South Africa

A Week in the Life

Lost & Found

It’s been an interesting week so far. Along with developments at Rape Crisis and stimulating conversations with family members here, I’ve also been writing a ton. This trip for me is part of my scholastic endeavors and I plan to write my Honors Thesis on my experience. I’m not 100% certain on what yet, but my thoughts seem to be culminating around women’s rights.

So I’ve been spending all this time recording thoughts, observations, and conversations that I think will not only jog my memory but will help shape a stronger thesis project, it will add depth and character to the writing. With this in mind, yesterday I lost my journal. I looked all over and traced my steps. Not at home, not at work, not in a bag somewhere, just simply vanished. The thought of someone reading through it made me never want to write again. I felt like my soul was exposed to all who wanted to see it in it’s bare-naked reality.

In my search, I remembered I’d spent time in my favorite internet cafe yesterday. Running back with my heart pounding through my chest, I found it sitting next to the computer I’d been using. Literally in the same exact place somehow, just waiting for me to take it home. This happens to me sometimes when I’m focused on something. It’s like my brain narrows in like a laser beam and all the other details of my life just get blurred around the corners and left behind. When I’m like this, I lose things, forget appointments, double-book myself, complete the wrong assignments, and the like. Clearly my brain is elsewhere right now. I’m getting excited to see everyone at home and sleep in my own bed and that thought is competing with another strong piece of anxiety; I’m realizing now that I likely won’t get to finish the things I’ve wanted to complete or even have all my questions answered before I leave here. It’s crazy to have thought I could, really.

Thank goodness I’ve written down these things, and I now have the book which holds those thoughts. In that, I feel secure.

Home Life

Last night Nontsassa, Laurel, and I sat bundled under the covers of our bed chatting. Three girls sharing stories and telling silly jokes. Nontsassa made a comment, small in the moment, but left a hole.  She said:

“I was thinking today about how quiet it is going to be when you guys leave. I’m going to come home to silence instead of lots of people and loud banter.”

Just a small observation, devoid of strong emotion, just reality and entirely accurate. We will be gone, no longer will we walk into this cozy home and should “Molo!” and work on a few more words in Xhosa, asking questions about things we saw that day and filling Nontsasa in on the latest gossip from the group. It was a sobering moment that settled deep in my chest. There was no avoiding the moment I had to leave.

So the rest of the night we just sat and giggled, picked apart the Cosmo magazine, which apparenlty Laurel reads backwards, and just enjoyed the time we do have together. I realize I am learning to just enjoy time, to not constantly feel the burden of quiet space. I’m accepting what used to be awkward moments, and I’m hoping this will carry over when I get home. That,  and I’m beginning to harbor an interest in international politics. I’ve always had an interest in public policy in a way, but never likes political science all that much. I see now just how interconnected our worlds are and how much damage (or goodness) leadership can cause. I can’t tell now what is happening in the world. It’s like I’ve flipped my perspectives on their heads and now through reevaluation things look different. Are things in the world getting better or worse? Now I don’t know.

Hopefully I’ll get an entry about my weekend in Camps Bay before I leave here, it really was breathtaking. We’re able to get out of the city every other weekend or so. It’s not the easiest to coordinate, an not everyone goes, but it’s been fun to see different aspects of this country. And they are very different. Strikingly different driving across this country even 30 minutes along the road, the world shifts, it’s unlike anything I’ve seen until now.

I’m currently still on the hunt to locate an internet cafe that isn’t too slow to upload my pictures, I’ve got some really great ones. I’d love for you all to see the different pieces of my time spent here. There’s so much to take in and it really forces my creative talents to get it all down. I’m looking forward to getting home and writing something more cogently representative of what is happening here.  For now, I have much work to do on the database at Rape Crisis. It is so nice to know I am needed here, however, due to the nature of my work I wish there wasn’t so much data available.

From this experience I know my strengths and areas I should avoid highlighting in a career. I have seen the talent of the counselors who work here and I now know I do not possess the patience or ability to help women the way they can. I will not pursue a life in counseling.  Mediation is similar, but not quite as trying I don’t think.

A woman at my work, named Tessa calls what they do, “empowerment counseling.” She says she helps people find the skills to deal with severe crisis as they would any other crisis. She notes most women feel a great sense of healing once they recognize the tools available to them to cope in their own ways. What an incredible observation and talented counselor.

In a few weeks I will return home, soon I will step off that airplane and come home to Phoenix. Though ready for my stifling dry heat, I’m not ready to leave this place just yet.


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