I should not make generalizations but after living in the Zulu Kingdom for a year this one is safe to make: amaZulu love cleanliness. Every household I have been to is neat and tidy, regardless of the family’s financial state. When I asked my host sister why this was she said that the amaZulu view cleanliness close to godliness.
This spring I have learned how to clean things that I did not view as…well washable. Last week the host family initiated spring cleaning where they are up at 5 AM pulling furniture out and maintaining the rooms ( they are currently 4 down, one more to go tomorrow). Everything from touching up on our interior buttery yellow walls to scrubbing shelves has been accomplished. They wait a day when the water is on (I’ll explain the amanzi situation in the near future) and scrub all the blankets and bedspreads.
The host family has a lovely brown leather-like sofa set (two arm chairs and a sofa) which became dirty from use. There is no vacuum cleaner in my household and I wondered how they dealt with leather.
I got my answer.
They dump soapy water (with regular laundry detergent) on to the sofa.
Then they rub the soap into the fabric and continue to dump water until the soap is out/chair appears clean.
Finally, they leave them to benefit from solar energy.
No fabric or furniture was damaged in my family’s spring cleaning activities.
One of the icebreakers at All-Vol was sharing a highlight of our service. I was still in the middle of my site mess and could not name an moment on the spot. I would like to redeem myself now.
During my elongated stay in Pretoria, there was a camp for recently bereaved children (lost a parent since 2013) and child headed households. Given my situation at site, it was really good that I was not at the actually camp because something even better happened. I helped a part of the initial last minute logistics, but our substitute data staff stepped up and took my place. I mentioned in a joking manner that she should do so right before I left. The fact that she did makes me so happy.
When I see photos of her playing netball with the kids, it gives me hope in this organization and South Africa. I see why I became a PCV, to create opportunities for host country nationals to step up and help their communities. If I was at the camp, those children would have taught me a lot about resilience (which is more than bouncing back…but that is another post). However it is not just about me but also the children. Bottom line is that I can learn all the isiZulu I want, but I leave in two years and I will never be amaZulu. Having children find someone from their own culture to support them is more sustainable.
The same woman is going to be my counterpart/community partner for our upcoming training. We just hired another girl my age (ALLELUIA) for data entry and the counterpart just got a job in the lower valley at a school. I am excited for the opportunity to collaborate. If nothing else comes out of this, I have a path forward on how to do projects in the community.