Rain Down On Me - Angie's Peace Corps (Namibia) Adventure
Feb. 24th, 2006
01:47 pm - Rain Down On Me
Rewind to yesterday. It was a pretty good day. We did home-based care visits for most of the morning & early afternoon. We started around 9am and finished a little before 2 pm. We walked quite a few miles, though I really don’t have a sense of just how many. It’s no wonder I’ve lost a good 10 pounds since I arrived in Namibia, and particularly since I arrived in Gibeon. But more on that later.
It didn’t seem like it was too sunny & it surely wasn’t as hot as it’s been on most other days but somehow I managed to get red, the shade of which resembles a cute little tomato (just like the ones I have at home right now). I was wearing a tank top so my shoulders, neck, part of my upper chest (low cut shirts are something I don’t do here in Namibia, for obvious reasons), and my arms got burned. I was wearing a hat so my head & face didn’t get fried. Thank goodness. The strange thing is that I didn’t feel myself getting burned. It wasn’t until it started pouring heavily on us that I realized I was burned because the drops falling on me hurt. I will try harder to not forget to put on sunblock next time. I don’t usually get sunburned that intensely, but then again we were out there for a good 4 hours. By the way, Gibeon is not very heavily populated but boy oh boy is everything heavily spread out. I felt like we walked forever.
So the rain…It was a cold heavy rain with heavy drops. The rain began toward the end of our little tour, so I was tired. Despite this, getting caught in the rain was enjoyable. Back at home, generally we run from the rain or we find ways to take shelter so we don’t get rained on. But here I was in the middle of an old dirt hill & there was no place for me to run to for shelter or no umbrella for me to pull out. And so I walked calmly, ran a bit here & there, & enjoyed the heck out of the moment. It was therapeutic. I’ve only walked in the rain once before (back at home) & there is something beautiful about it. Yeah, you might get sick from doing so & then remaining in your drenched clothes, but ehh oh well.
School had just been let out so I got to witness all these kids running through the fields, trying to get home before becoming fully drenched. It was cute seeing all these kids running every which way, screaming, laughing, and saying “hello miss” as they ran past us. By the time Mother Nature had finished putting on her act, I had ran through puddle after puddle, gotten splashed with mud in various places, and done some incredible balancing acts over rocks & stepping stones while trying to make our way up & down the little hills. I was completely drenched- from head to toe, and inside & out. When the rain stopped, it felt…a little cold. But there was just something calming about watching the sky turn from sunny & blue to grey, to watch the nurturing raindrops fall onto the dry ground. Mother Nature is amazing & she holds the power to make things bettter, or to make them worse. We oughta be good to her. I guess if I had to pick just one word to describe the moment yesterday it would have to be “romantic”. Mother Nature apparently wanted to dance & romance with me, she got her way, and I enjoyed it. Of course, throughout all of this I had DMB's 'JTR' playing in my head :) "Rain, rain, rain down on me...Again & again..."
At 4pm I was supposed to meet with the teacher in charge of the HIV/AIDS club at the private high school to go meet with the club. The meeting was cancelled due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control. I was relieved because I was dead tired by that time & the walk to-and-from the school is a long one. Still, a part of me was bummed out because I wanted to see the kids again. Last week was the first time I met them, and it was only their second meeting thus far. I forgot to talk about this in my previous journals. It was extremely interesting & FUN to hear what the kids have to say about all things related to HIV/AIDS.
If you all don’t mind I’d like to share something now that was brought up during the meeting. I had to try my damn hardest not to bust out laughing or smile too widely but it was a combination of hilarity & adorable-ness & oh-my-goodness. Well we are dealing with HIV/AIDS which is very directly related to sex, so sex is in one way or another always part of the conversation. So we were talking about the ABC’s of sex (Abstain, Be faithful, Condomize). At this particular moment we were talking about abstinence and things you can do to abstain- what are other things we can do besides have sex. Now remember I’m still getting used to talking about all these things with kids this age, kids I don’t know on a personal level, and kids from a different culture. Some things I hear still take me a second to process. I wasn’t leading the discussion at the moment (thank God!).
Sooooo the subject of masturbation came up. One of the kids brought it up as an alternative to having sex. This is where it gets to the point where you have to hold on really tight… Some of the kids HONESTLY did not really understand what masturbation was. I know you’re thinking that it was probably some kid being a clown, but no. There are a couple boys in there who are clowns, but they weren’t the ones who seemed to be confused on this subject. There were like 25 kids there, but there were just these 2 or 3… it seems like masturbation was a foreign concept to them. One of them is a very religious young girl, very quiet & shy, very wait-till-marriage point of view, and I certainly believe & can understand her maybe not knowing what the heck they were talking about. So someone actually had to explain what was meant by masturbation. I thought I was going to burst. As if that wasn’t enough, one of the kids said “but doesn’t that damage your private parts, if you do it too rough or too much?”. OH MY GOD!!!!!!!!!!! And they were dead serious, this was not one of the kids being a smart-ass. OH MY GOD, again. I had to do my best to control all the things I had going through my head. The saddest part of this, is that I could tell that it was really a foreign concept to some of these kids, yet some of these kids are the very ones who are sexually involved already. You just want to shake your head and grab them by the shoulders and give them a little shake & say “oh my God you don’t even know your own body, you have not explored your own feelings & your own body, yet you are sexually involved with others?!?! Do you even know what you’re doing or what any of this is supposed to feel like?”. I’m just thinking that particularly some of these girls, they must be in some ways getting physically hurt when they’re having sex. Oh man oh man oh man is all I could think. Sex can wait, masturbate! Lol…I’m laughing now but this is some serious stuff. It’s a serious problem. How can they explore with another person if they’ve not even explored on their own. That’s not a good sign of what must be happening when they DO get involved.
It’s a difficult position to be in because we want to help these kids & be there for them but every now & then the adult in us is going crazy inside & wants to jump out and give them a little shake and say “no no no what are you doing?!”. But we have to be so careful with how we handle these things, otherwise we will push these kids away. And I don’t want to do that, to do what almost every other adult in their lives has done to them. They have to be able to trust SOMEONE. That’s the problem here. Sex is such a taboo subject. Adults don’t want to talk to kids about this stuff. All the adults have to say is that these kids should not be involved. But where does that leave the kids? One kid mentioned that his mom found a condom in his pocket & got extremely upset with him “for doing all those things already”. Those who want to be involved will do so anyways, and then they have absolutely NO ONE to turn to for guidance. It’s the problem with getting condoms here too. The kids usually don’t have money to buy them. They can get them for free at the clinics or at hospitals but when they go there, the staff will often question them on why they want the condoms, why they’re doing this or that, and telling them they’re too young, and what and what and what. (for explanation of and what and what and what, see ‘Angie’s Afrikaans/ English Dictionary’ entry). This pushes the kids away, makes them feel guilty, and keeps them from trying to get condoms. It’s a big problem, and this is why I and the other adults who are willing to take on the role need to mostly listen, counsel, and advise, but as much as possible hold in those thoughts that want to sometimes just jump out. The kids need to have an adult figure that they can be open with. They have so many questions, they need so much guidance.
Anyways, that was last week. The kids were really happy to see me there, I guess because I’m young they take to me easily. They have someone that they know can understand them a lot better than most other adults. I’m most definitely looking forward to next week!
At 1,712 words (According to my good friend, Microsoft Word), that's all I've got to say for right now. It's at 1,733 now. Cheers. 1,744.