The Fantastic Four!

Let me introduce you to my young photo prodigies, Mavis, Nthabisang, and Gerald.  I have been with them for three days now, and they are slowly stealing my heart.  We've had so much fun wandering around Mawewe finding photo subjects and playing with our cameras.  They are super sweet, eager to learn, and they are taking their photography course very seriously.  I absolutely love watching them in their elements, composing shots, posing their teachers, sharing what they have shot with their friends.  It's so cool to see, and I am so grateful that Mr. Sibuyi hand picked these three lovlies for me.  

Then there is Trevor.  I met him when I first arrived at Mawewe last week, he was tutoring a girl in the library.  He impressed me with his cobalt blue suit and deep pink button down shirt.  Every day he has been dressed to the nines, even though it is hot and horribly humid out.  I learned that he recently returned to his community after spending six years abroad in China at University.  He wanted to come back home to teach the children of his town how to excel in life and share his knowledge, yet he still has grand plans of more studies and changing the world.  When I told him what I was doing here, his eyes lit up and he wanted to be a part of it.  This made me feel so much better, as I now had someone I knew could carry on the program once I leave.  I've been giving him more detailed lessons about photography, as I know he will be able to relay the information well to future students.  

One of my teacher students Ntombi and I were standing out under the tree chatting today, and she looked at my shoes and said, "You must give me your shoes, I love them, you must give them to me...!"  I looked at her and smiled, and if they were any other shoes, I would have taken them straight off and passed them over, but they were my espadrilles from CapeTown and were my favorite shoes of all time.  Now, yes, I did feel guilty and selfish in not giving them to her, but I did promise that next time I came I would bring her some.  This pleased her and she said, "When are you coming back?!"  I asked her size, and jotted a mental note to get some espadrilles for Ntombi in a size 7.  Just then Trevor jumped in as well with "And you must bring me my nice camera!"  I looked at him, smiled, and motioned for him to follow me, leading him back to the library.  Reaching into my camera bag, I wasn't planning on leaving my G12 here, but this definitely felt right.  This camera was for Trevor, my gift to him for taking care of my program for me.  "Here, this is from me to you, I hope you enjoy it and learn a lot with it!"  "Ahhh, I will be taking five hundred photos today with this!"  He said, his smile wide and wrapped me in a hug.  He tells me, "The kids, they really love this; they are so motivated to learn and think this is the best! Thank you so much!"  Even though tomorrow will be my last day with Mawewe, I feel that I have at least created inspiration, and that, along with my heart felt hugs, is priceless.  

 

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Nevermind

"I used to wonder why my parents gave me my name",  he says to me after he introduces himself.  "But you know, I do not think it is a bad name anymore.  There is a meaning behind it that is important, and that is a good thing."  He explains to me how in his culture, when a baby is born, it is given a name according to what is going on with the parents at that very space in time.  If your father has just died, you might name your son after him and his name might be Earnest.  Say your uncle just gave you some tools to build a house and you are grateful for it, you might name your daughter Thankful.  But there are other names which are not so easy to figure out, like my friend here having a chat with me.  It is a very sweet story, how he figures out the origin of his name.  "You see,"  he says "there was a lot going on for my parents when I was born, a lot of things were wrong, and they were figuring out how to cope..."  He is smiling softly as he stands in my kitchen relaying his story to me, and I sense that he has overcome his own trials in his young life.  "So, when they had me, it was such a gift you know?  And they were feeling so blessed."  His smile widens and he continues, "So they just said 'never mind' to all of the bad!  Look, we are blessed with a son!  So you see, it is a positive name!"  And I do see, he too has said "never mind" to the negative out there, and has embraced the power of his name.  

(Oh, and then he tells me a funny story of how to get back at your neighbor by naming your dog something that will upset them... And I see that a name is not just a name in Shangaan!)