We have been in the town we will be in for the next two years, it has been pretty exciting. So far it has been a positive experience. We are here for two weeks as a “site visit”.
This is something new for the Peace Corps here. Usually they send trainees out to shadow a volunteer for a long weekend but not necessarily where you will end up. I think it is a great idea, there has been a lot of anxiety over where one will
be placed and then when you do find out you wonder “what does that mean?”
Well now we know. We spend the two weeks staying with a host family but if our future home is ready and available then you get to see that as well. You also get a change to go to your work site and learn about that as well as doing a lot of community visiting to begin to get a feel for your community. This is also what one does for the first three months of service and then you begin to decide on your projects and begin those. You are always supposed to be working with someone so I can see why it would take a while to connect in the community for community projects. I am not sure what the expectation is for your
main work site but I am pretty sure I will start something almost right away although I won’t have much time. Schools are out at the end of November and closed until after New Year’s so mostly I will plan and make a few connections and then start things in January.
There are 3 terms with two weeks off the end of April and then 3 weeks in July, also 1 week the first week in October as mid term break and to celebrate Independence Day. Anyway I really have no idea what I will be doing exactly but probably will start some peer counseling groups and hopefully some alcohol groups, not sure how to get them to join that one.
We went to a wedding the first day here and that was interesting, we actually went to one of the receptions, the whole things is often 3 days long, wedding ceremony reception at the bride’s and then one at the groom’s. If they are from different villages then it is spread over two weekends. Pretty typical; speeches, lots of food, music and dancing. The difference is that the bride changes her clothes as often as she was given an outfit, this one 3 times. They dance out of the tent to the house where she changes and then dance back, a whole entourage dances along with them. Food is served to almost everyone then the other town folk that are attending go through the buffet and get food. Everybody in the village that wants to can attend but there
does seem to be invited guests and extras.
Our town is about 15,000 people and is about 20 kilometers southwest of Gaborone, the capital. There were several weddings going on that weekend which is normal. One of our projects is to map the community and we have spent a lot of
time walking around and trying to figure everything out.
Our new house is really cute, 1 bedroom, LR, kitchen and bathroom, about 600 sq ft. It is right across the street from where Teresa works and about 300 yds from my school but it is about 3 kilometers from the main road where the transportation starts, although we may be able to call for a taxi but that is bit much, 10p just to get to the main road where we can catch a combi (van size bus) and then go all the way to Gaborone for 3.5 p. We probably won’t do taxis much except maybe to get groceries home. Our main grocery store is about 8 k away 3 to the main road and then 5 down it so we can probably get a combi back for 3.5 each and then get a taxi for 10. We will probably walk the 8 k to get to the store since we will have empty packs. The only negative thing about our new home is that there currently is no water, they turned it on for a day all of last week. This is relatively new, although it has been going for the last month or so, partly drought and partly a broken main. Our closest water supply is 3 k away and we will need it for everything including the bathroom. Most houses have pit latrines even if they have modern bathrooms but our new home only has the inside bathroom which is great if there is water. However, whenever I think of complaining I remember that there are a number of volunteers that don’t have running water at all and no inside bathrooms so we are lucky. We do have electricity. We will be getting about 2000p a month to live on and that is not a lot, about $200; rent and utilities are paid and of course the Peace Corps takes care of our medical needs, so mostly food and transportation.