16 October 2009

Not Too Much And In A Dream-Like State

3 generations in Gueydan, LA-Milly aka RG Dimple, Megan, Bronwyn, and Peg
It's been a long time since I last wrote. I really didn't think it would take me this long to get on the ol' blog and update about life back home.... but time has flown and I'm not sure where the weeks and days have gone. It's hard to believe it's been over a month since I left South Africa... and almost a month and a half since I've seen all my family and friends in Metz... really hard to believe. The last month has been pretty great and it's been really fun to see family, friends, and Austin again.
Top fun things? I flew with Keri halfway home, we left South Africa together and flew to London where we split up to take our next flights. A good group of friends and my family met me at the airport and welcomed me home. The first week was a daze... I spent lots of time sleeping and sleeping hard at that. Jet lag can really do a number on you... and recovering from about 30 hours of traveling. I've had many good coffee dates with good friends, dinners, Mexican food, conversations, and lots of laughing. I went to visit my Grandma and all my family in Louisiana... they welcomed me home with a nice sign and plenty of hugs. I had coffee and conversation with my grandma and every morning I was there, I was made a bowl of Malt-O-Meal. My cousin June got me a ticket to see Bruce Springsteen in his home state of New Jersey and the concert just so happened to be ON my 31st birthday. An amazing show.. and one I don't think I'll ever forget, I'm glad June and I got to go together. I spent a lovely few days walking around the Baltimore Harbor, drinking coffee, and people watching. I had a chance to meet up with Ronda, who's living just outside of D.C. It's nice to know that bonds are still tight between volunteers even when we're on "this side." Dominique, one of my closest friends, threw me a birthday party where I got to celebrate with some of my favorite people. My friend Jen, who was in AmeriCorps NCCC with me in Denver right after I graduated high school, flew in for a visit over Columbus Day weekend. We had some good laughs and good conversations. I've been 80's dancing and I've seen my friend Brian DJ.... two things I really missed doing.
I can't put into words what I'm feeling and how I'm transitioning... I'm just taking it one day at a time and trying to get settled. Everything feels like a dream. Was I really in Metz Village for 2 years? How small was my room? What did it feel like to be all sweaty and hot and smushed in a taxi? I miss my friends and family there greatly and I feel so lucky to be back home with my friends and family here. I think I've grown up, I think I've aged, I think I've let a lot of things go... I really feel like I'm one person that has lived in two different worlds. Two worlds that don't have much chance of touching... two worlds that only a select few people have seen and know about. It's surreal. Very, very surreal.
I am planning on keeping this blog up for a little while... post some pictures of life in the states, of things I think are important.... it just might be sporadic for the next few weeks, I'm still trying to organize pictures and get used to the internet being so fast and computers being available all the time... shockingly, that's a little overwhelming. So, I'll be in touch... I'll be back on here soon.
This is Megan Mmapula Owen signing off at 11:05 pm, it's time for bed. The Phokungwane family has now been up for a good 2 hours.

08 September 2009

last day in metz

On my last night in the village we had a cake from Taposa. Emma, the woman MmaDiapo has hired to help with things around the house, won R1,000 in a women's running competition and used R50 of it to get a "Goodbye Mmapula" cake. While sipping juice and eating tons of icing, Maite came over to sit with me, said she wanted to tell me a story. Earlier in the week, while they were all sitting on their back stoop, Karabo crossed her legs and was genuinely confused when the family seemed to be amused. "Karabo! Where did you learn such a thing? Are you a lekgowa (white person)? Only white people sit with their legs crossed, we Africans sit with our legs straight in front of us." "I'm not a lekgowa! I saw Mmapula sit like this! I'm just sitting like Mmapula." "Mmapula is a lekgowa, she is white." "No, no, Mmapula is just like me, she is just like you." Maite said she and Margaret were so excited that Karabo would think such a thing... think that I was no different than her in any way, that I was one of the family. That was the perfect end to my chapter in Metz. I know there were a lot of things I wanted to accomplish when I found myself in Peace Corps and in my village, but those things were constantly changing during my service. Now that it's the end, I see that I was pretty successful with my service and am most proud of all the relationships I made and cultivated during my time here. I have friends, family, and a place for life in a little, rural, South African Village.

I left good ol' Metz 3 days ago and it's been a whirlwind of activity ever since.
I'm not sure what all is going to come in the future, what directions I will turn and take, but I'm really, really glad I did this and stuck it out until the very end. There are new adventures ahead. New people to know. Old friends and family to keep in touch with. Food to eat. Bowling and dancing to do. Beautiful places to see. Thank you for this life.

