Ubuntu: The Baby on the Bus edition

Still chugging along with my Community Needs Assessment but wanted to share a positive example of humanity. I am open about my mental health needs and a proud mountain girl (definitely not complaining about living in the ‘Berg for PC). Some of my college classmates are participating in an awesome project starting June 8th. They plan to summit all of Colorado’s 14ners (14,000 ft, peaks) this summer to raise awareness about mental health. This is not an easy journey at all as there are 53 summits and some of the mountains are notoriously vicious. Then again it is fitting as life with mental health needs is unpredictable. Some days are very stormy and other days consist of clear skies of optimism. I plan to follow the team (which includes the illustrious Aaron McDowell who kept our Village Aid Project Teams together) on their 10 week journey and encourage my communities (readers sounds too pretentious) to do the same at:

http://cotdexpedition.wix.com/cotd#!the-project/chgb

or
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Climb-Out-of-the-Darkness-Expedition/382881848534894

Thank y’all from a current PCV who wants more mental needs accommodated in the world! Wishing y’all good luck and safe conditions. Please enjoy hiking season for me!

isiZulu: intwana

isiNgisi: baby human (could also work for animals but let’s not go into noun class conjugation right now)

Meaning: what likes to cry (ukukhala) on long bus trips

This past week I have been in Pretoria. Pretoria is one of South Africa’s 3 capitals…because South Africa likes to be epic: Cape Town hosts Parliament, Bloemfontein has the Supreme Court of Appeals, Pretoria is home to the President, and if we want to be technical Johannesburg is the location of the Constitutional Supreme Court. In my case, Pretoria is the location of the country office and where I go when PCSA business arises. Getting to Pretoria is a bit of a progress from my area as I am trying to find alternative routes in the nearest city (Ladysmith). Racing after Citiliner buses at remote gas stations of the N3, is not a fun past time for me. Anyways it is at least a 5 1/2 hour ride from my stop to Pretoria (usually you transfer to another Citliner at Jozi’s (Johannesburg) Park Station and then brave the N1 traffic.

This particular Monday the Durban-Jozi bus was full and late (I waited 30 minutes for the bus at the gas station). I was diagonal from a baby girl who was quiet for most of the trip. Around 4:30 PM somewhere in the middle of the Free State, the child starts to scream. She finally had it and I do not blame her. 5 hours on a constantly moving vehicle and additional stimulation would make any infant have a meltdown. Unfortunately the young mother was not able to soothe her child. This is the part when the mob of angry passengers tries to stuff Benadryl in the mother’s hands right?

Nope. This is a bus in South Africa. First the passenger who got on in Ladysmith next to the mother and infant calm wakes up from her nap, picks the child up and stands the aisle for 10 minutes. At the same time a man in the front tries to offer his water bottle and then entertains the child. When the little girl made eye contact with a passenger, they would try to wave or interact with her (ironic because South African cultures tend not to be renowned for direct eye contact). As for the funny American, I tried to sing Shosholoza off key and made obscure faces which worked for 10 minutes for my tough audience. As the man next to me said, “You would have to keep making funny faces to Jo-berg.” I was waiting for someone to get annoyed and increase the volume (if you catch my drift). However no one lost their temper and eventually the girl soothed herself. The African (sorry do not know the specific culture) proverb “It takes a village to raise a child”, as opposed to the American mentality “Your child is your responsibility” applied to this situation.

The math teacher (what I call my American/biological mother…I have 3 moms to keep track of now) recently told me that being a parent made her less judgmental. Maybe it was the autistic child, but she now views meltdowns as the child losing their ability to cope and the parent is doing the best they can.

This edition of Ubuntu: You have your kids and I have mine. Screaming happens.

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