These last few weeks have been some of the strangest but most amazing times. Today we say goodbye to our host families, and I think that it is a bittersweet moment for all of us. Our lives are so different from theirs but both are equally rewarding. Chickens, dogs, and cats roam freely around the road I live on and in our house. My family’s house consists of two rooms, and the kitchen is a table and stove outside. In the mornings and afternoons my sisters go to school, my host mom works most of the day and my father spends alternating weeks guiding in Kirundi forest and being home. I do the dishes every day. In the evenings water from the ocean floods the roads and are around their houses knee deep and recedes by midday. I am so grateful to have had this time to live with them and I now truly consider many of my family members as friends which is something I wasn’t expecting to be able to do.
some moments of notice from my homestay experience:
When my host dad greeted me “My daughter!” when we first met, and when he said, to everyone we passed on the way home “this is my new daughter!”
How my eldest sister Chrystelle, (13 years old), always tries to carry my water for me, passes food to me as soon as I look at it, anticipates when I want to shower and fills the buckets for me, all while taking care of her three other sisters and sometimes cooking lunch and dinner.
How everyone in my family is so eager to learn english. My first night there, Chrystelle read through my entire english-malagasy book. Almost every evening we have a language session and family and neighbors all gather around a table, often by candle light or the light of a headlamp because the power goes out periodically, and translate phrases through french into malagasy or english for each other. Often aunts and uncles crowd around as well to listen. My father taught himself english because he needed it for his job and still listens to tapes of people speaking english and pours over his dictionary.
How one of the sentences that my cousin Kenny had us translate was “it is my dream to go on an airplane but I can’t because of my poverty.” I didn’t know how to respond but had to dictate this back to him because he wanted to know how to pronounce it. He told me that it was also his dream to go to America.
How my little sisters love to play in my room, do my hair, take pictures, dance around, and in one unfortunate scenario my three year old sister, Efraima, had a blast using my tooth brush.
When I was at the market with my host mom and she asked which of two pairs of pants I liked better but then bought both and gave them to me.
How my five year old sister, Azaria, ran back and forth from me to the snack stand at a concert making sure I always had a snack in my hand.
How my family gave me a room bigger than their rooms combined.
When my cousins made us get up and dance with them to the music they were blasting in our little living room and all of the other family members and friends gathered at the door and window to watch and laugh.
Now we part with these extremely kind, generous and observant people who have taken us in as daughters and sons, and leave Morondava.