Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The ride home

We have been in South Africa for a little over 8 months! In seems that the weeks fly by, but sometimes the hours and days drag on. It is interesting to look back to how we felt in July compared to how were are doing now. I can really see a growth in both of us.

I would like to share a story about a semi-recent event:
I went to a near-by city to visit one of my good friends last month. At the end of the day,in my excitement, I decided that I would like to stop in the Pick N Pay in hopes of finding some goodies that we cannot find near our village. I certainly found some goodies, but I ended up staying in the store a little too long. The next thing I knew, the speakers were calling all shoppers to the front as it was closing time (it was 5p). After I picked up some soy sauce, I headed up to the cashier to wait in a very long line. After I was checked out, I left the convenience of the mall to the harsh, noisy, dirty taxi rank across the street. As I walked out the door, I realized that the sun was about to start setting. I would not have thought anything of it, but I had to pass into a township where I would catch the next taxi going to our village. The township was not one that I liked in the daytime, much less felt comfortable navigating in the darkness.

I found the taxi I needed to go on and only saw one other woman waiting inside at which point I started to get a little nervous as this guaranteed that I would arrive in the township after dark. As I had no other option, I found a seat in the taxi and waited. After a few minutes, more people started to take their seats in the taxi. One of these people was a woman who sat next to me and started to chat. She asked me what I was doing in South Africa and I told her that I was a volunteer. And she said "are you a Peace Corps Volunteer?" I was shocked. People rarely understand my garbled explanation of what I am doing in South Africa. She said that she knew a Peace Corps Volunteer from 6 years ago who worked at the school she where she is currently teaching. She told me that he held a workshop for the teachers where she learned a lot of good information. She was able to tell me about his character and it was clear that he had an impact on her life. This really made me think about our jobs here because sometimes it does not feel like we are really making as much of an impact as we would hope. The truth is that every single person impacts more people than they will ever know. We may never know the impact we have on others.

After our conversation, she asked me where I was going and when I told her she spoke with the driver to make sure that he would drive me straight to the next taxi that I would need to catch. She also asked around on the taxi and we found out that three other women were also going to the same area. We all decided to look out for each other and make sure we were safe. Sometimes my independent side comes out and I do not feel like I need to be looked after every second, but at this moment, I realized that I have not felt so cared for and accepted by perfect strangers.


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