Monday, December 13, 2010
Dumelang Borra le Bomma!
I can't believe a month has gone by since our last blog posting. Time is going by really quickly, which is strange because things generally happen verrrry slowly here.
So, a funny thing just happened to me which made me think that I should write a posting because I wanted to share it with people at home who could have a little laugh about it too. I was sitting here on the computer and started hearing some clucking getting louder and louder. This, of course, is not strange. We are used to all of the chickens, goats, and donkey's that wonder around the village by now. But then I looked over and this chicken and all of her chicks were inside the house! I guess she was just checking things out looking for a snack or something. So I took this picture. I think it is actually funny that more animals don't find there way into the house since the front gate is big enough for a lot of things to fit through. Our little puppy friend, Flea, got too big to fit through the holes but that doesn't stop her from trying and getting her little body stuck halfway in the doorway!
What else has been happening over here? Let's see, Thanksgiving was fun. We had a big celebration with some of our Peace Corps friends. We made four deep fried turkey's! Granted, they were smaller than our American turkey's but it was still a ton of food. I also liked the deep frying method for cooking the turkey...might try it sometime on my own when we get home. It was also nice to reflect on everything we are thankful for here in Botswana and at home. Being here has really made it clear to me just how much we truly have to be thankful for and it has been humbling to think about all of those things that I used to simply take for granted. We still felt a little homesick but our "Peace Corps" family has really helped a lot.
Now we are getting ready for our Christmas trip. We are going to be doing some camping and visiting Victory Falls in Zambia and also staying on a little island in the Zambezi river for a few days relaxing. It going to be a really fun trip and I am excited to see some wildlife and a different part of Africa. So look forward to some (hopefully) great pictures of the trip in the next few weeks.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Right now I am actually at my office, but there is nothing going on so I thought I would take the time to write a blog. This afternoon I am going to the hospital here in the village to be part of the third meeting of the new support group for people living with HIV/AIDS. No one has actually come yet besides the people at the hospital and myself who are trying to start it. But I am hopeful that people will come and that it will be a strong group because it is very much needed. We also have started an English Club at one of the middle schools. The students are very excited (about 35 of them) to be able to have American pen pals through a teacher friend at our old high school, St. Phil. I think it will be great and hope that the American kids get something out of it too. Our orphan support group continues to go well. The kids are loosing up around us a little more and we have learned that they actually know quite a bit more English than we thought they did! They were just too shy to talk to us the whole time! All of their classes and offical business here is carried out in English, but in general people (especially children) are not comfortable speaking it. I don't blame them at all because I feel silly trying to speak Setswana sometimes too.
I think the little things that happen are sometimes the most amusing and in time maybe the things that I remember most too. Everyday on my walk to and from work I pass by a house with several little children. There is a little girl who is probably about 3 years old. Right now her hair style is little braids that stick up like spikes on her head which makes everything more funny. This is our conversation almost everyday.
Girl: Lakoa, Lakoa, Lakoa!! (jumping up and down)
Girl: Good morn
Me: Good morning.
Girl: How old are you? I am fine.
Me: (laughing) I am fine. Go siame (goodbye)
It cracks me up every time. I guess she means to say "how are you" but somehow learned "how old are you" instead. I am tempted sometimes to just say '27' and see what she says...I call her my 'good morn' girl and look forward to walking by that house every morning.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
-Lindsey aka Lesego
Monday, October 11, 2010
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Oh yeah, on the bus ride back south we had to stand for the entire time (2 1/2 hours)! At one point I had someone touching me from every angle. At one point I seriously contemplated just laying across the laps of the passengers sitting down. All in all I kind of think it was a cool experience... not one that I want to have again anytime soon, but in a weird way it was cool to experience how many Africans travel everyday.
Monday, September 27, 2010
Sorry we haven't posted anything in a while. We have no excuse really, other than the fact that it is getting so hot here that we don't have much energy to do anything! I guess it is not really that hot yet, it is in the 90's during the day, but without any air conditioning of any kind and having to walk everywhere we want to go it can be pretty miserable sometimes!
Last weekend we went on a game drive in the Khama Rhino Sanctuary which is about 2 hours after from where we live in a village called Serowe. We stayed with a fellow Peace Corps volunteer, Patty, who had talked her friends into driving us around the park for free! We had a blast together and finally saw some wild animals after all of this time in Africa. The sanctuary was originally created to help protect rhino's in Botswana who were becoming endangered. We were able to see a lot of the rhino's because right now it is winter and very dry here so there are only a few watering holes and they were all gathered by them drinking. Overall, it was such a great time and we felt really lucky that we were able to do it just as a short weekend trip because we live here!
