Scooter’s daycare continues to operate almost every day for the baby and the two siblings who we found chained to the tree and are with us for an interim period. The hostel kitchen is great, but very African in its methods, so more white carbs and fewer vegetables and fruits than I would prefer, so often I cook for them. I try to get as many vegetables and as much protein into them as possible, and of course sometimes we splurge with a little pudding. Some days I have too much work to really give them attention, but they still come in to hang out and play inside our house. The poor kids spend most of the day fairly bored to death until all the other kids come home around 2pm.
A few days ago it was rainy and gross, so after I finished teaching in the morning I went and found the kids camped out in the kitchen. I brought them back to our house where I set up my laptop and projector for them to watch a movie. I cannot describe how ecstatic they were about this. They both kept yelling “TV! TV!” repeatedly and the girl (7 years old) was bouncing up and down on the couch. Her 4 year old little brother, on the other hand, would jump off the couch shrieking and run around, then jump back onto the couch, then jump off shrieking and run around again before returning to the couch. The enthusiasm was adorable and infectious, but after a few minutes my ears began to ring from the shrieking, so I had to plead with him to calm down a little.
This was something that bothered me in Mozambique where they do it too—Swaziland writes their own textbooks for primary and secondary school for all disciplines. A lot of other countries have been producing decent textbooks for learning English as a second language or the basics of Algebra for many years. I certainly understand the appeal of students reading about references to local people or landmarks in their studies, and certainly examples in a textbook from the states might not make sense to students here. But these are two countries that have two of the highest HIV/AIDS rates in the world, and consistently rank toward the bottom of human rights and gender equality indexes. You have bigger fish to fry—let someone else write your textbooks for you.
There was a Swazi woman living in the volunteer house for the past month, she had been brought in on a short-term assignment at the clinic. She works at the hospital in the city where we refer our patients when they have exhausted the local resources. It was interesting hearing her reaction to coming out to us—we are a tiny “village” (that is essentially the primary school, secondary school, clinic, and mission. Not the group of houses and shops that usually comprise a town) way way out in the bush. It’s easy for me to see how bad things are around here, but chalk it up to being “Africa.” But she seemed pretty surprised by just how bush and desolate things are out here. She was surprised by how less-educated people are here about HIV and their attitudes toward seeking real medical help. She was surprised by how poor people are here, how they can literally have nothing on their homesteads. She said there seems to be much more domestic violence out here. And we know that the HIV rates are higher. She worked here for 22 days. During that time, 10 clients of our clinic died, and all 10 were under 35 years old.