By Nick Hayman:
Sawubona! It’s been a while but Swaziland has offered me many more new and exciting experiences. It’s currently my last week at work and I’ll be finishing up my big school project on the wheelchair basketball program the following week. Most of my work the last month or so has been around this program and helping it set up a new structure to function under once many of the current key players have left (program coordinator is leaving country in February 2019). The topic of the project I’m working in is about reworking the organizational structure of the program to be more sustainable.
I’ve seen the wheelchair basketball players come a long way from when I first started helping out. The games are a lot more physical now, with stronger movement, and more passion within the game. We are working on how to expand the program to have clubs across the country so as to create more meaningful competition and to promote disabled sport in a country where it once was almost non-existent. We brought the Olympafrica players to Mbabane one Saturday to have the training session be part of another event that was going on. It really just wound up being a normal training session but this time it was on a court that had proper basketball nets, so the final score was much higher this time (I think it was 10-5 or so, higher than the usual 2-0). It was a good experience for the players to get to showcase their talents once again to a new audience. After one of the training sessions, a braai (what we call barbecues here in Swaziland) was held for the volunteers that have been helping out since September (as well as 2 of the players who help with planning). A strange moment happened where Bandile brought out a silver bag and everyone started clapping while I was very confused. It turned out the bag had wine in it so that’s why everyone clapped, I guess it was worth a round of applause.
I had the privilege of climbing up a really tall mountain with the Olympafrica staff some weeks ago. The climb took about 3 hours and frankly by body wasn’t quite ready, but we somehow made it to the top. I brought a little prop with me for some good photo opportunities as well. It was a little gloomy when we were climbing but the sun came out once we started out way down. It wouldn’t really be a weekend in Swaziland if I didn’t sunburn myself doing something. I also had the pleasure of heading to the Malolotja Nature Reserve and going on their canopy tour. There were 8 or so zip lines going through trees and over a river and I would highly recommend this experience to any future visitors to Swaziland. I had never zip lined before but sometimes you just have to overcome these fears.
It’s my last week working here at SOCGA, but more importantly, it was my birthday yesterday (November 28th)! I hadn’t thought too much about it being my birthday in the morning until a woman named Rachel came into the office in the morning looking for me. She said that my dad had called her bake shop and had a cake sent to the office. The power of technology is quite amazing that someone from Canada could call and have a cake delivered in Swaziland. This cake was giant and had been shared with people who comes through the office as well as the people working in the car shop next door. We still have some in the fridge so by all means, come by (I can’t pay for your flight from Canada though…). A birthday miracle did happen though; after a month without it, my home internet started working again. Rejoice!
I’ve planned a trip to Kruger National Park (a REAL African safari) as well as Cape town once I finish my project and leave Swaziland on December 8th. As my trip comes to an end, I’ve been having a bit of a strange time trying to summarize how I felt the whole time I was here. A lot of good things happened, a lot of bad/frustrating things happened, and It rained more than I could ever imagine. But as I’ve learned, when there is bad weather you can do 2 things: Let it get you down, or you can make your own weather with the people around you. I’ve learned to make the most of what I’ve been given here in Swaziland, even if it took me a little time. As this will likely be my last blog post (unless I make a bonus Kruger/Cape Town post) I will leave Canadian readers with this; be thankful for what you have at home. Not just the physical things you have (be thankful for those too), but the fact that you live in a country with such impact on the world stage and opportunity to do great things. That the people you’re surrounded by really do want you to succeed and they want to work hard along side you. It took leaving home for 3.5 months, a lot of power outages, a lot of communication problems, a lack of free speech, failing internet, some strange foods, some aspiring disabled athletes, and some really good Swazi people for me to really understand and appreciate the life I’m living back home. Appreciate each other, make your own weather, and keep being awesome.
Until next time,
P.S. Bonus points to anyone who noticed that all my blogs are named after songs I had stuck in my head.