Saturday, March 20, 2010

Sawubona and Hamba Kahle

Sawubona and Hamba Kahle. In Zulu, it's hello and goodbye. That's what our entire trip to South Africa felt like: a series of hellos and quick goodbyes. We encountered so many incredible people in such a short span of time, even interviewed many of them, but then it was on to the next location, the next interview, the next person...Our crew talked a lot about how and when we're supposed to process everything we've seen. Back in the US, in "reality" as it is, routine will just go back to normal. Work, errands, out for drinks with friends, but I can't pretend I'm the same person.

The little girl who was in tears telling us about her mother who died of AIDS, the desperate mothers with HIV positive babies at the AIDS clinic, the blind Zulu boy who may never get treatment for his condition, the family in the mud hut relying on a 63 year-old grandmother to support them, the songs sung by the St. Leo's kids, the tireless work of the Augustinian volunteers, the truck piled with coffins on the road to Pomeroy...As I slip back into my life here, these aren't memories that will quickly fade. I'm not sure how I've changed yet, what impact these images will have as I go on with my life, and it may take some time to figure it all out.

Despite the pain and hardships faced by so many in Africa, the people are vibrant, the landscape is beautiful and it's a continent that literally calls you back. I've never felt so drawn to a place, felt so strongly a need and desire to return. I'm keeping some Rand (South African money) in my wallet; I just have a feeling someday I'll need it again...

For now, however, the post-production work begins. I'm lucky in that I get to relive the experience, in a way. My job is to transcribe all of the 20 plus hours of footage, an arduous task for sure, but also a chance to revisit the people and places on our journey. I can't wait to see them all again, and for you all to meet them too.

So hamba kahle for now South Africa, I hope we'll say Sawubona again soon...

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