Nov 16

“Love only exist in the western world”

Two days ago I was about to buy some water just outside my house when one random guy just said, “hey, I want to talk with you”, just like that. So I went to him and his two friends and we talked for a long time, a conversation about culture differences and many questions on how it works in our respective country. And we talked a lot about marriage, sex and those things. He asked me if I was married and then later on when I should marry. I answered that “it will happen when I fall in love with the right one”. His response to that was “I think the thing about love is something you know about in the western world, we don´t have it here”.

 

What do you respond to that? My instinct is that, no, love is something you live with automatically here, because you take care of each other so much. But of course he meant in marriage. When we marry and Sweden it must feel right and it´s strange if the couple only has been together for less than 2 years. Here, generally, people just marry. The love is created as the marriage goes on. And I mean, if you hang out everyday for several years, you probably going to start to like each other. And the interesting thing is that when you look to divorce statistics, in Sweden 47 % of marriages end up in divorce. Divorces are extremely come there but not here, and of course it has partly to do with gender inequality.

 

But if you look to the children it gets more interesting. Mental illness isvery low in Tanzania and very high in Sweden and it´s particularly high for adopted children and divorce children. That means that a child, generally, feels better when the parents stick to the marriage. In that sense I think we have ran so fast that we are now behind.

 

http://www.therichest.com/rich-list/the-biggest/10-countries-with-the-highest-divorce-rates/

http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Marriages_and_births_in_Sweden#High_number_of_divorces
Att skiljas är att dö en smula…: Skilsmässa och psykisk ohälsa hos svenska kvinnor och män. MICHAEL GÄHLER. Sociologisk Forskning. Vol. 36, No. 4 (1999), pp. 4-39

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1jhO1sTKFEwgNjN7k-iC1dJQWNk_gH1K_vg_B76eUTvM/edit#gid=0

http://fof.se/tidning/2006/5/sen-adoption-kopplad-till-psykisk-ohalsa

http://www.commonwealthhealth.org/africa/united_republic_of_tanzania/mental_health_in_united_republic_of_tanzania/

http://www.livlinan.org/psykisk-oh%C3%A4lsa/psykisk-oh%C3%A4lsa-och-diagnoser.html

Nov 16

The trampoline

The second day upon our arrival we visited the surrounding towns and went among others to the hospital that the diocese runs. There we greeted the librarian of the school, she was sick and had been that for a while. I was thinking that it only should take some days before she came back to school. But she didn´t, she had a tough cancer and on the following Saturday she passed away at the age of 40, leaving a couple of two year old twins with a sick father behind.

 

When I started grade 7 I began a new school with football specific. I had had two amazing years behind med, my two most social years so far in life and I had quite much self-confidence. Two weeks into the term all of it was gone, taken away from me because I was so vulnerable for being ignored. After two weeks everything I built up was gone, and the following months should be the personally toughest in my life, not because lack of water, food, a good house or any materialistic thing. It was because I was so ignored in school and felt so lonely that I started to reflect about how life after this should be.

 

The librarian died on a Saturday morning. A few hours later almost 50 people had gathered at her house to sorrow and support each other and especially the closest ones, they spent three days at the house to be with the family. The funeral was on the Sunday the day after and then almost 500 people had made it possible to come. The burden was carried together.

 

During the worst period that autumn there were two people who carried me and saved me. And the interesting thing is that they didn’t know it themselves. They carried my burden just throughout being with me and making me feel like a person. But in doing so they helped me carry that burden.

 

Tough things we all meet, no matter where in the world we are. The difference is how to rise up. In Sweden and many western societies we are assumed to climb up by ourselves or take help from one, two or three other friends, like it was for me. We reduce the fall as much as possible so we don´t need to fight so hard to get up. In this culture it´s more that the community of people creates a big trampoline that you fall down on and the harder and

Nov 16

Who owns you?

Today at lunch Tova showed some pictures of her friends for one of the teachers at the school. After a while Tova´s boyfriend came up and the teacher said “Aha, so that´s the owner of you” and as the Swedes we are we reacted directly on that statement. Tova said that he definitely not owned her and that you can never own a human being. The teachers continued and said that you own each other in a marriage and talked about the language issue, you say “It´s my wife/husband” in the same way as you say “It´s my pen”.

 

When it comes to owning and having things, what is the definition. Everything you own can be taken away from you, no matter if it´s your husband or your pen. So in one way, do we own anything at all? The saying that we are just here for the moment, borrowing things is quite beautiful I think.

