The past week was emotionally difficult. On Monday, October 12, a fellow volunteer in a nearby town died unexpectedly in his sleep.
The volunteer was a member of Nigeria’s Technical Aid Corps(TAC), the international volunteer program for Nigerian professionals. My housemate is also a TAC member and was very close to Folorunso, the deceased. Folorunso was a frequent houseguest and the news of his passing was a serious shock.
It truly highlights the fragility of life. It also draws attention to the sacrifices we make and risks we take as volunteers in a foreign country. We especially risk not being around family and friends during times of triumph, or in this case, tribulation. I have missed four births of family and friends back home, for example, since I journeyed to Namibia.
The sacrifices and risks seem worthwhile when observing the direct benefits of our service. When you see a few of the fruits of your labor, you truly want to live life to the fullest and make impacts where you know you can. When tragedy strikes, however, the shock can cause the mind and soul to wonder, “Why?" and "Why am I here?”
I must admit that I was hyper-sensitive to everyone’s direct and indirect interaction with me throughout the week. There were fleeting, though unfounded, feelings of being under-appreciated at times. I became annoyed when I didn’t receive returned phone calls, or e-mail and text messages from colleagues. I was constantly annoyed while walking to and from work, frustrated at the government’s lack of foresight and determination in arranging readily accessible car transport for my project. And I remained annoyed with the perceived lack of passion and dedication in my colleague who may be assuming leadership over the Centre once I am gone. Without a solid succession plan with qualified personnel, would my investment be a waste? The week was draining.
The week was also extremely productive. I hosted four life science and physical science classes at the Centre, each group showing excitement about seeing topics come to life in front of their eyes and about half using computers for the first time. I had a successful Teacher Development Wednesday, bringing the number of educators participating in my training this term to around 50. On Thursday and Friday, my co-administrator sent a substitute in her place; he was very focused and I enjoyed working with him. And over 100 registered users attended sessions throughout the week, many seeking additional instructional support from me to finally comprehend challenging math concepts. Oh, and I led my second session as a official tutor for University of Namibia students on Tuesday.
I know exactly why I am here. I am comfortable with the decisions I have made. And I know just how quickly life can end. Still, it doesn’t make the loss of a friend less significant.
Folorunso leaves behind in Lagos, Nigeria a wife and five children, ranging in age from about 7yrs to 15yrs. May he rest in peace. And may the family find support and solace in this difficult time and in the future.