Month: August 2015

Dumela from Molepolole Botswana

We are sitting in the Molepolole Public Library using free Internet. Many of our fellow volunteers paid for such access but we know the value of our public libraries! Unfortunately there aren’t many like this in Botswana- at least not yet! We’ll see what two years does.  Hours aren’t very compatible with our training schedule so not sure how many visits we can make. Library is very new and modern but the collection is very small- mostly in English and they use Dewey.

We just finished the third week of our 3 month training. Very intense- 2 hours of language every morning then classes in culture, HIV/Aids, preparing for our sectors (Gary- Lifeskills in Schools and Teresa- will be assigned to a NGO), etc. We don’t find out our site placement until week 6 then go on a two week site visit. Can’t wait to find out!

Language is difficult. Teresa can say way more than she can understand which can get her in trouble. Gary is struggling but did a great job memorizing. Unfortunately when we had our first test, he couldn’t understand the questions. Teresa had trouble too so we will see where we are reclustered next week when they shuffle us according to ability.

Weather is starting to get warm. We walked about 80 minutes from school to the library and another 20-30 to get home. Next time we’ll take a taxi part way. Taxis aren’t door to door but run routes like buses. We are trying to make it on the Peace Corps walking around allowance which isn’t much. We will get more when we get to our site.

We have a great family for our homestay. Definitely not a lot of money but they are very nice. Food is different and Teresa is proud of herself for eating sheep and goat especially after the goat was butchered in our back yard and the carcass was splayed out in the kitchen the next morning. Only one ordinary spider so far and no snakes.  We wash our own clothes by hand outside using a series of 3 buckets/basins. Bathing is with a bucket of water heated either outside on wood or sometimes inside on the two burner gas camping type stove. No oven  but we do have a refrigerator, electricity and gas and running cold water. Have a regular toilet and a privy. Guess which we use most? We are pretty exhausted every night, as are the 25 year olds in our group so we don’t feel too old. Let’s just say 8:00 pm is the new 10:00 pm for lights out.

Typical day- up at 6, language class at half 7, bus to school at 9:30 (changes to half seven on Monday). At school until 5:15. Bus home, dinner anywhere from 6-9 with bath immediately after then bed. Studying is in there somewhere, either before or after dinner depending on when dinner is which is dependent on whoever decides to make it. (sometimes us). We were given Setswana names- Gary is Tebogo (means thanks) and Teresa is Lesedi (means light)

Given our limited access, you will see our kids posting and mediating for us. Didn’t transfer any pictures to my computer from the camera but will do that this weekend so hopefully next time we have access, we can post a picture or two.

People are very nice and are very tolerant of our pathetic Setswana. English is spoken by some but not everyone by any means. Cows, donkeys, chickens,and goats wander freely.  Molepolole is the biggest village in Botswana with 70,000 people. Next some towns then only 2 cities.

Fellow volunteers are amazing. Average age is 27- there are 5 married couples but the others are much younger. There are 3 other “seniors”- over the age of 60 and a handful maybe in their 40’s . Incredibly educated group and just amazing. Makes me very proud and full of hope for the generations coming after us. There are 76 total. There were 78 but one didn’t get on the plane and one left while we still in orientation in Gaborone- Day 2.

Our love to everyone and feel free to ask questions. We will try to answer in subsequent posts.

As you could tell from the previous post, we have arrived. The flight was long but not unbearable. The 5 hour wait in the Johannesburg airport was the hardest part. Gary’s bag (and those of 1 7others) arrived today. Plane from Johannesburg was a prop jet and just can’t handle the intense baggage of 77 Peace Corps volunteers at the same time.

I am afraid that right now Internet is too slow to be able to post any pictures so we’ll have to see how that goes in our next location. I am even having my son post entries for me so even I can’t see what I’m posting or what your are saying.

Right now we are still in Gaborone and have 2 days of training before matching with our host families on Thursday and starting pre-service training in earnest. Think about going to an all day workshop and multiply that by 11 weeks straight! It is grueling just to sit still for that long and try to focus, never mind the jet lag. We are very spoiled right now though and with hot running water and electricity, we are living like royalty. The hotel food is pretty good. Did try bogobe (sorghum porridge) today at lunch. Kind of like cream of wheat but the consistency of polenta.  On Thursday we go to Molepolole and meet our host families. It is about an hour from Gaborone.

So far we have filled out immigration papers, received our mosquito net and super-duper first aid kit, signed forms to get our bank account, got our first allotment of “walking around money” (125 pula which is about $12.50 US) and had our first Setswana lesson. All the studying we did is paying off as it isn’t as overwhelming

and is good to finally hear the correct pronunciation of words. Tomorrow is our meeting with the medical officer and a trip to immigration.

The weather is great- very cold at night/early morning but heats up nicely during the day. Haven’t seen much other than the ride from the airport to the hotel- looks a lot like a town in Guatemala actually.

May not be able to post again for a while. Our love to everyone. For those of you who know Peggy Flynn- she is doing great and is one of our trainers.

Proof Of Life

The Peace Corp so cleverly sends a “proof of life” picture when the volunteers arrive to their destination.

Gary and Teresa have arrived in Gaborone, Botswana. Here is the email sent from the Peach Corp:

Below is a picture of the Peace Corps/Botswana 2015 training class upon arrival at the airport in Gaborone, Botswana.  All trainees arrived safely after some extensive travel time.  By all accounts from Peace Corps staff in Botswana they are doing extremely well, in great spirits, and excited to get started on the next couple of months of training.  You should hear directly from your loved one soon, but it will take some time for them to get situated and the days are full of training sessions.image001 copy

So the Adventure begins!