Friday, July 28, 2006

We're Home!

We decided to call it quits for the Peace Corps. It was becoming very stressful on our relationship and we just thought that it would be best if we came home. Mbali left on the 26th and Musa left on the 28th.

It was so sad saying goodbye to our family. Everything happened so fast that we left things unfinished in many areas. Mbali is already missing Swaziland.

We can't wait to see everyone. We missed you all so much. Hope everyone is doing well.

Mbali's new cell phone number is 303-854-7798.

Musa & Mbali

Monday, July 03, 2006

One Year To Go

Sorry it has been awhile since we last wrote. Everything is going well for the most part. We are definately missing family and friends and the luxuries of home very much. If we stay the rest of the time, we should be home one year from today. We'll see how everything goes.

It's been extremely cold here, especially when the sun is down. We sleep in 3 pairs of pants, 3 shirts with a jacket, gloves and a hat. It's ridiculous. Having a tin roof and cement walls doesn't provide much warmth.

We just got a sad email from Mbali's mom today. Eryn (Mbali's sister) is in the hospital and has been there since June 24th. Mbali might be going home for a little bit, we don't know for sure at this point. We'll keep everyone posted.

Beauty had her puppies on June 17th. There were nine, but one of them died. They are definately a handful. They are just now starting to open their eyes. Poor Beauty is soooo skinny. The puppies are working on her. We should have no problems finding homes for them. Right now they sleep in our tent with two sleeping bags and a blanket.

We plan on going to Maputo, Mozambique this weekend. We haven't been there yet and we are really looking forward to it. Definately looking forward to the fresh seafood.

We are working on getting a Neighborhood Care Point set up right now. It's a place where the orphans can come and get one meal a day. The community hired somone to finish building the kaGogo. Hopefully everything goes according to plan.

We received some volleyballs from the volleyball team at UCCS. We are very grateful to Coach Jessica Wood and the Athletic Department. Our volleyball team is so happy now. They are thrilled that everyone can be doing something at once. It's great!!!

That's about all the new news. We miss everyone greatly and hope you are all doing well. Keep in touch!!! We will do better about updating the blog. We are working on putting more pictures on also. Check them out when you get a chance.

We love you and miss you!!!

Mbali and Musa

Thursday, May 04, 2006

11 Months In

Hello everyone. It's been awhile since we last wrote. Apparently we've been busy. Things are going well for us. It's hard to believe that we have been here for almost a year already. Looking back it seems that the time has flew by, but looking forward, it still seems like a long time. We'll get through it okay though.

We had some good news today. We wrote to UCCS and they are going to donate 3 computers to our community, and Coach Wood (volleyball) is donating our volleyball team some more balls. We are extremely thankful for this wonderful gift.

We are in between terms right now for school so things are a bit slow, but school is starting again on Tuesday. We will be busy once again.

Mbali has been keeping busy with Peer Support Network stuff. The new volunteers are arriving on June 9 and Mbali will be busy helping with different sessions and answering all of the new trainees questions. She is having a wonderful time with it all.

We have been playing volleyball a lot. We are practicing with a guy who is on the Swaziland National Team (20 and under) and he is very good. It's nice to have him help because he can explain things to the boys in siSwati so they can understand him better. Mbali has enjoyed playing again, although her knees are a big problem. Musa is becoming quite the volleyball player himself.

Beauty is pregnant. We should have puppies around July. How exciting!

We are planning on taking a trip to Mozambique in August to celebrate our one year of service. We are very excited for that.

Nothing much else is going on here. We're just trying to keep busy. Sometimes we feel like we aren't needed here, but for the most part, we feel that we are doing something. No matter how small it is.

We miss you all very much and hope that everyone is doing well. We'll be in touch and you keep in touch!!

Love always,
Mbali and Musa

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Back in the Swing of Things

Hello Everyone!

Well, we are doing much better than we were when we first got back from our trip. We are back in the groove and everything is going well. When NATICC came to do VCT, we had 25 people test. We were thrilled!! That is the most we have had so far. Mbali started a girls mentoring program with five girls from our school. Hopefully that will go well. We recently found out that there are going to be two married couples in the new group, Everything is going well!!!

The following is a letter from a Peace Corps Volunteer in Zambia. We thought it was absolutely hilarious because we can relate to all of it...except for the termites and caterpillars. Hope you enjoy it.

Mass Email to Friends and Family:
Coming to America
by Kevin Brendle
Zambia, PCV

If I am dirty and smelly, it might be due to the fact that I live in an African village and that I am used to the dirt and my smell.

If we agree to meet somewhere at 10am and I don't show up until 10:45am, please don't get pissed, I'm just on African time.

If you catch me picking my nose, don't be alarmed because part of the reason you will constantly see my finger in my nose is that it is dry and dusty here, but another reason is because it is TOTALLY acceptable and EVERYONE does it, THUS I'm addicted. Whether you are eating lunch with a friend or talking with a high ranking government official, you are totally free to pick your nose. Kindly hand me a tissue and forgive my dirty little habit.