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Lastly, I want to give a big shout out to our Colorado crew. I finally found the time to get to the post office and found two packages waiting for us (both from CO). I am working on a cavity as we speak and as soon as it cools down there will be a batch of brownies in the oven.... This is very exciting. Thank you GEI for the kitten card! I feel right at home now and the books came at the perfect time. Jay and KP thanks to you too. The beer magazine will probably make me cry before I finish reading it... you have no idea how good you have it! cherish every pint.
Friday, August 20, 2010
Things are going well for me at work too. Murphy came with me everyday this week, of course, since Mark is gone. The only problem (aside from the million and one dog fights he gets into on the walk) is that he scares the clients who come into the office! People here are generally afraid of dogs and don't really think of them like pets the same way we do. Dogs are for protection only here and are trained to be pretty mean. But Murphy is the most sweet, good natured dog you ever met. Of course, other people don't know that and when they come up to the office and Murphy is sprawled out across the doorstep they get pretty nervous! I feel bad, but I am just not good at being mean to that dog plus nothing keeps him away anyway.
Mark says hello too. He has been having fun in Gabs (the capital) at the training. A hot shower, three huge buffets meals a day, and a pool.....not too shabby! He says that he is learning a lot and has good ideas for projects when he gets back. I am excited to go too since I will be able to see all of our friends and hear how everyone else has been doing the past few months.
That's about it for now! We miss everyone a lot and think about home all the time! Hope everyone is doing well and enjoying the end of summer (ours is just beginning!).
Thursday, August 5, 2010
It seems like a lot has been happening over the past week! After waiting more than two months, and going through an unbelievable amount of red tape, we finally have some furniture. We now have a bed, stove, and fridge to add to our hammock. It is great!! Here are some pics of our place so you can get an idea of how we live day to day. We are liking our house more and more everyday.
First, the not so good things. Well, just one thing really. I saw a SNAKE!! If you know me at all then you know that I am terrified of snakes and that this was my #1 fear of coming to Botswana! But it was only a little green guarder snake that I saw when I was walking on the path to work the other day and not a black mamba or anything! Actually, it was probably a good thing because the only way for me to get over this phobia is too confront these horrible creatures head on! I am told than during the hot/raining season (Nov. - Jan.) there will be a lot more snakes.
Now some good stuff....we have been approached by several people to help with different projects in our community. One of the local middle schools asked us to help with organizing an educational camp to encourage positive attitudes and motivation for learning on the part of the students. We are really exciting to have something to work on and we think this will be a great way to build some community relationships. We also met some people working on HIV testing and community mobilization projects here in Mmadinare. They will be going door to door to encourage people to go and take HIV tests with a goal of testing 20,000 people in this district within a 4 month time frame. It is an ambitious goal and we are happy to be part of this as well. Otherwise, we are beginning to be accepted into our community more everyday. We meet people all the time that want to learn more about us and they are also opening up to us about their lives. So after a bit of a slow start things are really starting to move forward and it is pretty exciting!
This afternoon on our walk through the hills of Mmadinare we were discussing how accustomed we have become to this place when a 100 year old lady came walking up to us. No shit 100 hundred years old! She had a bucket balanced on her head that we can only assume was full of something.... because that is how they carry heavy stuff. We slowed to greet her and she was very excited to see us and even more excited to learn that we could speak some Setswana. We talked with her for about ten minutes, she held on to my hand for most of it and at one point I thought I broke one of her brittle fingers, but I'm getting off topic. This entire time the woman, a one hundred year old woman, had a bucket balancing on her head! It's not like she was just standing there very still. Like I said she was very excited to see us her head was moving this way and that and she was carrying on like we were her best new friends. We left our little old lady friend with a new understanding of the Village and man I will never forget that toothless smile. Sorry no pictures. Here is a nice picture of a white cow instead.
Ok one more just because I haven't written in a while. So yesterday Linds and I were asked to meet with the head master and the guidance counselor of a local junior high school. We made the long hike out there with our trusty side kick Murphy in toe... rather he was leading the way. Any who, we made it to the school and made sure to close the gate behind us so that Murphy wouldn't follow us right into the meeting. We signed in and found our way into the Principles' office were we had a very formal meeting discussing an up coming workshop that we were invited to co-plan. The meeting was wrapping up nicely when we looked up and found Murphy standing right next to us... Some how he had tunneled under the wall, tracked our scent into the administration office and then zeroed in on our voice located down the hall in a closed meeting. What a hell of a dog! Truly man's best friend.
