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Just another day in the Peace Corps: my school’s fridge is being held hostage

Peace Corps Volunteers all over Africa love sharing TIA stories (#TIA). TIA means “This is Africa”, which entails every random, absolutely ridiculous, bizarre and hilarious thing we see or experience. Nothing can explain the odd things we experience except…THIS. IS. AFRICA.

The one day I wasn’t at school last week and instead attended Paige’s Grassroot Soccer training, an EPIC TIA moment happened at my school.

Our fridge hadn’t been working. My school’s security guard mentioned it to someone in the community he knows can fix appliances. The man showed up to my school unannounced, fixed the fridge without even consulting my principal or anyone else. After he fixed the fridge, he demanded 800 Rand (equivalent to 80 USD, but that’s a lot of money here) from her. My principal is an intelligent and stern lady, and can tell right from wrong in an instant. She questioned why she should be paying him 800 Rand when:
1) She didn’t consult him to fix the fridge.
2) She never got a quote from him and others.
3) He did it without her permission.

So, the man did what any normal and logical handy man would do. Him and his friend picked up our fridge and lugged it off school grounds, across the street and somewhere to the top of my village. Teachers and learners apparently could see this site through the windows (WHY DID I MISS THIS DAY?!)

During morning meeting on Friday, I heard a bunch of Zulu, “iFridge” and “Simpiwe” (the school security guard), and looked over to see a bare wall in the kitchen. I thought it had been taken for repairs. Later, my counterpart told me/translated the whole story; I couldn’t stop laughing.

OH – and I must mention that this is the ONE week, the ONE week, during my service where I actually needed to use the school’s fridge. I needed the fridge to store polony (gross, I know) for the kid’s lunch at my Grassroot Soccer Camp this week. Oh, you know, but the one time I need the fridge, it’s being held hostage. No big deal. No big deal at all.

I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried. This is just one example of the absolutely ridiculous things we experience here. But, at least every time I think about this story I laugh out loud. A sense of humor is mandatory as a PCV…

I’ll let you know when the fridge makes a triumphant comeback to my school.

Yours in service,
Small heartLiz

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