It’s been a very long week. It’s only Monday.

After finding the house of our dreams, Tonya and I moved in on Thursday to a gorgeous 3 bedroom home in Bez Valley, JHB. Long left behind are the days of maneuvering around each other in our small 1 bedroom cottage. Past are the days of having picnics in someone else’s yard. Ancient history is the idea of cleanliness.

Let me explain.

You want me to clean WHAT?

While stunning, the new house was left behind in a horrid state. Tonya and my mantra has become, “how could anyone live like this?” while dragging out boxes and garbage bags of rubbish. The previous tenant left the house full of broken kids toys, nasty filth everywhere (yes, we even found feces – hopefully dog – in the small cottage out back), and a layer of nasty on the walls, countertops, and floors. It took Ton and I, along with the assistance of a couple friends, about 4 days to get it to the point where we weren’t wincing each time we walked into a room. Ewwww!!!

So all that’s now left of it’s former nasty glory is a pile the size of a small room along the side wall outside – waiting for the trash collector to come. We’ve also been promised full carpet cleaning and newly installed pallisade fencing (for added security) from the rental agency. Slowly Tonya and Amber’s New Home is taking shape.

And we’re thrilled.

As mentioned, the place is huge. One bedroom for each of us, an office for both, and a massive backyard complete with a peach tree, a pear tree, and what looks like a gooseberry tree! There is a garage as well as a servant’s quarters/cottage and outdoor plumbed bathroom in the back. While i would love to convert the space into a photo darkroom, Ton and I are currently negotiating the possible necessity to rent the space out for about $100. We’ll see what wins in the end – dream photo studio or practical financial concerns. Hmmm… You know what I’m voting for! 😉

Work is okay. Well, not really. Truthfully, it’s been really quite rough. While I’ve never been totally passionate about working in a labour organisation (i’m more of a women’s rights/poverty issues kinda gal) it was nice working for my current organisation due to the rapport that the staff had. Under the previous director the whole place functioned like a big happy family (complete with hair pulling and long bathroom lines – ha ha, just kidding!). The organisation has been steadily falling apart as staff members slowly leave and the work piles up. The new director is not very consciencious and people are getting fed up – the problems are too numerous to mention. I don’t honestly know anyone in the organisation right now who isn’t/hasn’t been sending out their CVs in pursuit of greener pastures. This includes the woman that i’m here to train/capacity build.

And so greener pastures also await me.

I’ll be moving into a new position, hopefully in October, with an HIV/AIDS organisation. The Canadian organisation I’m working with (funding my placement) has already agreed that I’m to be the next “Multi-country HIV/AIDS Network Coordinator”. OooohhH!!! Ahhh!! Such a powerful title!

So what does it mean?

What this means is that I’ll be in a position to monitor and evaluate much of the programming that is currently in existence throughout selected countries in Africa (Ghana, Mozambique, Burkina Faso, Tanzania, and South Africa) and see where there is a need for further networking and capacity building.

But what does it really mean?

I get to tool around Africa, meet new people, write up reports, and make recommendations on training and network establishment. Plus, I get to move out of labour and into HIV/AIDS, something that is far closer to my heart, and, as I see, far more necessary on a continent crippled by the disease. Who will go on strike if there are no more workers alive?

So that’s the long and short of it all. Things are definitely looking brighter.

I’m also helping out quite a bit with a couple of the projects that Tonya’s working on in the meantime. I’m the regular photographer for the performances of Alertos Da Vida, a really cool group of Mozambican youths who perform plays about HIV/AIDS and other human rights issues. I’m also helping out with the design and publicity of their various products (including spending a day with the kids tie-dying promotional tshirts! FUN!). The WITS University Gay and Lesbian Archives group has also asked me to help out with some publicity for their latest book that they’re trying to get into schools – mostly about how gay and lesbians are people too and that, as they say, “we’re everywhere”. It’s been busy, to say the least!!

But with a new castle in which to reside, and great work on the horizon as well as in the present, my spirits are flying high and flapping joyously in the South African spring winds and are as colourful as a newly dyed tshirt.

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