Friday, July 30, 2010
I also took some pictures of some of the children who attend our orphan support group on Saturday's. They are so cute! These kids don't speak any English and our Setswana is not very good, but we are trying to get to know them and they love to play the games that we teach them. The support group is by far the best thing we have going on right now and hopefully we will be able to do a lot of fun stuff with the kids over the next two years. I think it would be really cool to arrange a field trip with them and go camping somewhere like in Chobe National Park here in Botswana. Botswana actually has some of the best places in Africa for safari's and seeing wildlife (so come and visit!), but most of these kids have never been able to see these great things in their own country! It's just a dream right now, but we will see how things go! Anyways, hope you enjoy looking at the pictures. We are doing well and will post another update soon.
Monday, July 26, 2010
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
We have this little dog that comes to visit us. I have affectionately named it flea. You can take a guess at why. So this little dog comes to visit us on a regular basis and yes quite often she sneaks inside. I have no idea why! We have been staying busy meeting all of the right people lately, in the hopes that something great will come out of it. Right now we are just happy to be received well. I think great things will happen it's just that it seems that not a lot is happening right now. I think we are having a tremendous impact on our community because we take these long walks (4-5 miles) out through town, which means hilly dirt paths dispersed between barely standing houses. The reception that we receive is incredible. People literally run out of their houses to say hello or at least get a glimpse of the Lakoa (Englishman or white person). It is our understanding that most people have seen a Lakoa. We get that but, what is unique is that we are walking past there house which is most often a tiny shack in the middle of the African desert and to go one step further we are genuinely happy to see them and greet them happily. Whether or not this means anything, you be the judge, but the smiles on the faces that I see are priceless.
My assignment consists of working at a Pre-school inorder to build up the administration to better serve the needs of those children who have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS... It is a long story and I am still figuring it out my self. I have a pretty good idea of what I am doing here. It is just a matter of sorting out the most important ideas. Literally there are a hundred of ideas running through my head everyday. Some of the best are support groups for youth (already started), community movie nights, the use of drama clubs to influence teen behavior, buisness plan workshops, mens softball club, male circumcision education, and talks about drug and alcohol abuse. All of these have some way of reducing or preventing the transmission of HIV/AIDs. It wouldn't seem like it but any of these simple ideas are quite large steps for this community and would take a considerable amount of community support to even get started. I certainly have my work cut out for me. Lindsey will have to talk about what she is doing, but I can tell you that she is looking into a big brothers big sisters program for Mmadinare. For right now we are happy to be intigrating into the community and I think our presence alone is helping to change the minds of some of the people here in Mmadinare.
The garden was planted this weekend! Tomatoes, eggplant, chili pepper, green beans, broccoli, and beets. We also put down a few flower beds in front of the house for wildflowers. Right know all I can think about is keeping the neigbors chickens out long enough for things to sprout up. I find myself dreaming about it in the early morning and then at the first sound of baby chicks I am up and out of bed like a flash to check out the window and make sure those damn chicks aren't eating all of my seeds.
I hope you like the pictures. Mark
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
You might think that Mark and I could never wear the same pants, but then you would be mistaken. Today we were so bored that Mark bet me he could put on a pair of my jeans. Naturally, I said, "Go ahead, but there is no way you are going to fit into my pants!" (I was secretly hoping he would do it and rip them so I would have an excuse to buy a new pair.) So anyway here is the proof that he actually was able to not only put them on but say that they were "comfortable" and "a little loose"!!!
As for me I have become addicted to these treats that are literally called 'fat cakes' and are nothing more than fried balls of dough!! They are monate thata (very tasty)! Mark says that once my pants don't fit me anymore he will take them! Haha, so nice of him right?!
Monday, July 5, 2010
This is a picture of mans best friend! Murphy. He is a complete junk yard dog but we love him all the same. We have found that with just a little affection any dog will soon become your loyal companion, well maybe not the loyal part. Each morning Lindsey and I work very hard to try to keep Murphy in his yard but on ocasion he has had a mind of his own. Either he follows Lindsey to work and literally lays in the middle of the door way to her office or he follows me all the way to my school. We really haven't had to worry about any one breaking in to our house because Murphy usually lays across our doorstep and he is not shy when it comes to barking away trouble (refer to my previous post).
Finally here is pinkies, the local general store that we do most of our grocery shopping at. They don't have a whole lot but you can generally find most dry goods like flour, sugar, salt and so on. They have a small shelf with a few different canned goods, a small freezer full of meat (I have no interest in this seeing that I made friends with the local butcher today), and lastly they have a small table for produce. The produce usually consists of potatoes, tomatoes, and onions. So at least we aren't starving.
Things are good here.. at little slow at times, but good. We have hobbies to keep us busy, all of the conveniences we need just down the street, and the best friend anyone could ask for just at our doorstep.
