Tuesday, February 23, 2010

An Ending and a Beginning

I was meaning to post a few light-humored words about the wild creatures that go bump in the night, but instead, I feel I have to interject with a quick and very heartening story that happened today.

Today, I was visited by my advisor from the PC, Lydia Webber. She made it out to my village to just check in and see how everyone was adjusting (myself as well as those I work and live with here in my village). Standard procedure for all new PCVs.

During her visit, she got a chance to speak with some co-workers of mine, one-on-one. I was Lydia’s last one-on-one. While we were chatting about life in my village (I really wish I could disclose the name of my village, but cannot on a public site for security reasons…), she mentioned to me something that someone else had just told her. She recounted a story of me that happened a few weeks ago.

A few weeks ago, I attended a funeral for the aunt of a friend of mine. The whole community came (they come to every funeral to show their support and condolences). A typical funeral takes place on a Saturday morning (early morning), which starts at the family’s house, then the walking procession takes us to the cemetery for the burial. All of this starts around 5am and usually ends around 9 or 10 in the morning. At the burial, when it’s time to bury the casket, all of the adult men, dressed in their best suits and shoes, take turns shoveling the dirt back into the grave. It takes quite some time, even with three or four shovels and several men rotating when they tire. All this time, the women and standing men passionately sing song after song until the men are finished shoveling the last of the dirt. I had always watched this happen, being one of the standing men, humming along to the tunes I started becoming familiar with from the several funerals I had been to (I think the count is around 15-20 as a guess so far). This time, something felt different, and I lined up; when the opportunity arose, I stepped into the dirt pile and started shoveling.

After the funeral was over, the day went by and eventually the weeks did, too. I didn’t think much of it, really, since no one had approached me about it. Today, what this person told Lydia is that that particular moment was the turning point in my relationship with my village, where I showed the community that I accepted them and was a part of their community, and that they, too, accepted me into their community. I was told that that was the moment of my new relationship with the people I live with--picking up a shovel and participating with my hands and body to bury a fellow community member.

It wasn’t the morning greetings in the street on my walk to school. It wasn’t the tea that I made for guests to my house. It wasn’t my ability to speak Setswana. It was something that I thoughtlessly stepped into because it just seemed like the right moment. That’s pretty incredible to me. And very  humbling. I just wanted to share that with you. Salang Sentle—Stay Well

Friday, February 12, 2010

A Peace Corps Volunteer Fundraising Marathon – Please Help Our Cause!


Hello family, friends, and those random passers-by on the Interweb!

This coming March 27th, 2010, I will be joining dozens of other Peace Corps Volunteers in the eastern province of Mpumalanga (in South Africa) for the 6th annual Longtom Marathon/Half-marathon hosted by the KLM Foundation (www.KLM-foundation.org), founded by two former Peace Corps Volunteers.


And I’m asking for your help! Please consider the impact of a simple contribution! A small amount of US Dollars can go very far in the education of a child here in South Africa.


What It’s All About:

The KLM Foundation is a scholarship and leadership development program that provides superior secondary education for young girls and boys from previously disadvantaged, rural communities in the Mpumalanga Province of South Africa. KLM was created to redress the impact of apartheid on South Africa’s educational system.

Last year, the KLM foundation raised about $15,000 through this event, and we are hoping to exceed that this year. One of the great things about donating to this particular cause is that I can assure you that your donation is going directly to fund the education of a deserving child.

For more information, please see the KLM Website or the KLM newsletter (at the bottom of this blog).


Why Me?

I am currently training for the half-marathon here in my village. I am running for three reasons:


Matson&Preschoolers (240x180)

1) To show my support and acknowledge that children from disadvantaged areas still have just as much potential and just as much right to further their education and make a difference in this world.

Empowering children from a rural community to succeed and then come back to empower future generations is an incredible thing. I’ve seen it happen in my village.


P1100056 (240x180)

2) To get your support, too! Please help with any donation you feel comfortable making!






P1100377 (240x180)3) To stay in shape! And, promote healthy lifestyles through running and exercise in my village. I’ve got a great team of elementary, middle, and high school kids training with me every day at 5pm for 1-2 hours!




Why You?

Please think of a reason to take 5 minutes to contribute.


How to Donate:

There are two ways to donate. You can donate any amount (it can be $100 or even just $5). Any amount helps!

  • Online: visit www.klm-foundation.org and click the photo where it says Donate. This will bring you to a secure http connection. Then, be sure to include my name (Matson Contardo) in the Longtom Marathon field.


  • Check: Make out a check to: Kgwale Le Mollo (US)

Put a post-it note saying the donation is in your name with the check.

Mail it to:

KLM Foundation (US)

c/o Bowen Hsu

461 So. Bonita Avenue

Pasadena, CA 91107



P1100070 (240x180) P1090700 (240x180) (240x180)P1100369 (240x180) P1100356 (240x180)


KLM Website:

Check out www.KLM-foundation.org (great website with a lot of information)


KLM Holiday 2009 Newsletter:

(I realize it’s a bit small and difficult to read, but this blog editor does not allow me to post PDFs. You can try clicking on the photo below to open a larger version or email me and I will send you the original PDF, which is much easier to read.)

Holiday_Flyer_2009,_FINAL (25Nov09)



Thank you, again.◊ Salang Sentle—Stay Well