Day 7: And then there were two. (Happy birthday Paul!, from Katy)
Danielle left us this morning for the United States and Amber and Kait’s plane was delayed due to a storm in WashDC, so Katy and I are alone until Wednesday evening. We woke up early to see Danielle off and then headed to the kombi park to fetch a ride to Elangeni. This morning was a parent-teacher conference about one of our children Nomfundo who did not pass her graduation exam last year. She is required to retake the written exams in Physical Science and Geography to earn her high school diploma. This morning the headmaster called us and Nomfuno into his office at 8am to discuss what Nomfundo would need to do to go to school and pass the exam. Nomfundo was excited to go back to school, except for the part where she would be required to cut off her braids (all children at our school have completely shaved heads). The entire time I was happy for Nomfundo, who was ecstatic about going back to school, but sad for Nomfundo that she did not have her mom there with her. I know she loves us, but it would be somewhat like walking down the aisle without your father. I tried to make a joke with her that she had TWO moms (me and Katy) there who loved her!
We then went to the Primary school to check on our computer lab. We are still having trouble getting the software we purchased to work… but while we were there the children kept having us take their picture and show them the screen. It just never gets old for them. They kept yelling “SHOOT ME” in between petting me and Katy’s hair. They are basically the cutest kids I have ever seen in life.
Bheki then took us to the mall to pay for our primary school kids fees. And we stopped by the chinese electronic store and bought the Maziyas a small solar panel lighting system. The real deal was much too expensive for me and Katy’s tiny teacher pockets, but we pitched in and bought them this small converter and battery that is only 40W – big enough for 3 lights for 8 hours. The kids were thrilled and the oldest brother was so thankful. I cant wait to go back on Thursday to check out how powerful the lights are – the man swore it was powerful enough to light their small dung huts.
On the kombi back to the school, Bheki explained to us why Nomfundo’s brother was in prison. The man is a prophet (traditional healer) and he snuck up on the royal mountain and dug up royal bones to be used in medicinal potions. He was caught and sent to prison for 5 years. Katy missed this entire conversation as she was trying to calm her stomach as she watched our neighboring passenger devour an entire footlong slimy hot dog, trying to hang on for dear life as the driver took winding roads on the side of a mountain at top speeds, all while getting harassed by a 10 year old money collector to whom she threw a 20 rand bill and yelled to “just keep it”! This description does not capture how much Katy loves this experience. She kept video-taping it and saying “I cant wait to show Paul” (her dad).
We finally reached their house after 2 bloody blisters on Katy’s feet and sweat dripping down my back and they are ready to go to town with us. We head to the mall where they were told to select something to purchase – it turned out to be school clothes for Mazwi, underwear and sanitary pads for Pilo, and deodorant and body wash for Samkelo. They never ask for more than they need. Ever. Today when we were getting on the escalator he grabbed Katy’s wrist with one hand and mine with the other and was too terrified to let go. Katy and I looked at each other and I realized we were thinking the same thing – we don’t care if circulation ever returns to our hands again. And I’m quite certain Katy was estimating how much room she had in her suitcase.
When we put them in a kombi with the fare for the ride home and watched the van pull away, it was like two moms sending their kids off to school for the first time. You would have thought that we were never going to see them again. We stood there waving at the kids in the bus until long after they couldn’t see us anymore.