A Farewell to Remember

mary-poppinsDo you ever feel like Mary Poppins? – The seasons in South Africa are beginning to change. It is not seen as the dramatic color change of autumn leaves, or the crispness in the air from the first frost, but we know winter is coming.

The ethanol in the thermometer on the wall in our little house has finally contracted enough to read less than 80°F and we can almost wear long pants comfortably again.

As the wind begins to shift, we reach inside our carpet bag to extract our umbrellas. Standing hand in hand, with a tear in our eyes we prepare to fly from this beautiful place.

It is hard to believe that the time has come for us to go. When one turns around and looks back at the journey of life, it all seems so short, one day practically falls on top of the next. Yet at the same time, if we try to remember each individual event we realize that so much has happened and it seems forever ago that we set foot on South African Soil.

It is the beginning of April and term 1 had just been brought to a close. Susie has achieved, through amazing dedication, what seemed the impossible. The Chrysalis Girls Club is ready to hand over to the leaders in full. All the cabinets are organized and projects are labeled. The leaders have been briefed and the torch has exchanged hands.

My community computer class has finished and the participants have joyfully received their certificates. The workshops have ceased and Expand the Band has triumphed.

We leave this village with a feeling of closure. This time may have come sooner than expected, but it is the right time none the less.

We said our farewells to the family, schools and community organizations and in true South African Style, with much singing and dancing and speeches all around they rejoiced in our coming, remembered our service, and wished us well on our continued journey of life.

We could not have asked for more from a final farewell. If you have ever seen the Tim Burton movie Big Fish you will know what we mean when we say, at the end of it all everyone was there. As we traveled through the forest to be released back into the big river of life once again, it seemed as though all that we had helped along our Peace Corps journey stood by waving and wishing us safe travels.

Gifts were offered either direction. From us we presented an assortment of banners one to each school,one to Chrysalis Girls Club, and one to the Home and Community Based Care.

During our service Prosser UMC and the Barr Family has donated an assortment of toys and games that we have in turn given to the Dubs Creche (pre-school) in the village just to the north of Mokuruanyane. This creche may be the poorest of the poor in finances, but they make up for this in full in heart. We have witnessed a small tin structure with dirt floors be transformed though community contributions into a brick structure with a solid concrete foundation. Upon Susie’s last visit she saw hand crafted posters on the walls and creative learning spaces spread around the room. With the dedication of the women who work and care for the children this organization has lifted itself and continues move forward sharing love and support to the children of Dubs.

Our donations to the creche have really been quite small, a box of used toys here and some supplies there, but at our farewell the lead teacher came down to Mokuruayane to give us a gift. She gave out of love. The school has so little but she wanted to say, “Thank you.” Her presence, and her gift overwhelmed us. This is true generosity. This is the lesson that will keep close to our hearts. Give out of love and love as much as you can.

In the end the village seemed to echo Dick Van Dike’s final line, “Goodbye, Mary Poppins, don’t stay away too long.”

We send a big vote of thanks back to you, our friends and family. Thank you for supporting us during our Peace Corps experience by keeping us in your thoughts and prayers and by sending us packages and letters. We look forward to seeing you soon.

Kgotso (Peace)

Benjamin and Susie

Final moments in the village.

Final moments in the village.