Palala Girls and Boys Clubs joined forces to hold their end of year ceremony and Brandon and Rachel's farewell. It was a marvelous event that drew in villagers from all over Kgobagodimo to celebrate the accomplishments of their children and to recognize the sparkle, creativity, hard work, and friendship that Brandon and Rachel brought to their community. I felt honored to witness this community's love for Brandon and Rachel, and to know that their names (Thabiso and Koketso in Sepedi) will live on, even after they have left.
The teachers singing their goodbyes to Brandon and Rachel
The following week, we held the Palala North Girls Club end of the year ceremony in Seleka. Joining us for the event were Peace Corps friends, Gregor, Marguerite, and Joey, and the Kgobagodimo contingency of Brandon, Rachel, Maam Ditsela, Maam Tema, (Palala Girls Club Leaders) and Mr. Kgomo (the Klipspruit Primary Principal). The day was filled with speeches, singing, and dancing. The singing and dancing hit a high note when we received a surprise visit from some Grade R (kindergarten) students who performed for us. The crowd went wild!
Girls watching the Grade R dancers
Paul had put together a photo slideshow of the year. Although I had seen it about 10 times before the ceremony, I still had a few tears in my eyes watching the girls and parents get such enjoyment from seeing themselves, or their children, and all they had done in the last six months. It was a moment where I realized that technology can be such a gift---putting together a simple slideshow enabled us all to celebrate the 'Best of PNGC' as one community. Although it was bittersweet seeing the girls finishing up the program and preparing to move into new schools, it was exciting to have watched how much they'd grown under the PNGC leadership throughout year, and to know they were about to embark in a new adventure: grade 8!
Throughout all of these wonderful celebrations, Paul and I felt a sense of impending doom as we knew the day that Brandon and Rachel would be returning to the States was rapidly approaching. They have been incredible friends to us, and have profoundly impacted our service in South Africa and we knew their departure would be a loss for us. We felt fortunate to spend a few of Brandon and Rachel's last few days in the country with them before they flew out on December 12th. We'd encourage you to follow them as they transition back into life in the States on their new blog www.beyondsouthafrica.blogspot.com!