Thursday, February 7, 2013

I'm Lucky to Have Three Fathers

It is my host father, Ntate Thembisili (Ntate Thembi is his nickname), who keeps me positive when life as a PCV gets tough. Ntate Thembi knows how to speak to me in Sesotho (slowly and by using simple words); we can speak in Sesotho for hours and understand each other. A conversation with Ntate Thembi will never fail to put me in a good mood.

I do feel fortunate to have and African father in addition to my 'real' father and my step-father. Because all three of the fathers in my life are good, honest, hard-working men, that support me and are proud of me. All three fathers encourage me to 'keep my head up', loan me money when I get short, brag about me to their friends, and are ultimately good role-models for people they know.

Ntate Thembi owns a shop in Ha Makoae, is the community livestock veterinary, and is an active member of the church and is also on the board of directors for the Secondary School. He mediates when people have issues and he always makes people around him feel comfortable. He is a giant  Xhosa man and has a kind wife and 6 children including me. He lets his children do whatever they want, leaving them to get into trouble and then he beats them as discipline. Luckily, I stay out of trouble and remain the spoiled child.

Ntate Thembi cares about people around him. I used to think it was just me who he handed cans of fish for free from his shop, but I also see him giving bags of maize meal and oil to people in need. When my house was leaking, Ntate Thembi ordered men to repair my roof in a thunderstorm. When my dog was repeatedly sick, he would inject and give medicine to my dog. He would always tell me "Don't worry, Paly (my nickname in Sesotho), if this dog dies, I will buy you a big beautiful one". When my dog did eventually die from being poisoned, he gave me his dog. Unfortunatly, the dog he gave me got poisoned 3 weeks later. However, Ntate Thembi still didn't get down on the community for poisoning my dogs over jealousy. Instead he invited me to a community meeting where he re-explained my purpose as a volunteer so people understood that I was truly here to be a part of the community. He also added that I had been sewing jewelry and clothes by hand, resulting in all the women from the community meeting asking to see my work and requesting a hand-sewing club. Currently, our Ha Makoae Sewing Club is thriving.

Ntate Thembi and his wife 'M'e Nosi are truly kind people and throughout the two years I've been in Lesotho, they have always supported me. When times have been hard for me, I go to their shop and chat. When I think about my time in Lesotho coming to an end, I think of my family here and I know it is going to be difficult to say goodbye. Having African parents in Peace Corps is proof that people can live together peacefully in a foreign environment and love each other like family dispite any language or cultural barriers.

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