Monday in a Picture – Operation Smell Good

Bathing is super important. Work hard. Play hard. Get smelly. Bathe and smell better. During my first six months in Swaziland, I took bucket baths. For those of you who may be wondering what a bucket bath is, worry not. Boiled water is mixed with cool water in a bucket or small basin. I stand in a large basin and use the warm water from the bucket to wash myself. Just add a washcloth and soap. 

While bucket baths get the job done, they can be messy and leave water on the floor outside of the basin. I knew that there must be a better way. While in the PCV lounge, I saw a solar shower in the free box. I decided to grab it. After trying to figure out how to rig it, I finally decided on a setup. Two concrete nails hold up the solar shower. Four tree branches are suspended from the rafters and tied together to make a shower stall frame. Used flour sacks maneuvered around the frame direct water into the basin. 

With this setup, I use less water and have less cleanup. Also, bucket showers take less time than bucket baths. 

Be kind to yourself. 
Onward. 

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​Monday in a Picture – Christmas in June 

In Peace Corps Swaziland, there’s an annual tradition. It’s a goodbye party known as Christmas in June. The group of PCVs scheduled to leave soon is celebrated by the rest of us with food and Christmas merriment. This past weekend, we gathered for Christmas in June. 

The above picture is of some of the PCVs gathered around to enjoy the festivities. 

Be kind to yourself. 
Onward. 

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Monday in a Picture – Ummiso and Sabaca (NSFW)

Last week, I was fortunate to attend a school dance competition. Schools from all over the Manzini region gathered to showcase their skills. 

Ummiso (pronounced oo-me-see) is a Swazi traditional dance performed by young unmarried girls. This tradition is rooted in the grand Swazi tradition of Umhlanga (pronounced oom-shlan-ga).

Sabaca (pronounced sah-bah-click c-ah) is a Swazi traditional warrior dance performed by boys and men. In each ummiso or sabaca performance, there is singing. Occasionally, there are drums. A fellow teacher explained that Swazis communicate and tell stories through songs. The songs sung during the competition are no different. 

I’m very proud of our students, and all of the hard work that they did to prepare for the event. They represented the school and the community very well.

Be kind to yourself. 
Onward. 

Ever wonder what is Kirby doing? Follow the blog!

For him

What were you wearing
when this happened to you? 
Where were you going? 
You know it ain’t safe
to walk around here 
at night. 
Did you provoke him? 
Give him reason to believe
that you wanted what you got. 
Did you speak
when you should have
remained silent? 
Give him too much lip? 
Were you walking too fast? 
Not fast enough? 
If you had only slowed down
to allow him to catch up, 
the conversation 
could have been had. 
But now, 
the situation is out of control. 
What were you wearing? 
And did you put it on
knowing that people
who dress like that
get treated like this? 
And yet, 
you still put it on. 
So you accepted the risk
of what was to come. 
You can’t hold him
responsible for what he’s done. 
We do not put heroes in jail. 
If they didn’t want to get shot, 
they shouldn’t have been born
Black and male. 
You can’t wear a dark hoodie
on a dark night
and have dark skin. 
Let’s lay fault 
at the victim’s feet
as we lay him to rest. 
Being born. 
Listed as the cause of death. 

© 12 June 2017

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Monday in a Picture – She’s GLOWing

Gender inequality is a major concern around the world. Swaziland is no exception. In 2010, PCVs decided to team up with Swazi counterparts to form girl’s empowerment clubs. The initiative was called GLOW, which stands for Girls Leading Our World.  The new clubs were modeled after other GLOW clubs started by PCVs and host country counterparts in various Peace Corps countries. 

This past weekend, I was privileged to attend a gala celebrating GLOW counselors from around Swaziland. GLOW counselors are typically Swazi women who are passionate about girl’s and women’s empowerment, gender equality, and related issues. They lead groups of girls through a curriculum covering lessons on sexual reproductive health, gender based violence, and financial literacy among other things. The gala honored all of the GLOW counselors in appreciation of the work that they have done. Some women told stories of how they came to be associated with GLOW, and their passion for the initiative. It was a truly remarkable experience. 

The amazing women pictured above are the leadership of GLOW in Swaziland. They include senior counselors and GLOW directors. 

Be kind to yourself. 
Onward. 

Ever wonder what is Kirby doing? Follow the blog!

Sweet Dreams – John Legend’s band

Because I am posted in a country where I might contract malaria, I have been given an antimalarial medication called, “Mefloquine”. One of the side effects of this medication is lucid dreaming. The following is what I dreamt last night (as best I can remember). 

We were all in a house. I was playing in a band. John Legend’s band. We were playing new material and it was really good. Crowds of people would gather at the house to watch us practice and vibe with us. I was so happy to be playing with John. We finally had a real show somewhere. We went and killed it. Women were throwing themselves at us. 

Fast forward some weeks later, we’re in the same house and it now has a recording studio. We’re going over some of our latest songs. We’re about to release an album. It’s going to be amazing. We’re so excited. We’re still relatively obscure. One of our guys ends up on the phone with one of Jay Z’s people trying to talk him out of releasing a double album before we release our album. It’s a double album with Wu Tang Clan, but it’s more than 2 CDs. It looks like an entire season of a tv show. Jay Z says that he’s releasing it anyway. I start talking to Jay Z and tell him that the new songs aren’t new and that we’ve heard it all before. I try telling him that he shouldn’t release the album because it’s not fresh. It falls on deaf ears. 

We leave the house to go do another show. Possibly an album release party. We agree not to sleep with any drunk women. As we’re walking to the car, we get lost at a campus that looks like Hogwarts. I try stopping a guy to ask for directions, but he points to his shirt. The shirt says, “Another dumb ass school that looks like Hogwarts”. 

Be kind to yourself. 
Onward.