If we agree to meet somewhere in public, please inquire as to how I am going to arrive there. I might forget that people in the USA are reluctant to pick up a 6'5'' hitchhiking white guy on the side of the road. (Where as here, people are happy to pick me up and take me 600 miles with them as long as they are going in that direction.) Anyway, it might delay my arrival and thus our plans.

If we are sharing an appetizer and a cockroach crawls out from underneath one of our potato skins, remind me that we shouldn't continue eating.

If you are wearing a question mark on your face at this one, just consider the fact that I eat termites and caterpillars here.

If, while in NYC you hear me say that I would rather walk the 40 city blocks than to purchase a subway ticket, that is because I make $5.60 a day here and $2.00 is a large percentage of that. I'll just meet you downtown, so give me an extra 15 minutes.

If you know I am going to be spending the night in your bed (wink), or your guest bed, make sure that you put on your worst set of sheets.

If there is a small child in my presence, please remind me that "Western Culture" kids don't find the threat of physical harm to be humorous. Kids in my village like it when I act like I'm going to chase them down and beat them.

If we are in a grocery store and I start trying to bargain with the check-out lady, kindly kick me in the shins and tell me to go wait by the car.

See you soon!!

Hope you enjoyed that as much as we did. Probably not though. Check out our pictures. We have uploaded some more from Heather's trip. We are almost done with them.

We love you and miss you all very much.

Keep in touch!!

Musa and Mbali

Thursday, March 09, 2006

We're Back

Well, Heather is long gone now. We just got back to Gege yesterday. It was very hard coming back. We feel that we aren't needed. Hopefully that will change. We are going to make it to a year and then reevaluate what we are doing to see if we want to put in a whole new year. We'll see. Seeing Heather definately made us miss our family a lot.

We had a wonderful time when Heather was here. The first thing we did was go to a Traditional Swazi Cultural Village. It was great and very educational. We found out things that we didn't even know about. We got to see some traditional dancing and learned about the traditional homesteads about 100 years ago. Heather really enjoyed that. Next to the cultural village there were some waterfalls called Mantenga Falls. They were beautiful.

We were trying to figure out what to do that night, so we decided on a caving trip. That was absolutely amazing! It was the three of us and a guide. We hiked for about an hour up a mountain and we were in the cave for about an hour and a half. There were many times that we didn't think we could fit through the little crevaces, but somehow, we made it. Heather and Mbali almost freaked out a couple times, but they got through it. At one point, we had to crawl on our bellies threw about a foot of water. It was freezing!! It was a great experience though and we are so glad that we did it. Afterwards, we went to some hot springs and soaked. We also got some free pizza in the deal.

The next day we travelled to Hlane Game Park. Heather was a little worried at first because we didn't have electricty, but then she realized that it was kind of nice. It was unbearably hot here. There was a watering hole right next to where we were staying. Within an hour of arriving, a rhino came to the watering hole. It was so cool to see it. We went on a sunset drive and a sunrise drive. On the sunset drive, 10 minutes in, we came upon 5 lionesses, 2 cubs and a male. It was amazing. We were so close to them. On that drive we also saw an elephant. When we approached the elephant, he was standing in the road where we needed to pass. Our guide decided to pull up closer in the hopes that the elephant would move out of the way. We must have made the elephant mad because he stomped his foot, turned around, and we were head on with him. He came up to the open land rover and our guide ducked behind the steering wheel. He told us: "please don't make a sound". The elephant was an inch away from us and stood there for about one full minute. Finally, he decided we weren't very interesting and went on his way. We all let out a deep sigh of relief. We thought that we was going to rub up against the land rover, and if he did that, we would have tipped right over. What a high.

We also saw a cheetah, lots of impala, a herd of wildebeast, wart hogs, a hippo, turtles, more rhinos, an ostrich, and a huge spider. It was an amazing trip. We also ate impala one evening. None of us really cared for it.

After Hlane, it was off to Gege. Heather seemed to be blown away by it. She met our counterpart Jabulani and really liked him. We divied up all of the clothes that she brought with her (thanks to Phyllis), and we gave them away to our family. Our family was extremely excited to meet her. We gave Heather the Swazi name of Tholakele (which means, "we found her"). We had a very nice dinner with our family.

On Monday, we took Heather to the high school to introduce her to our class. Sadly, our class acted very rude and we were very disappointed in them. We think that Heather got a good understanding of the educational system in Swaziland. It's not a good one. For lunch we went to the Mukasa's. They were very happy. They even gave Heather some traditional African fabric so that she can make an outfit for herself. It was beautiful.