This is Mmapula Phokungwane signing off in Metz Village and South Africa for the last time. Stay tuned for updates on the adventure of transition back to America!

03 September 2009

Final Result

This winter, because it would get dark so early, I spent a good chunk of time making not one, but TWO blankets with the colors of the South African flag...black, green, white, red, yellow, and blue. One for me and one for MmaDiapo as a thank you gift. I sent my finished blanket home with June in her big ol' suitcase and presented MmaDiapo with hers tonight. It's about 5'5" by 5'5", wasn't made off of any kind of pattern, and I couldn't tell you how many skeins I used. I think it turned out pretty well!

01 September 2009

A Little Heart

Thanks to so many giving people that I am lucky to know in the States some pretty awesome things have been able to happen while I've been living in Metz.
My Uncle Hansford, who lives in Gueydan, gave me a little bit of money to do something for my village, and with the help of my high school English teacher, Cohen, I was able to successfully support The Women's Literacy Group of Metz with new school supplies! This is a group of women that comes together under the mango trees in MmaLetsoalo's yard three afternoons a week. They are learning to read and write in their mother tongue, Sotho.
I spent one lovely afternoon with their teacher, Maggy, at her house, hanging out with her family, and going through all the supplies I was able to buy.
Here's Maggy with some of her grandchildren and some of the supplies that were purchased.
And here's the amazing traditional meal we ate together after we had our meeting. At one point, Maggy looked at her daughter and said, "I am eating with my friend Mmapula and it is so nice for my heart."

I told Maggy that people at home wanted to help me support projects in Metz. Her literacy class has done so much for the ladies and we wanted to do a little something to help her be able to teach them just a little bit better. Each student was given a plastic folder with a new notebook, pens, Gueydan Museum pencils, a sharpener, an eraser, and a pencil bag to keep everything organized. A whiteboard with new markers, a filing system, and two books for Math and Writing were given to the teacher.
Some of the money was also used to buy World and Africa maps for the Kodumela office and all 7 of the drop in centers.
Rejoice, June, and I all drove to all the centers to hang them up and give the cookers and kids little lessons in geography. I can't tell you how awesome it was to see kids really interested... and how cool it is to sit in the office and watch people try to find places in the world, have discussions about locations on the maps, and ask me questions about different countries and continents. HUGE!

SO many people are touched by the generosity. It's pretty neat when you think about how much we're all working together.

31 August 2009

That R20,000

This morning, John and Mary came out to visit Metz and all the projects the R20,000 funded. It was a nice visit, with the three of us smushed in the front of their bakkie, riding around different villages seeing the sites and catching up. We talked of how beautiful the mountains are, we talked of how successful Kodumela is, and they expressed interest in trying to help Cedric with his home gardens plan... they may have some funds he can apply for!
Here is what some of the money went towards:
A brand new bed for Ophelia's house!!! She had been sleeping on a boxspring.
The steel doors for the drop in center storage rooms at Sally's Place Creche in Makgaung Village. These doors replaced some wooden ones that weren't holding up well after all the big rains last summer.
Each of the 7 drop in centers got a filing cabinet for the new filing system Rejoice is trying to create. When all is said and done, each center will have a file with a birth certificate, proof of grants, and other personal information about each child on the register.
Ophelia's yard (shown) will have a nice fence going all around it. The new fence will go along with the new toilet and house that was built by the Limpopo Provincial Government. (in the picture you can see the foundation that was laid for her house... she's been waiting for 2 years for this to happen and it FINALLY is!!)
And Mokgadi's yard now has a new toilet and water pipe and tap! I have to say, the new additions go nicely with the house Kodumela built them and their leafy green veggie garden.

RDP Houses

Here are some pictures of the government housing (RDP- Reconstruction and Development Programme) and the houses the families lived in before they got their new ones. Sometimes there is quite a difference.
This RDP house is still in the finishing stages... it needs a roof!
Straight ahead is the newer government housing and to the left is the house the family was living in before.
Most families move into their new housing and still use their old house for an extra bedroom, storage, etc.

30 August 2009

Brenda Fassie Dance Party Awesomeness

My Sunday evening consisted of dancing with some of the women in my family. Aw yeah. Maite, Karabo, Lethabo, MmaDiapo, MmaKori, Linda, Margaret, Salome, Maria, and I all squeezed into MmaDiapo's living room and danced to Brenda Fassie... the queen of African pop.