My big project, Finishing the Ward 4 AMICAALL/Nhlangano Town Council Social Center, the PCPP


Peace Corps Partnership Proposal (PCPP) with the Nhlangano Town Council (NTC)

First application draft submitted Feb, 2011
Approved & Funding Begins on PC website May 17th
Construction started on Oct 24th.
All exterior construction done by Dec 20th.
Grand Opening Jan 5th, 2012
Round 2 of the Funding arrives in early January.
Interior Only Construction Restarts Jan 16th.
Construction all done Feb 16th (minus a million tiny To Do's)
Project Officially Closed May 4th, 2012

Let the children play, learn & be safe.

As of Aug 25th, 2012, I am no longer a PCV, I am now RPCV (Return Peace Corps Volunteer). This blog is my experience in Swaziland between June of 2010 & Aug of 2012. Enjoy.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Final Night at my Site.

Well,  2 years is up all of my stuff has been sold, trashed or given away as I type this it is 12:30 at night, since I have spent nearly every night for the last year up at this hour, it is not surprise I can’t go to sleep.
The irony of this evening is that my DSL internet that has made my place such a great place to live was down all day and still this evening.  I suspect even though they say I have it for the full month, they shut down my service early.

Anyway, I suppose it gives me time to reflect.  I am generally not very good at this nor do I do it often. 
I am very excited to be moving on the timing is just right, my travel plans are exciting and rather quick compared to most post PCV’s.  But life is already calling back in LA & America.  Things have already begun to line up a room in house in the Valley has opened up for me & its looking like a job on the Obama campaign is pretty closed to locked.

Even the next week before I even leave Swaziland will be interesting but those are all blogs for the future.
So what do I think of my stay in Nhlangano.

First, God has blessed me with some amazing timing throughout my entire service.  So many times I think of how often nearly at the same time things happened often double goods but more often a negative with a positive.  The biggest example of this is the week before my birthday.  On the same day I turned in my resignation as the coach of the Black Terrors the Ward 4 Social Centers funding was completed.  And to quote Dennis my counterpart who is the reason behind all of the excellent projects said “We don’t need to be dealing with soccer we have bigger projects to work on.” And so on that day my first year of service came to an end and the second year started.  

Most people here have said that the 2 years went by quick both Swazi’s & PCV’s but I disagree for me it has been a long time ago since I arrived in June of 2010 (and here in August of 2010, on my birthday).  I am not sure why it seems so long but I think the two radically different years is the reason.  My first year was dominated by coaching the Black Terrors 3 or 4 practices every week with a game every weekend for 9 months.  My adjustment to living here and for the first time in my life I had a day job of 8 to 4 & regular steady paycheck that came the same time every month.  I reported to the same office for two years but that first year was for 5 days a week, leave at 3pm, start coaching at 5pm til the sunset.   Go home in the evening read, internet, whatever til about 2am then repeat.  In this time, I learned how to cook, not quite to point of enjoying it but confident that I can make something good.  The memory I have the most of coaching is the first Black Terrors win, (see this post).  The amazing timing or whatever was that Titi scored the winning goal against Sabelo.  Both those guys would be huge in final year of my service but in November of 2010 when the game happen, they were both new to me & vice versa but my coaching abilities where very evident and they respected them, so that helped and they in turn were very loyal, hard working and generally on time guys.  I think both these aspects stayed consistent through the two years between us .  It didn’t matter if I was coaching them about soccer, running an HIV/AIDS project, building a Social Center or just giving them advice on a huge range of topics.

So the second year rolled around, which was dominated by the Ward 4 Social Center construction, this is something I will be proud of my entire life.  I have lived a very exciting life doing lots of things others want to, of course by doing them wife & kids & such haven’t worked into those plans, but I have now left a  much more tangible other then my name in credits of movies for as long as history keeps tracks of movies, project.  This Social Center will have an effect on a minimum of 30 to 40 pre-school students a year for at least 20 years or more.  Plus, all of the HIV/AIDS patients that are supported through the Center.  It was 5 months from start of work to completion. And then I proceeded to get work done on 2 more Social Centers.  So by the end three Centers looked much better with art on their walls and some physical improvements or constructions.  What I got out this 2nd year was that I can manage just about anything since a $12,000 (E90,000) project is big deal and I pulled it nearly on budget even if it was over it’s original schedule. 
Well, everything has been sold or given away.  I worked a good deal for Sabelo giving him 25% of whatever I sold.  Titi got the same deal when we had are dirt street (ie in America garage) sale.  Where I put out everything odd & all kitchen type stuff and it all sold. So what is left that I am bringing back to America.  Mostly clothing and art.  The art is packaged and will be shipped home.  The backpack & roller suitcase are filled with the clothing I brought plus a few more.  Sense I am rolling straight back into a campaign job, don’t have time to buy new clothing nor do I want to spend my money on it. I arrived with a big backpack, roller suitcase, additional carry on bag and a regular backpack all stuffed.  I head home with the additional carryon bag packed in the big backpack which is stuffed the roller suitcase is not even completely full and the regular backpack is mostly laptop & odd items.

And so my life moves on Nhlangano has been great, the Swazi’s are wonderful friendly people that are on the edge of moving from the old to the new modern world.  It was interesting being here during some protest filled times but just recently the King called the country together so he could directly hear the complaints of the citizens.  Instead of hearing it from his advisors which are routinely questioned about their motivation by both the public & the press, so maybe Swaziland has now taken a turn in new direction.
We will have to see but in reality I probably won’t everyone has asked if I will be coming back my answer has ranged from years to never.  If ever I travel to Southern Africa I would most definitely come back here to visit.  But since I have a choice of where I will travel, here  is unlikely to be one of them, and I almost bet big money when I return the Social Centers I worked so hard on will not be kept up like they should and that would/will just be heartbreaking.  But this country just doesn’t have the resources or ability or personal qualifications or motivations to really take care of things like they should.  Plus, the dirt roads everywhere don’t help.

So in conclusion, what will I miss the people & friends, the relaxed life, the stability and the ability to really make a difference.  What I  won’t miss the dirt roads, the unfriendly dogs, who literally as I type this are making all kinds of noise, the lack of freedom of a car and the just general lack things to do in the evenings. 
And so with all of those thoughts I say good bye to Nhlangano.  And ironically as I said my internet didn’t work the last evening in town.  So this was typed up in word and sent from the Peace Corps office.

Adios, Nhlangano.  Hello, next stage of my life.

But there are more stories to come so this blog isn’t over tell I get home to LA.  Then my adventure and job will be complete.
Final Picture in my Nhlangano home, the bed was sold so I slept on a sponge (or foam mat)
So stay tuned.

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