Friday, July 2, 2010
There is something going on out there. I can hear cow bells ringing similar to when a donkey cart goes by but these bells are stationary. I think there may be some type of something happening... I don't know what. Maybe a baby born way of in the distance or something, but you can rest assured that sooner or later I will find a key to my cage and venture off into the night to discover exactly what is going on. Perhaps tomorrow night when this same thing happens??
Friday, June 25, 2010
I found an interesting article online today that gives some details about the history and development of our village here in Botswana, Mmadinare. Here is the link to the article if any of you are interested in reading it.
I also found this article that talks about the upcoming tourist development of the Lestibogo dam that is located only a few miles away from Mmadinare. It is really a beautiful place and I'll post some pics of it here too. They are talking about developing this area as more of a tourist destination and I can see why because it is really a very pretty place surrounded by hills and it shows the authentic traditional village life here in Botswana as well which is something you really wouldn't see if you only came here for a safari. Here is the link to that article too.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
7:15am- start walking to work (but now I have a bike)
7:30am- get to work at the S and CD office (social and community development). There are three other social workers and a student intern.
7:30-12:00ish- hang out at the office. Since I don't understand Setswana very well I don't catch much of what is going on with the clients until I can ask someone later. I know that they provide food rations for children who have been orphaned and for people who are unable to work called 'destitutes'.
1:00-4:00ish- Mark and I walk around and introduce ourselves to people in the community. Everyone has been really friendly to us and wants to know us. Later on, when we identify projects, we will both have things going on in the community in the afternoon's. For example I might see if I can help teach a life skills class at a middle school about health and HIV/AIDS issues.
5:00ish-Make dinner. This has has been funny lately. We don't have a stove, fridge, or any furniture yet so Mark had the genius idea to cook on our space heater! It actually worked! I think we fried some veggies or something. Now, thankfully, we have a rice cooker and an electric frying pan that my supervisor loaned to us so we can cook normally (and safely!).
Evening time- We usually get on the Internet now that we have it for a while, listen to music and radio shows, read (a lot), and talk with our neighbors. We have movies on our computer that we watch too. Lately we have been addicted to True Blood and are onto season 2 now!
9:30pm- Bed time! I know....we are seriously old ladies now! We stayed up until about 11pm last weekend and I could have sworn that it was 3am because I was so tired! I guess this is a good thing because there is not much else to do when it gets dark here. It gets really, really dark and the stars are amazing too. We should get an astrology book or something!
So that's it....every now and them something funny happens, usually to do with a farm animal since they are everywhere. It's funny how 'normal' everything is when before we came I thought it would all be so exciting and strange!
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Today I was at school when some goats found their way onto the school grounds. This is a big deal because they have been eating our garden! So I walked out toward them to scare them off and as I passed by Mma Makoba's office she let out a yell.... "Lasie!!" All of a sudden without another word being spoken a 4 year boy comes bolting out of class to run and chase off the goats. So that's it. I found myself wondering how often this happens and whether or not the boy is actually called Lasie.
Sunday, May 30, 2010
The past few days we have been visiting our new home in Mmadinare. It is a nice hilltop village town just north of the town of Phikwe. Phikwe is a major town with many stores and restaurants... they even have sidewalks in town! This is a huge thing for Botswana. I am working with Mmadinare Childrens Corner Trust, which is a preschool that deals with kids who have been affected by HIV, especially those orphaned and vulnerable children. It is not exactly what I wanted but it will make my days much easier to deal with since I will be playing with kids all day. Lindsey actually has a pretty good office which seems to be pretty well organized. I think all in all we will have the opportunity to make a big impact on the community. The town is completely surrounded by hills in every way so I think we will have the opportunity to get out in the wilderness quite often. There is a large reservoir in town, actually the largest in all of Botswana so this makes me happy since I have seen very little water since arriving in the country. That's it for me here's Lindsey- so my placement is with the S and CD office in Mmadinare. That stands for social and community development and it is basically a social work office similar to what we have at home. There are many differences I am sure, but overall I felt very comfortable with the position because my past experience has been similar. My supervisor seemed like a really nice person and she took me on a home visit (or should I say 'hut' visit) on the first day and told me about an interesting case she is working on right now. I think I will also do some work with Mark's NGO since I like to work with young kids and I am interested in the support groups that they run for the orphaned kids. As you can see from the picture we got to finally see our house. It is pretty small, but we will make it work. We have electricity and hot running water with an indoor bathroom. Some other volunteers don't even have that so we should be really happy about that! There are a few volunteers that have huge houses that seem like mansions to us now! It is all just luck what you get in the end. Our village is also about 1 hour away from one of the major cities in Botswana called Francistown. There is an international airport there that visitors can fly into easily so keep it in mind! That's all for now...soon we will have internet connection in our house with a portable modem so we will look forward to keeping in touch with everyone.