A Day in the Life of Allyn Writesel – Peace Corps Volunteer Swaziland

Hi everyone,
I’m very happy to bring to you all the below, which is a description of the day in the life of our very own Allyn Writesel. As many of you know, Allyn is one of our members who recently “re-upped” with Peace Corps to complete another tour of duty in Swaziland. She is amazing, and I, for one, am so inspired by her decision to serve again!
Sarah J.
Vice President
RPCVs of NENY
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       My day usually begins at 5am some days and 5:45am more often. The sun is up before 5am. I go to the outhouse behind my

Allyn Writesel in Swaziland.jpg

Allyn Writesel in traditional Swazi dress

house with my pee bucket and toilet paper in hand. Today, my host brother and his nephew were washing the truck at 5:30am.  So, I had to poop with those guys outside the outhouse. Swazis are very casual about elimination. I go into my house and eat the softest “brown” bread with peanut butter, honey and banana, and drink water. This morning I had conversations with my host son, age 6, in English through my kitchen window while washing my plate. I asked him why his parents hit him on 2 recent occasions. The hitting of children upsets me greatly here. Teachers hit in school, too. I watched as the children took turns standing up on a rolling barrel. I have to turn my head because of the potentially dangerous play I see my homestead kids engaging in. The kids are left alone all day with older sisters of 11 yo and adult uncle, aunt and grandfather are within shouting distance. Often, I see older kids 6 years old regulating the play of 5 year olds.
So, I half fill a small bucket to take a basin bath where I stand in an oval plastic basin and poor water on strategic essential body spots to wash, then rinse.  At training, in better lighting and hot water showers, I thought my leg had a large blood clot or I had Karposi’s sarcoma, an opportunistic infection symptomatic of AIDS; I was gonna die! Then, I scratched my leg and discovered DIRT!
I dress in the coolest cotton I could find hanging in the cloth wardrobe I assembled. No slip – too hot. Yesterday, I had a meeting with an inspiring young woman named Setsabile at my house. We put the fan on it was sooooo hot. Her youth group is Young People with Great Minds (YPGM). She uses her own (from dead father’s pension fund) and club money to help old infirm bedridden people. Group members do household chores like collecting wood for those who can’t.  I’m helping her plan a project through designing the project, listing the tasks and specifying the time line.
Some days my tutor comes to teach me SiSwati. Today I will walk to the 5 small stores a 15 minute walk from my house to the main road and center of town to buy potatoes, tomatoes, eggs, a light bulb and a can of Coke. I have my 1st visitor coming today. I’ll be cooking- a rare occurrence! In the evening, sometimes kids come to hang out on my porch. Some evenings on my way to the store I’ll go talk to my neighbor sister-in-law in English. I gave her medicine for her daughter who was having excruciating cramps and vomiting at the start of her period. I gave her an English Bible for Christmas and she was soooo happy!  We’re becoming friends.
Night comes and it is soooo hot. I turn on the outside light and June bugs or Christmas bugs come flying, so I close the windows. I’m breathing in the breeze from my back kitchen window. I assemble a tuna fish sandwich with mayonaise, tomato, lettuce and cheese and the softest “brown” bread. In the evening, I’m frequently on my WhatsApp communicating with Peace Corps Swaziland friends or friends back home.  I rarely read because bugs dive bomb my booklight. I lay on top of the sheet because it’s soooo hot! (Catching any themes here?)
One of my daily joys is hearing the cowbells and goat bells tinkle as the herders and their dogs slowly walk by on the dirt road past my house in the early morning and at dusk. Some herders wave to me at my kitchen window –  me in my nightgown. I herded goats off my front porch once when they took shelter there from the rain. I opened my front door to find them there unexpectedly!  Another time, I herded cattle back out of my yard when skinny hungry cattle squeezed through a narrow opening in our gate to eat the sparse shrubbed greenery in our yard.

                                                                                   -Allyn Writesel
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