Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Training Wheels Are Off...

Being back in the village has been BUSY! And mostly awesome. Now that the training wheels of the community assessment are long gone, highlights include:
·       -  My windows have been fixed! No more chicken wire or boarded up windows.
·        - A series of productive meetings that led to PACT Club (youth health club) and HIV/AIDS Support Group meetings actually getting scheduled and planned.
·         -MAIL!!!!! Letters and packages galore. AMAZING. Thanks mom/dad, Aunt Tam, Grandpa Steve and Jan for some incredible, awesome, delicious, and fun things and  a little bit of ‘Merica.
·         -Observing/assisting with the basic non-bodily fluid based stuff of a birth! This was pretty awesome and slightly terrifying but mostly awesome. I was only able to observe/help with the tail end of things because she began during the lunch break, but hopefully I’ll get to help with another one soon.
·         -The first elephant sighting! Aimee and I had been on a mission to see an elephant for weeks, with the running joke that we only see animals after we’ve had really frustrating and unproductive days. The elephant showed itself after we had spent the day in Gumare trying, to no avail, to get our furniture sorted out. Just when Botswana has beaten ya down, an elephant will charge in front of your bus.
·        - Obtaining fruit trees for my clinic’s garden. And it was easy. Next to nothing is simple here… I showed up to the forestry department at 4pm on a Friday and someone was there, and she was helpful. Then on Tuesday, my clinic found transport to pick up the fruit trees. And we went and picked them up without a hassle. For all of these things to just happen, without any issues was absolutely amazing.
·         -Chicken slaughter (sacrifice!). Aimee and I, with the help of our friend Theo, slaughter, cleaned and cooked a chicken.  And then ate chicken tacos with some of the tasty stuff sent in care packages.
·         -Fishing on the delta. Obviously, that was amazing too. I think this picture explains why.
·         Taking my new friend, Moloi, home! Now I’m not really a cat person, but I have to say he/she (sex tba) is growing on me. Plus, I haven’t seen
·          -Turning 23 years of age.  I was able to see the Gumare crew, have more actually productive meetings, braii and video skype with my family for the first time in five months. And then get to party it up over the weekend in Maun for a joint bday celebration. Wonderful.
·         -First PACT Club meeting with the Junior Secondary School students, and it went well! I’m really looking forward to working with them and other students in the area.
·         -Teen Club, a group for HIV positive youth (almost all members were born HIV+) is up and running! Our first official meeting will be this weekend.

It’s funny, because during IST I was nervous about heading back to my quiet, little village after being around so  many Americans and shopping malls for a couple of weeks, plus the added pressure and expectation that projects would be off the ground and functioning. But almost magically, things starting falling together and programs that I had been pushing for weeks began to take off. There is a whole bunch of good things ahead too- Family Bonding workshop, GLOW camp (youth life skills stuff), Breastfeeding Day, and I’m starting aerobics classes twice a week in the evening. For the first time since being in Botswana, I’m feeling a little stressed about my workload! It’s nice change of pace J

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Whirlwind of Workshops and IST

It has been a real intense couple of weeks. I’ve traveled more or less all over the country, had a whole bunch of training, a whole bunch of reuniting and merry-making, and eishe am I happy to see my little village again.

Two weeks ago, I was in Maun (the biggest town within six hours from me) for a very intense grant writing workshop, hosted by aid organization SAREP. One of our PCV Leaders invited a group of us from the Delta region to attend along with several organizations to help each organization write a (hopefully successful) grant. This also means that I was able to spend the last week with super fast internet, a shower, and grocery stores, which was quite a treat.  
Most PCVs were paired with organizations at random; I was lucky enough that an organization that I had already been working with was also invited to the workshop. The Ngamiland Basket Weavers Trust is an organization that I have worked a little with, based in the Etsha villages. They are a group of weavers composed primarily of women, so it has been fantastic to work with an organization focusing on women and income generation. They want to host a workshop in the region and wanted SAREP’s help, so we spent one very intense day writing a grant proposal.

It was probably the most hectic, intense work day that I have had in Botswana. It was like writing the paper the night before it’s due, plus there is a language barrier and you’re working with two other people to figure out exactly what they want and then put it into words. It was exhausting, but in the end we were pretty happy with the proposal and we all learned a lot about the grant writing process.

Then, one long bus ride and an even longer, though hilarious, hitch later, In-Service Training came in Gaborone. All of Bots 12 intake group came together for a little over a week of training and enjoying each other’s company in the capital city. There were a lot of sessions- some helpful and some atrocious. On the good end, I got a ton of ideas for activities and improving things we're already doing, and on the other hand, we learned just how terrible the NACA (HIV/AIDS on the national level) is. It was wonderful and a little bit crazy being back with the Bots 12 family, but I am certainly happy to be in the village again.