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Xenophobia

I wanted to thank all of you who emailed with concerns about the violence in South Africa against foreigners. To calm all of you, these attacks are not happening in the rural villages, where Peace Corps Volunteers live. And the Peace Corps security staff is keeping a close eye on what is happening, so we are not allowed to go certain places, like Jo’burg, where the violence is happening.The violence is almost exclusively against Zimbabwe nationals. A lot of South Africans blame the Zimbabwe immigrants for the economic situation in South Africa, including causing their specific unemployment. Very scary. I would like for a politician to stand up and say that it is not okay and that the problems are deeper than an influx of immigrants, but that’s not going to happen.

Other than that, life is up and down. We have two cats that we allow into the house that save our sanity.

Our Cats, Nngwe and Pedi, Playing in a bag

Nngwe (left) and Pedi (right) in a Bag

Pedi taking a cat nap
(until 5 in the morning, when he need to go outside)

Neither of us have ever been cat people, so it is different for us. We also need advice as to what to do with cats reaching sexual maturity and spraying. Any help is appreciated.

Work at the schools has been crap for me. I have done nothing. Robi has done a little. So we have been doing out of school projects. Robi has sent in a grant proposal to start a Girls Club that will teach crafts. She has been practicing and teaching some of the crafts to Amo, one of our host sisters. So far, she has learned how to make earrings and a bracelet.

Amo making earrings

The Finished Product…very nice.

I am a computer guru in these parts, and I am going to be running about 6 months of computer training for Principals, Head of Departments, Senior Teachers, Regular Teachers, and then out-of-school youth (18-30 yr old). A big job, but I’m excited for it.

We have been spending a lot of time at home. When we are not working, we have been playing with Tlo Tlo, our youngest host sister.

Tlo Tlo, the Spelunker

Along with the cats, Tlo Tlo is a break from the hectic world, as we try to use our broken Tswana to communicate. Mostly I just tickle her and pick her up by her ankles upside down, spin her around as she screams for her Mama. Afterwards, she only says “Gape” (pronounced just like happy) which means “Again”.

Rapula and Tlo Tlo clowning around

One of Tlo Tlo’s favorite activities, besides treating me like a jungle gym, is to open the Salone ya Tlo Tlo (“Tlo Tlo’s Salon). She will brush our hair with our hair brush or the dog’s brush, whichever is closer (don’t worry…the dog’s brush has not been used on the dog yet). It nice at the end of the day to sit and get a head massage.

Robi gets the special treatment at the salon

Salone Ya Tlo Tlo

The weather is insane. Today it was 24C, about 80F. Tonight it is supposed to get to 6C, or about 45F. And no one has insulation. Luckily, nothing happens after dark, and we go to bed at 8:30PM on most nights. A late night is 10PM. There is no rain (though the forecast calls for it on Sunday. We can only hope), and therefore, no water. We have a 5000 liter reservoir that is refilled when it gets low, but it was open for bugs and leaves and trash (serious). So we dumped a bottle of bleach into the tank and patched it up with duct tape (which is a pain to buy in South Africa, by the way). Now the water smells like a swimming pool, I figure that we are gleaming white inside. When the level gets lower, we will get more water to balance it out, and it will be be drinkable without boiling or irradiating it with UV light. That’ll be nice.

On a sad note, we have had a few volunteer friends go home. First it was Andy, to go get married, of all things. I guess I can’t complain about that. The latest has been Dani and Jason, who feel that they are not following their passions. They are going to go home for about a month, then move to Moscow, where Jason will work in Human Rights and Dani will work at a Refugee Orphanage. We will miss them both, but we are happy for their new adventures. (On a selfish note, we hope that they will be there when we are traveling after Peace Corps so we have a place to stay in Russia.)

Jason and Dani are off to Moscow

Well, that’s it for now. I hope that the pictures come through. I think I have figured them out. If they don’t work, let me know. It was very easy to do, so I figure it won’t work.

Hope you are all safe, wherever you are.

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