Now on to Cape Town. What can we say? It is a beautiful city. We were blown away by it. We did a city sight seeing tour on a double decker bus and got to see the whole city. That was great. We went on a day long tour that included a wine and cheese tasting and a trip to the Cape Peninsula. Cape Point was absolutely amazing. Wine country was beautiful too. We were supposed to go shark cage diving, but sadly it got cancelled twice because of the weather. A bit too windy. Oh well, we will just have to go back and do it.

We were very sad to see Heather go. We all cried. We wanted to get on the plane with her and come home. We had a very good trip and we are so happy that she came. It was a trip that we will never forget.

We do love being in Swaziland, it is just tough. We have five classes at the high school, but all the kids worry about is how much money we make. Most of the students know everything about HIV/AIDS, but trying to change their behavior is almost impossible. NATICC is coming on the 14th to do VCT again. Hopefully some people will show up to get tested.

The new group of volunteers is coming on June 9. Mbali will be busy with training for the Peer Support Network and is looking forward to that. We are also going to try and host a trainee (or a couple) for site visits.

We have uploaded some photos of Heather's trip. We'll get more uploaded soon. We love you and miss you all very much. Thank you so much to all of you who have supported us. We really appreciate it. We're going through some rough times, but we'll get through it. We just need to get back into the swing of things.

Keep in touch!!

Musa and Mbali

Thursday, February 02, 2006

6 Months In

Hello Everyone!!

Sorry it has taken so long for us to write. There hasn't been much going on, yet a lot going on. Today marks our 6-months of service. We are a 1/4 of the way done. For the most part, time has flown by. In two weeks, Heather will be here. We are extremely excited about that. We have even decided to spend some time in Cape Town. It will be quite the adventure.

School started on January 24. As of right now, we have 3 classes, once a week. We might be getting more though. We are going to start a pen-pal type thing with our students, to students in America. If you or anyone you know would be interested in participating, please let us know.

Our new garden is great!! We have been eating the spinach and lettuce, and the cabbage is about to be ready. It all tastes so great!!!

Mbali has started making hemp necklaces and bracelets to sell for the youth group in Gege. Today is the first day of selling. We'll see how it goes.

Beauty is doing well. She is so damn funny. She loves to play. She's got one of the best characters in dogs (especially in Swaziland).

Overall, things are going very well for us. Mbali has lost 18 lbs since being here; and of course, Musa continues to lose weight when he doesn't need to. We both have long hair (not just on our heads!) Mbali has also learned how to cook. Martha Stuart, watch out! The community really seems to enjoy having us there. We are trying to get a kaGogo house finished (an informal place where orphans can come and get food every day, as well as informal schooling). Hopefully that will be coming along shortly. There are around 900 orphans in Gege. We've got our hands full.

Gege is very beautiful this time of year. All of the maize is coming up and everything is very green. It's gorgeous.

Tomorrow, some friends of ours in our group are coming to visit us. There is a geo-cache box located somewhere near Gege. We are going on an adventure tomorrow to find it. We're sure it will be great!

We think that we are going to go to Piet Retief, SA to watch the SuperBowl. We still haven't made concrete plans, but we really want to. We were bummed to hear that the Broncos didn't make it, but hey, football is football. We haven't gotten to watch any. It will be on at 1:00 a.m. our time.

Okay, enough rambling. We love you and miss you all very much. Thank you for all the support!!! We couldn't do this without you!

Keep in touch!!

Mbali na Musa

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Getting Ready for the Holidays

Happy Holidays everyone! We can't believe that Christmas, otherwise known as Present Day, is on Saturday. Almost everyday, it is in the 80s and 90s. It definately doesn't feel like Christmas. We kind of miss the snow!

Everything in Swaziland just shuts down during the holidays. Things have really slowed down. We both have really bad colds right now, so we have just been relaxing and taking it easy. We went to Mbabane this weekend because Alan Brody, head of UNICEF, threw us (the volunteers) a party for the holidays. It was absolutely wonderful. Great food, and great company.

There is really no news to report. We are missing home right now, but we are really looking forward to Heather's visit. Everything is planned. Mbali's aunt is also coming to visit in June or July. Very exciting!

Beauty is doing well. She's big now. We have adopted another puppy also. His name is Fred. He is only 2 months old. He was the runt of the litter so he is really tiny. He's cute though. He's not as spoiled as Beauty is...he has to sleep outside. He has a bed though. We'll see how it goes with two dogs.

We plan on spending Christmas with our family here. The indvuna (chief's assistant) throws a huge party every year for Christmas and New Year's. We plan on attending those also. It should be a good time.

We hope everyone has a wonderful holiday. We miss you and think about you all the time.

(Just a little side note: the girl that is sitting next to us on the computer just found out she got accepted to John's Hopkins University. She is crying she is so happy!)

We love you all. Take care of yourselves. Sorry there has been no new pictures lately. Our camera is broken for the time being. We are working on getting it fixed.

Love always,
Mbali na Musa