Tuesday, January 28, 2014

This & That

I haven’t been the best blogger of late, but here are a few updates on my life and work from the past few months:

Malaria Week:
As rainy season was just beginning in mid November (the time when malaria outbreaks become a risk), the Clinic and I put together a malaria campaign. We held health talks in the morning, hung the net display, and the health volunteer team and I went house to house with a flipchart presentation. I'm always surprised by how few people in my village know that malaria is transmitted by mosquitoes, in spite of the ability to identify malaria quickly, meaning we had plenty to teach! The event was a great success, reaching around 25 households and engaging patients at the clinic with our display and talks.

Evidence Based Planning
EBP is the week that the stakeholders gather together in a fancy lodge and plan out how to spend our funding for the next two years. It was also one of the most frustrating weeks I have experienced in Botswana. In spite of being put up in a nice hotel room all to myself, complete with aircon, a hot shower, and free meals, I felt as though my teeth were being pulled out, one by one, for most of the week. One of the most challenging aspects of working in Botswana is the bureaucracy; there is protocol for everything, though somehow the proper protocol varies widely depending on who you ask. In addition, EBP is full of people who want to get their ideas funded, badly (myself included). So arguments ensue, the occasional bigot shows her face (in which I actually had to walk out of the room I was so angry about her attempt to deny services to certain groups), and the "evidence" we used is meager at best; but, eventually we created a plan that prioritizes key areas and names potential activities to reach our goals. It was an frustrating and exhausting, but I managed to place numerous Peace Corps driven activities on the agenda for the next two years, so I'm counting it a success. 

World AIDS Day
Always a big commemoration in a country with the second highest rates of HIV in the world, my village and I recognized WAD with an event at the Kgotla (village center). From skits, songs, a fact contest, and some of kids’ HIV-inspired art display, Etsha 13 came together.

Teen Club Christmas Party!
Teen Club is a group I co-facilitate for youth living with HIV, and we had a fun holiday party for the youth complete with parachute games, a plastic Christmas tree, and lots of dance performances. Not your average holiday party, but certainly a memorable one!

How I met the President of Botswana
While at a craft market during December, we were perusing the baskets and baked goods when I heard a “Dumela, Mma,” from behind me. I half-turn around, put my left hand to my elbow, and casually said “Dumela, rra.” With a double take, I realize that the person I just shook hands with was the President of Botswana, apparently out and about Shakawe.

The Holidays
I spent the holidays visiting friends across the country, starting with multiple Thanksgiving celebrations, one in Maun with a real turkey (NOM) and another in Shakawe with the NW Okavango crew, both with incredible food of course. Christmas was magical, full of delicious food, fireworks, and good people, complete with a PCV Santa clad in a leopard print santa hat and a pillow stuffed in her shirt. In spite of ninety degree heat, this year actually felt like Christmas with my Peace Corps family coming from near and far. New Years was spent out at the lodge near my village, with a legitimate fireworks show over the lagoon and somehow managing to make it to watch the sun rise over the water (while at 8:00pm I was worried I wasn’t going to make it until midnight).

Gender Committee 
In mid January, I attended my last official Gender Committee meeting. It was a particularly productive meeting, in which I have an exciting new project for the tail end of my service, involving a country wide activity utilizing some of the copious funding available for gender-based violence projects at the moment. I've really enjoyed my time serving on the PC Botswana committee!

PC Botswana's Gender Committee

No comments:

Post a Comment