Summing up

I have been in Mayana for exactly one month now and I want to take the time to reflect my stay and experiences made during this month.

Overall I really have been enjoying my time in Mayana so far. I feel at home and have established a daily routine. I didn’t have any really bad experiences, didn’t have any major trouble with anything or didn’t feel homesick – having an internet connection even a really slow one helped preventing this – and I think that says it all! But let me get a little bit more into detail 😉

Regarding my housing situation I have made my peace with sharing the guesthouse with geckos, mice, spiders or the occasional bird. Thanks Caro for lending me the mosquito net!!! I get up between 6am and 7am (thanks to the rooster) and I am in bed by 9pm – especially now that it has gotten quite cold at night. I have also accustomed to cold showers – to be honest: I warm some water now in the morning – , being dusty and dirty all the time and not wearing makeup – well ok, still mascara but that’s it! At least I got a nice tan going by now. 🙂

I perfected doing my laundry by hand, making fire and cooking on the fire. I got used to only eating breakfast and dinner – which is still more than most people in Mayana eat all day. I haven’t eaten any meat, sugar or fat this past month – good side effects by the way ;-). But I am longing for a nice cup of coffee since I have only been drinking instant coffee in the morning. By now I know which things were absolutely useless to bring along and which came in really handy. I have to admit, that I never wore my favorite ballerinas or have used my hair oil. But the leatherman and my Swiss army knife are extremely helpful!

I also get along with Joseph’s family really well and we share many laughs when sitting around the fire at night. I also really like their kids who have now gotten used to me and tell me things like “you are a really cool person”. I think buying them the occasional coke or candy or inviting them for dinner helped a little. Also Gerhard, who is 16 years old and a very shy young man, has opened up a lot and he enjoys hanging out with me and getting my opinion or advice on things. Also the 11 months old baby Glorian who didn’t want to get on my arm in the beginning, now comes over every morning by himself to see what I am doing.

Together with Joseph and Klaus who I work with the most at the center, we have accomplished a lot for the better. After getting everything in order at the center, we have implemented a new pricing system for computer training and community office. I also taught Klaus what marketing and advertising is all about so he would get more customers for these services. He improved a lot on the computer by watching me and also putting things together himself which we later edited together. He is using the teaching manuals I created for computer class for himself now to polish his computer knowledge and skills so he will be able to teach it to others. Also we have created a bookkeeping system with excel which I am still teaching to him and Peter and lets just hope that they will stick to it to keep their books straight.

As you know I have also assembled the charcoal fridge and I have started making the third film about Gerhard. So I have not been bored at all during my time here.

But besides all those great and exciting experiences, of course there are also things that bother me.

I have trouble with people coming over for no reason, just sitting outside my place, staring at me and watching what I am doing. When asking them, what they want, they say “nothing” or “I came to hang out with you”. And I just know they came to get food or whatever. But they don’t ask for it, they just sit there, stare and wait for me to offer them some. Depending on who it is, I am happy to feed them.

Also I can’t stand it, that I am being watched very closely when returning from shopping. Food plays a big role in people’s lives here. They question me all the time why I bought this or that and so many of it or if I am eating all of this myself. It really makes me uncomfortable.

The struggle between wanting to help people out and the feeling of being taken advantage of is tough. I can tell that some don’t seem to appreciate it and think it is my duty as a “rich sirumbu” to give them something. I don’t like being the one having to share but no one else offering me anything. So I got a little frustrated when I saw them having peanuts or watermelon and I wasn’t offered any while I always offer them something. It made me really happy though when Julia came over once and gave me a piece of her candy. Or Gerhard showed me how to roast peanuts on the fire. That was very sweet!

It also frustrates me that people in Mayana are very ignorant with their environment, everywhere you go there is rubbish laying around. They finish a coke and just toss the can into the bush. They just don’t seem to care. Also I don’t get why they don’t take care of their things. You would think that if you don’t have much, you take extra good care of your stuff not to ruin or break. But kids just leave their toys lying in the sand, stepping on them and breaking them. You find CD’s, backpacks, purses or puzzle pieces everywhere.

Also the work ethic is not understandable to me. Most people here are unemployed but if you ask them if they have time to do something or help you with they claim to be busy. And I wonder what they are busy with. It feels to me like a lot of them are just sitting around doing nothing and I am thinking, they could at least clean up their household a little.

The team is trying very hard though. Some are tired pretty quickly and need a lot of resting time because they are not used to work on a computer for 10 hrs straight like me but they are doing their very best. I have been wondering a little lately if all the work I so far put into organizing, filing, creating forms, writing instructions, explaining, teaching and coming up with new procedures will be continued after I leave – but then I come to the conclusion if they just stick to 50% of it, it might already help a lot and take the team forward to the big step of independency in 2017. When I ask them they say that they have been learning a lot, are very happy with it and think everything now makes much more sense. I love it how amazed they are at some of the forms I created. I am especially happy when one of them has a suggestions to improve something, then I am even more happy to help them with it! I have to keep in mind though, that I am dealing with a totally different educational background than at home and I might be asking too much of them sometimes.

I am looking forward to what the next 6 weeks will have in stock for me and I’m still excited to be here! I hope you guys will continue following my blog and enjoy reading about my experiences. I am very happy to see, that I got followers from all over the world and hope to crack the 10.000 views and the 1000 unique visitors soon 😉

Now I am on a little vacation for 4 days. I went to a camp near Mahango National Park which I am really looking forward to visiting! Guess what the next post will be about 😉

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7 Responses to Summing up

  1. jomapuc says:

    Thank you sio muc for this report, Christina!
    Well, it sounds really very much like Africa. I admire your honesty to write this down and share your analysis. In comparison to mine of last year when I revisited the community where I spent my sabbatical, I went through a difficult few days to accept how little progress there seemed to be. But then: I learned to look closer and learned some amazing steps they made.
    In the end each progress – may it be small – is a progress, as long as the people there learn to be initiative and improve their situation by themselves. I am sure you are a very good example for them. They will remember!
    Coffee!!! After quite some days I was happy to find a place where I could by Italian coffe in Pretoria. Arabica Coffee, with buttermilk rusks, still one of my favourites. So you will have at least one thing you are looking forward when coming back to good ol´ Europe 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. elkedieterich says:

    You are doing such a great work in Mayana!
    And as Christoph said, you will gain some new life lessons, which will be definitely helpful back in Germany, back in your old life.

    For most oft he things bothering you, I can just say: TIA – This is Africa. I am in and out of Africa since quite a while and I also still realize these things. For some things I just gave up. You have to accept it, you can’t change people, but you can be a role-model. And even if you dont see any changes, e.g. concerning litter, people will see and maybe also reflect their behaviour – the same as we do when we are abroad and have the chance to experience a different culture.

    Now enjoy your 4 days of „Auszeit von der Auszeit“. I cross my fingers that there will be some nice coffee…but to be honest I doubt it 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • 117daysinsouthernafrica says:

      Thanks for all the support! They just have instant, but I’ll have to ask which brand they’re using. Tastes much better than mine!

      Liked by 1 person

      • elkedieterich says:

        Come to visit me in Dar…great coffee at my place… oh, das war jetzt nicht nett….


  3. Christoph says:

    One month already…time flies! 🙂 All in all sounds like a great and memorable time with a couple of new life lessons that will be helpful when you are back! 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • 117daysinsouthernafrica says:

      If I just stick to 50% what I’ve learned from this experience it will get me further in life 😉


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