Susanna (Stitch) Wolz
29yrs old, Australian. Volunteer for 2 weeks – December 2012
My host family consists of a mother and father and a relatively new born as well as a grandmother. At first they were a bit apprehensive to speak with me and kind of ignored me. I thought perhaps I was intruding or was unwelcome but after a few days and after I had learnt a few key phrases in Pakinyow (local dialect), now I am greeted with smiles and greetings every day. They are eager to feed me (as if I don’t eat enough here!), and they welcome me to their fires in the chilly morning, even though conversation is limited. I am glad I brought a few very small gifts with me and was able to give the girls bracelets, the boys some toy rubber duckys and some baby socks to the family which have came in handy in the chilly evenings!
The village children are lovely. I have visited them up at the school and watched them play, sing to the king in the afternoon and laugh at the ‘foreigners’. Yesterday I had one of my most favourite experiences – two girls around 9 and 4 came and sat next to me on my patio step while I was reading. The older one offered me bracelets with a big smile and I gave them some chocolate I had bought from top shop. I took their photo which they were delighted with and then wanted to look at all my photos and I let them flick through my iPhone images of the village, the elephants, the school children, the dogs and other animals and the other volunteers and staff. She didn’t say much but gave me big smiles and sat on my knee. The younger one toddled off but the older one sat with me and just smiled. I pulled out some of the notes I had made from our Pakinyow lessons and was able to offer limited conversation which made her smile.
It was really lovely and now, as I type this, three little boys who can’t be older than four or five and we have no idea where they have appeared from, have wandered into base camp which I haven’t seen them do before. They are putting together a puzzle with Gemma (staff) and Sue (volunteer), and are looking at picture cards and repeating everything that Gemma says, even when she asks them questions in Pakinyow which is pretty funny. Guess we have some work to do yet with pronunciation! J They are wandering around a little and then suddenly and just like that, they shake our hands and leave! It has made all of us smile and really serves to sum up the open, friendly and kind hearted nature of the people here. For me, it makes the whole experience so much better knowing we are welcome and not an imposition to be tolerated. They really make the experience here one to remember.