Thursday, July 26, 2012

Top Five Reasons I Love My Village

5. The size. One of the things I thought I would be missing out on by coming to Botswana was the ‘traditional Peace Corps Experience’ that most volunteers have worldwide. Many volunteers in Botswana are placed in more urban settings, working in offices or the like so I was anticipating this to be the case for me. Turns out, I still get to live in rural Botswana and work out in the community, living in a village where most people know who I am (even if I have no clue if I have met them before or not).  About a week after I was introduced in the Kgotla (where meetings with the chief and other community leaders happen), all of these kids suddenly knew my Setswana name. I’ll walk by and they will either scream it “Loooooorrrrrrraato!” or they’ll whisper “Lorato,” just to see if I’ll really respond to it. Then I’ll look at them and say hi and about half will laugh and run away. I just wouldn’t get that in bigger villages.

4. The house. I may never get my bathroom sink fixed, who knows when the rest of my furniture is coming, and I’ll have lizards, bats, and semi-posionous spiders until I leave here, but my house is pretty plush. I have running water and electricity, and two bedrooms! And besides all of that great stuff, I have a cute little breakfast nook (chicken wire windows to be replaced) that looks onto a flood lake, at least for a little while longer, and into an awesomely traditional and beautiful compound with the best opportunities to people watch. They’re building a reed hut now, and pounding sorghum. It’s awesome.

3. The job. I get to make my own job, how awesome is that?! These first two months have been me assessing what the community actually wants and needs from me, and now I get to decide what to work on. I am just so excited to get up and go to work every day, seriously even analyzing HIV testing data is fun. How often can that be said about data analysis? My week generally start with some sort of plan, and then next to nothing happens the way I think it will. Luckily, something usually ends up working out one way or another, with a little wait time of course, but I can usually find something else to do in the meantime, like plan what I want my job to be. Plus, I get to work in exactly the area I have wanted to work in for years.

2. The Arts. For every event I have been to in Etsha 13at least one if not several traditional dance groups show up and perform, and each style is different and each dance tells a story. There are also usually musicians that come along with the performances. Most of all, I’m in the basket weaving capital of Botswana! I’m working with some wonderful women to get the basket crafts a little further off the ground and they’re going to teach me how to weave. It’s a crafters paradise!

1. The Combo. The fact that all of these things are combined into one site is awesome.  I get to live in a small village in a rural part of the peaceful country of Botswana, yet I still have running water, electricity, access to public transportation, and cell phone service.  Plus, people here make beautiful crafts and still carry on with many of the traditional aspects of life and because it is so underserved, there is a lot that I can do directly with the health education aspects of HIV/AIDS is amazing. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

4th of July

So it’s the 4th of July, a holiday that I was more nervous about how I would feel missing back home than Christmas. But I have to say, so far so good. No major bout of homesickness, although I think it helps that I haven’t been able to spend much time on the internet finding out what everyone is doing and that it rained on the fireworks last weekend at the lake. As much as it bums me to hear about a rainy 4th, it does make me feel happier about being in Botswana during one of my favorite holidays. It also helps that today was full of ‘Peace Corps Moments’.
The day started out at the clinic with the chance that I would catch a ride with one of the medical trucks to Gumare (a town nearby) to talk to the woman in charge of us and our housing as I am still missing most of my furniture (ga gona mathata, I’ve got the important stuff but I would like to fill up my empty living room) and needed to take care of some other business. So I spent the morning in the clinic, helping with patient intake, vitals, cute babies, practicing Setswana and attempting to meet and communicate with community members. All of the before mentioned: Peace Corps Moments. Aimee is in the same boat furniture-wise, so we managed to get her a ride to E13 so we could take the free ride together. It was the usual confusion regarding language and communication methods, will she be here or not? but then rapid Setswana is spoken and an ambulance ends up bringing her to my clinic. Something looking like it won’t work out and then somehow magically does: Peace Corps Moments.
So, we hopped in the back of the canopied truck bed ambulance and went on our way, taking the sandy part of the road instead of the paved part because it’s so beat up. Foreign country transport: PCM. We arrive in Gumare, and it’s lunch time and no one is in. So, we go do some other errands and find some of the best clementines ever out of the back of someone’s pickup bed. Finding random delicious food just when you think you’re surrounded by only white bread flour and refined oil: PCM. We head back to the hospital, and then spend the next four hours there being passed off from person to person, no one who really knows why we don’t have our furniture, or who should be paying for it, providing it, fixing up our houses, reimbursing us, etc., etc., but eventually we are reassured that someone is working on it now (and yes, that means they weren’t before). But we were able to meet a whole bunch of people who deal with things like supplies and funding, so it was totally worth it. Something being awesome and annoying at the same time: PCM. Then we caught an ambulance back right near sundown, with a whole bunch of other people stuffed in the back of this truck. Watching the sun set from the back of a converted truck to ambulance over a mud and thatch village: PCM. In spite of the lack of family, friends and fireworks on the lake, I’m pretty happy with my Fourth of July J