Some snapshots of Swazi life:
Everyone you see in Bulembu, you say ‘hello, how are you?’ to. Generally response is “I am fine, how are you?”. You can’t just say “hi” 🙂 Even when we are driving we wave at most people and they wave back – this is very normal. If you say “sanibonani” (hello) to a group of aunties (ladies who live with the kids – 6 to a house), you’ll get an enthusiastic “yebo!” in return.
Quite often when driving you will also pick up people who are walking in your direction – whether they are the headteacher of the pre-primary school or saw mill workers or visiting teams from abroad.
When we take Anaya to pre-school, as soon as any of the preschool kids see her, a shout goes up of “An-eye-ya!” and 5 year olds appear from all sides to hold her (and my) hand, and to help her take her bag to the right place, then they battle to all hold her hand. I then get random small children silently trying to hold my hand or reaching for a hug, or occasionally a special handshake with some sort of finger click in it.
We have had a few people appearing at our front door asking for work – one older lady told us she was going to babysit that night lol. Thankfully we have someone in the Bulembu staff who has said they will recommend people for us when we need them.
When you go to the Bulembu Store to get milk, you have to take your own bottles – as it is super fresh creamy milk from the dairy that morning, so we currently have milk in two 500ml water bottles 🙂
Cows and bulls walk everywhere – roads, playgrounds, and they are often found in people’s gardens (not ours yet). The bulls aren’t very dangerous apparently, as they are used to people. Cowpats are also a hazard…
Power cuts are regular and fairly long (several hours) – usually the heavy rain causes a line to go down, and the workers at Piggs Peak apparently don’t come out in the rain (water & electricity don’t mix…), so we have a variety of candles and torches easily accessible, as well as a large LED flash light which is rechargeable and lasts 24 hours. Mobile phones are very handy with their built in torches, and they tend to always be on us. You do have to make sure they are charged regularly (plus we have a solar battery charger as back up). We also have a gas cooker for this reason.
Tallie keeps getting given cards and notes from other children in other years at the school expressing appreciation for Tallie and Seren and the family coming to Bulembu, and wanting to be her best friend. She is very diligent at writing a card in response.
Church starts at 9am. If you get there at 8:45am you’ll get a seat, otherwise you’ll probably be standing at the back until the kids go out (half the church – about 260 kids), and then you can get a seat. Songs are both SiSwati songs – always sung with a dance by all – and English ones that we know well, but tend not to be danced to. Every other week they have a post-church coffee shop, so people (usually adults) can chat.
Hope this gives you a glimpse of life here in Bulembu so far, thank you for your support.