Swaziland: Day 5

Friday, 6.40 am: Well, we’ve got off to a not-very-good start today: my iPod appears to be (thinks of even more unpleasant words for “screwed”, then settles for) broken. Let’s see how the rest of today pans out, shall we?

The team’s done all its distributions now; today the homestead and project visits start. Hoping more stories come out of this

6.05pm:Well, today seems to have turned out rather well, despite the shaky start. As for the iPod… well, leaving as it was seems to have sorted its problem out (and drained all its battery power in the process). Maybe I should buy a proper iPod charger for journeys like this. At least I’ve got a minidisc machine and 5 hours of salsa for the trip home. Or I might just watch Mamma Mia instead. But enough about that…

Today was harrowing in places, sad in others, yet with odd glimpses of joy and hope occasionally poking through the sadness (tell me I did not just write that!).

The team split into three groups and each spent time in a different homestead. I was with Val and Heather, and for some reason we seemed to get all the homesteads with no man in sight. At the first one, all the husbands were away working as drivers (one as a teacher), and only made one monthly visit back home after they’d earned enough money to keep their families going. At the other, we found an old lady looking after four great-grandchildren whose mothers had all died (no mention of dads there). Only one of her granddaughters was still alive. She grew her own corn and wove mats for a living. It takes three weeks to make one mat, which sells for 40 Rand (about three quid). Heather and I bought a mat each.

On the way to the homesteads this morning, we stopped off at the post office in Pigg’s Peak for stamps and phonecards. A few people came up to us, smiled, greeted us very warmly and thanked us for choosing to visit their country. I’m definitely not in London…

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