Thursday, July 19, 2012

Friends become Family

This past Monday was President's day. Many people around the village travel to visit friends, family & loved ones around the country, but others (like me) decided to relax and enjoy being around home. Over the long weekend I found time to visit with nearby Peace Corps Volunteers, read part of my book, write letters to loved ones in the states, and build upon some of the friendships I have established here in Kang.

My sister who came home from school
in Gabs 
As I cooked myself breakfast on Monday morning, I wondered what activities I could fill my day with. I immediately thought of spending time with the family who lives next door to me. This family has really taken me in & treats me as if I was always a part of their family. I have become annoyed with some of the unwanted male attention I have received here, but much to my surprise, the family next door is comprised of all women. One very old woman, or masadi mogolo, her daughter, five granddaughters (three are close to my age, the other two are 12 & 8 yrs old), one great-granddaughter (9 months old) and one great-grandson (2 yrs old) all stay next door. They have quickly become my closest friends here.

Anyway, many family members came to visit this weekend to discuss the plans for the upcoming wedding for my auntie. She will be married on August 18 & it is customary to hold several family meetings to discuss the preparations for the big day (very unlike American culture). I began to think about what I could do to spend time with all of the young adults & children who were floating around & I decided that I wanted to teach them a few things. I thought a day of teaching them how to make no-bake cookies & friendship bracelets sounded like a great time!

the girls making cookies
Although I'm not a huge fan of the no-bake cookies, people in my community seem to love them. And the best part is that you don't have to bake them, which seems to be the selling point for most people. I like them better with half as much sugar & a little more peanut butter, but they are quick & easy to make if you'd like to try them:

2 c sugar
1/2 c milk
3 T cocoa
1 t vanilla
3 T peanut butter
2 c oats, quick cooking

Mix first three ingredients together in a sauce pan & bring to a boil for one minute. Add vanilla & peanut butter, mix well. Add oats last. Drop by teaspoons on flat surface to harden.

our lovely bracelets
I went to invite them over for the day & soon enough, my house was full of all kinds of family members. Aunties came over to have tea, children came to learn to make cookies & people of all ages left my house with a friendship bracelet on their wrist. Various patterns & techniques were used to make the bracelets, but we made bracelets for every single person in the family - including the tiny baby! They were thrilled to make them. :o)

my gift
After a long day of eating cookies & crafting (rough life, I know), they all went back next door to start cooking. An hour or so later, Gao, the 8 year old girl, came over asking for my friendship bracelet thread and scissors. I let her take them next door and soon enough, they asked me to come see what they had made. My heart was filled with joy when I saw what they had been crafting… my very own bracelet with my name on it!

I was so delighted they took the time to make one for me, but I was curious about what motivated them to do so. The response? "You spent the whole day doing things with us. We will spend two years together, but we don't ever want you to forget about us when you leave."

My heart melted.

I already know it will be impossible to forget them.


Me with Masadi mogolo 
Masadi mogolo (old woman) doesn't speak a word of English, she only speaks sekgalagadi. We often end up looking like we are playing charades because we truly don't know how to communicate with each other, unless one of the granddaughters is there to translate. The day after we all made friendship bracelets, masadi mogolo comes up to me, points at herself, then back at me and says, "family." In English! She asked someone to teach her to say family because she wanted me to know that she thinks of me as a daughter. I can't even begin to explain what a magical moment that was for me! I never knew that one word could be so meaningful…

learning traditional dances for the wedding
I've spent each evening this week at their house attempting to learn the traditional dances for the wedding & so far, I've only got one down. They think it's highly entertaining for me to try to learn their complex dances, and I must admit, it's quite humbling. Practice makes perfect, or at least not awful. :o) They are ordering me a traditional tswana dress for the wedding & it will be made in a pattern the family has picked out for me. After only a few short weeks, strangers have become acquaintances, acquaintances have become friends, and friends have become family. I've only been here in Kang for a little over a month now, but it's difficult to even begin to think about how I will be able to say good-bye in 23 months.

Love & Light,

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