 

But I also feel owned. Because if it was not for my fellow human-beings I would be completely nothing. If I was about to be a completely independent person feeling that I owned myself I would have died in the forest, not more than some days old. And what is the difference when you get older? If I don´t have my friends, or the society that is built by humans, or my enemies I would be nothing, once again. And do I own myself if I have to rely on others to survive? I don´t think so and I don´t see the problem with it. We own each other as sisters and brothers of the human race.

Nov 16

You can miss things, but you cannot miss people

Today I had my first relaxed morning here in Tanzania, so I woke up at 9 and then Tova was still asleep. I went out in our garden and took a cup of coffee. I brought my computer and 4-5 books, thinking that I should read and write some. It took around 30 seconds, and then one pupil came and said “let me company you, I see you´re sitting alone”.

 

The expression in the title wasn´t only a thing two of the teachers told me, it is really something in the culture. The other evening I had slept during the afternoon and just wanted to take a walk. That occasion I made 50 meters before I was stopped by first, 5 students, and after a while they were around 15. That time we talked for half an hour, and then we got interrupted and could no longer talk.

 

To have time with oneself is very difficult here, because people run into our house all the time, either for hanging or to see how we are. Last week we both were sick and then people passed by the whole time and asked how we were, discussed different ways of treatment and they recommended us to go out and play football or do some kind of exercise. Because when you play football, you get happy… I am thinking if some of my friends ever passed by my house just to see how I am when I´ve been sick and I don´t think I´ve done it myself either.

 

Imagine if we all treat each other like this, that the most important thing in our life is to take care of our fellow human beings. Then I am certain that much fewer would have these insane mental disorders and we would be much happier. It´s a difficult thing to measure mental illness but it´s without any doubt one of the biggest problems in Sweden. Many have eating disorders, many are bullied in school, many are stressed and many have just a lack of socialness in their life. So when it comes to the social part, according to me Sweden is the “developing” country and Tanzania is the “industrialized”.

Nov 16

Karibu (again)

This I wrote firstly as an introduction. Because of special circumstances (forgotten user name) I will from now on write here. And there will be many posts in the beginning with texts I wrote quite long time ago. So sometimes it´s not so logical,

Welcome to my and my friend Tova´s travelling blog in Tanzania. We are about to take of for a four-month period in the beautiful countryside of Karagwe in northwest of Tanzania. There we will live and work at a boarding school called KARASECO (Karagwe secondary school). We are sent from Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) via Church of Sweden and specifically Diocese of Västerås, which is a sister Diocese to Karagwe Diocese that will be our hosts. On this blog we will continuously update you about what we´re experiencing and reflections on things we see and experience.

 

And who am I then? My name is August (or Ngwato if you are from South Africa) and I am a quite multidimensional person with many balls in the air. I am born and raised in Uppsala, which is where I come from. But the first thing I did after finishing secondary some years ago was to move where I have my roots, in south of Sweden. I found peace in myself down there which made me wanting to explore the world and my surroundings even more so after my time there I spent a spring in Florens, Italy learning Italian. I took a trip across Europe during that summer and when the fall came, I travelled to South Africa through the exchange program Young in the world wide church. That was last autumn and this year I have lived in Västerås studying, working and giving lectures about my experience in South Africa. And now another adventure lies ahead in Karagwe.

 

My relation with God and the church has oscillated through my life from something I was almost forced to have, to something I hated, to something that is my life. Many people from the culture I come from dislike church, God and spirituality. My opinion is that at least spirituality is necessary for a happy life. It doesn’t necessarily need to be religion but it facilitates to be able to connect with people independent who you are and where you come from when you can do it through God and religion.

 

Another thing that can connect people from different backgrounds, status and so on is football. That silly sport where 22 people hunt and kick a little ball has given my life so much peace, strength and happiness. I would not have been who I am if it wasn’t for football, my coaches and my teammates. And as the plan looks now, a big part of my job in KARASECO will be connected with that silly sport. It is almost like a dream to occupy myself with the two things in life I love most, football and Christianity.

 

Why do I like meetings and connection with people so much? I am sure that the world becomes a much better place after every humble conversation and meeting, especially with the people one think is different. At the school I attended grade 7-9 I had quite a tough period, especially in the beginning and many of the bad things I was exposed for were made out of immigrants. If it was not for that I had three of my best friends since earlier being immigrants my brain had without a doubt concluded that immigrants are bad people. I am forever grateful for those three people and all my meetings that have made me understand differences a little bit better.

 

I tend to draw things in the greater perspective, and sometimes I believe that I philosophize more than I actually do things. But I still hope that I contribute to some people’s well-being. And as long as I can do that I will remain happy.