"It is not what we have, but who we have in our lives that counts."
Siyajabula libuya ekhaya! (We are happy to return home!) after what has been a great close of integration and a wonderful international Thanksgiving! This past week has been both fruitful and rewarding in many different aspects and we are so very thankful for all that we have been blessed with here in Swaziland! Earlier this week on Monday, we had our first project/projects presentation to 27 caregivers at SOS. The caregivers work with SOS’s Family-Strengthening Program in three local communities taking care of vulnerable children. Our presentation was about sustainability and income-generating projects including permagardening and making your own aloe lotion. The presentation took almost two and a half hours because the caregivers were very involved and asked great questions throughout. At the end, we had dedicated sign-up sheets for each of the six topics we had given an overview of and all of the caregivers signed up for one or more practicum-based training programs for each of the subjects! We were amazed and thrilled by the response and are very happy/thankful that we will soon be very busy with community training efforts!
On Tuesday we left for All-Volunteer Training in Matsapha. Basically the Peace Corps brings all the volunteers together and we listen to programming, medical, administrative, and other updates. The best part of it all was Thursday, Thanksgiving, morning we had a mini TedTalks session where 18 volunteers gave short presentations on project successes and other helpful topics. From there we left for our county director’s house in Mbabane for a Thanksgiving feast, and what a feast it was! There were over a hundred people there and we actually had leftovers of nearly everything. It was a very impressive spread. Everyone ate and drank and shared in the merriment of our Peace Corps family. Afterwards, we had a chance to thank and wish our country director luck as he leaves us to be the country director of Morocco on December 14th. Our new director arrives in early December. Once all the goodbyes were said Grace and I and several other G13 PCVs celebrated the end of integration by spending a couple nights at Lidwala's Lodge in the Ezulwini Valley. For those of you who don't know, during integration we aren't allowed to spend more than one night away from site a month, so at the end of integration it's a bit like the leash coming off…everyone is ready to explore more of the country!
Anyways, we had a great night Thursday calling home and and enjoying more time with friends. Friday morning we got up early and a large group of us went for a hike up Sheba’s Breast, a mountain that happens to be in Lidwala's backyard. The hike was incredibly steep and a bit sketchy at times but the view from the top was incredible! It was cloudy and a bit wet out which reminded us of the mountains and hills in Ireland and Scotland. We had a blast at the top enjoying some snacks and playing around on the boulders that dot the ridge line. We got a bit cold at the top though (yea crazy huh?) and descended quickly for hot showers and a short walk to The Gables shopping complex where Mugg&Bean has free refills on coffee! We had a group lunch and then returned to Lidwala's to hang out and enjoy our celebratory 2nd night out!
All in all it’s been a great week and a great holiday. We want everyone, family and friends alike, to know how thankful we are for your support. We love and miss you all dearly! We’re also extraordinarily thankful to have landed in such a beautiful country and to have found welcoming, new family and friends here. We’re just starting to realize how blessed we are to have a network of love and support on two different sides of the world, siyabonga bonkhe kakhulu! Thank you all very much!