers, drop-in centres, orphanages, etc.
Alrighty, now you can look at your watch at any time during the day and think to yourself, “I know what Morgan is doing at this exact moment!” How great is that?!