Day 42 – The end of the beginning

Posted 14 July 2010 | Journal   

Ah what a solemn day. It was actually beautiful. I woke to an empty room, having packed my bags the previous night. This evening, I told myself, I’ll be sleeping in a different bed.

We worked the morning as usual. The guys at Lief en Leed didn’t question why I was shaking their hands instead of just waving goodbye. “See you tomorrow!” one of them said. I replied with a laugh, “Who knows, maybe you won’t.”

The weekly meeting was tense. Quite a few people had been given warnings over the last week or two, and there were issues that needed to be raised. Largely staying quiet, I contributed my thoughts to a discussion or two. Meanwhile, I observed everybody and wondered whether I should take the next step. At the end of the meeting I took the supervisor to the side and explained what I was about to do. Not much explanation was needed, she understood. I then stood in front of the other 15 volunteers and the newly appointed deputy supervisor (the other having just resigned) and announced: “I’m leaving the programme.”

I spent the rest of the day almost in a state of euphoria. As though a burden had been lifted from my chest. Some expressed their concern, and numerous conversations followed. They convinced me to stay that night and leave the following day, just so we could spend some time together before I disappeared.

That afternoon’s holiday programme was quite surreal. Like the instance when one of the guys goes “Hey, why is that chicken crossing the road?” as we watched a chicken quite literally run across the road. I enjoyed a game of football with the kids, and someone whispered in my ear “you’re going to miss them.” I felt as though I’d already left.

We had a get together at our house, all of the volunteers came to say goodbye. That night a smaller group of us sat around the fire and, for the first time in such a context, we really engaged with each other’s emotions. We even had a “Name one thing you’re going to miss and one thing you’re not going to miss about Usayd” followed by me having to do the same for all of them. It was one of the best nights I had in Mamre, its funny what it took it to happen.

I arranged for my things to be taken to Cape Town that night. No more delay, it’s time to move onto the next chapter of this trip.

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