Saturday, September 11, 2010

It Takes A Village

Yesterday I seriously considered switching host families.

Not because of the family itself. The couple I live with, Worfa and Victoria, are amazing!

* Just a side not about Worfa's name: The -or stands for a letter in the Ewe alphabet that looks like a backwards c and make simply an "au" sound. Also the W is basically silent, so his name is pronounced "Ofa." *

They've been very welcoming and kind, and have done everything possible to make me feel comfortable. My motivation for wanting to switch was purely about location. My house is on the very edge of Aflao. I have to walk 40 minutes to and from the orphanage 4 times a day- once there in the morning, home for lunch, back from lunch, back home in the evening- or pay for a taxi. This is within my abilities of course, but not very practical. Especially when there was a potential opening at a house literally next door to the orphanage- which incidentally would also situate me much closer to central Aflao, the beach, and the other volunteers.

I talked it over with Julia when we met at the beach yesterday evening, and I fully intended to speak with Sylvester, my program coordinator, about it today. It was pouring when we left to go home. Naturally the only taxi I could catch was a motorbike, so of course I was soaked by the time I'd reached the other side of town. I was also wearing my glasses, which got wet and fogged up. I stumbled home blindly and walked inside. Before I could even wipe my glasses to see clearly, I heard a chorus of "Yevu!" "Katherine!" "Woezor!" "How are you?" "Welcome!" and something attached itself to my knees.

When I cleared my glasses, I realized that all our neighbors had gathered to watch Worfa and Victoria's TV. People come over all the time to watch it in any weather- it's quite the social asset!- but especially when it rains and they can't sit outside. About a half dozen women and their large assortment of children, most of whom are already familiar to me, were huddled in the living room, trying to hear the movie over the noise of the rain pounding on the metal roof. Lucky, our neighbor's one-year-old daughter, had immediately toddled over and grabbed my legs by way of greeting.

Something about that moment struck me. I had the profound realization:
I'm home.

There's not a single doubt in my mind now that I can't switch houses. My fate was sealed when the women finally left and they all called goodbye to me and shook my hand. I'm part of their community now. I've been adopted by a half dozen foster mothers. The neighborhood kids follow me and grab my hands when I walk, and I know their names. In truth, I should've known I was where I'd stay when Sylvester and I were going to leave for the festival this past weekend and Victoria said both jokingly and sincerely,

"Stay here! Where could you possibly be going? You're aready home!"

Rain coming in off the Atlantic

No comments:

Post a Comment