By: Alexander Longwell
It took some time but I finally made it to Swaziland. I arrived at the King Mswati III airport around 11am last Saturday January 14th after taking a few very long flights from Toronto. When I arrived I was greeted by Dalton Dlamini, OAC coordinator and a few the volunteers from the Olympafrica Centre (OAC) who wanted to come along for the ride. They greeted me with excitement and a warm welcome and provided me with a fun ride into Mbabane.
After dropping the kids off at the OAC Dalton took me to the main Swaziland Olympic and Commonwealth Games (SOCGA) office where I met Muriel Hofer, SOCGA’s CEO and secretary manager, for the first time. She also gave me a warm welcome and passed forward the details of my living quarters for the next three months. I’ll be staying at a place called Sibebe View Lodge which is only a couple hundred meters from Bombasos which has recently been turned into a restaurant. The location is great, landlords are very patient and accommodating and the view is unlike anything I have seen before. My room looks out into the valley between two mountains, one of them being Sibebe Mountain. After picking up groceries and other necessities Dalton Dropped me off at my new home and got settled in.
My first day wasn’t until Tuesday giving me a two day cushion to get settled in and adjust to the Swazi times. During this time I took my first walk into town and explored the city a bit so that I could familiarize myself with the area. The walk itself was nice, and the locals I passed along the way were very friendly, greeting me as I passed by. It took me a few days to get familiar but after a week I can at least find the places I need.
My first day of work was good however I felt almost as if I could have done more. When I arrived I got to meet everyone I will be working with and like everyone else so far they welcomed me in instantly. I was given a desk and computer to work at however I did not get my first job until Mrs. Hofer showed up a couple hours later giving me my first experience of the Swazi time I had heard about.
I’m now on my second week at work. One of my main jobs at the moment is to improve their social media. Further the AGM was on Sunday at the OAC, an event that has been causing Mrs. H a lot of stress. At the meeting member associations of SOCGA all gathered to go over yearly reports and discuss concerns they had. After that they elected a new board of SOCGA for the 2017-2020 quadrennial.
Following the meeting we had lunch at the OAC and celebrated the hard work everyone had done. During this time I was able to get to know everyone better and become part of the family. I had a great talk with Mrs. H as well and she expressed multiple times how proud she is of everyone.
It has been a great first week and I look forward to the next few months here. I hope all is well back home with my friends and family.