Month: May 2016

Dinner Party Follow up

In the post over the weekend we mentioned we had 7 people coming for dinner Monday night. Well, one was sick, one had to help someone with car problems (she did drop off a bottle of wine), one had to help her daughter with homework as husband was not available (she stayed for a few minutes), two never showed. So, two came. So, we encouraged one to go home and get her two children who were at home nearby- a 20 year old and a 2 1/2 year old. Not as bad as the time we gave a party and no one came- some of you know that story and for those who don’t, suffice it to say we are a little gun shy about having parties with people we don’t know very well.

dinner party


It was the first time any of them had eaten lasagna. Cheese just isn’t very popular here. The cows and goats are all used for meat not dairy and cheese (what there is) is very expensive! (It is a major splurge for us but we decided we deserve it) The little boy LOVED it. Mom was so surprised. Unfortunately we forgot to take a picture of the beautiful lasagna and bean salad. Guess we could have taken one tonight since we have lots of leftovers! But, here is the dip and crudites and caramel apple pie. Missing is the ice cream and caramel sauce that came on top.

Do we seem obsessed with food? We have noticed that PCVs post a lot of pictures of food so guess we are normal.

Well, off to eat some of the leftover pie with ice cream and caramel sauce- life could be a lot worse!




Bicycles and other doings

It’s been a busy couple of weeks. Hard to believe we haven’t posted since May 2. Here are some highlights of our doings since then.

Teresa spent a week at Peace Corps HQ helping to plan the training for the new group coming July 31.  It was a great week and we made a lot of changes which will hopefully result in a more rewarding pre-service training than we had. Teresa really appreciated the openness of PC staff to new ideas and ways of doing things.

We had our Kgotla meeting to have our community parenting skills initiative sanctioned by the tribal chief. The working group meets this Tuesday so wish us luck.

We held a family fun day at the Centre. Families had a great time and learned the value of play in their child’s development. It was heartening to hear a parent say they used to tell their child to stop playing and get serious and  now they know it is important for them to play.

Teresa also served on a panel of volunteers to speak to a group of visiting students from Furman University in South Carolina. They are studying the cultural factors that are inhibiting the eradication of HIV/AIDS and what we, as PCVs are doing to help. Of the 19 students, our guess is that at least 15 of them will end up as PCVs.

Most of the equipment ordered through the grant has come including a photocopier. OK- those of you who have worked with Teresa know that copiers and she have a love/hate relationship. Teresa loves them, they hate her. She did get it set up and now the fun begins since we don’t have a maintenance contract… Gary, in the meantime, is being a dear and is putting together desks and bookcases.

Meanwhile, Gary is staying busy too. He just finished week 8 of the 11 week Grass Roots Soccer program. This week’s lesson was all about condoms- how to put them on and take them off properly. It also touched on the value of circumcision (circumcision results in a 60% less chance of getting HIV and by using a condom and being circumcised the protection increases to 100% for the male).

Gary also submitted a plan to help with the high student failure rate. One of the primary components that has been approved is to do English tutoring for a group of 18 students identified as having problems.  Obviously there are more since over 200 are failing but they said only one class so far.They are taught in English but by rote memorization and when it comes to the tests (which are government standardized tests) the comprehension is really low so the students fail, not just because they don’t know the information but because they don’t understand the questions or the answers.

Our big news is that we got bicycles. A friend of ours helped us get them home yesterday.- Thank you Gloria!

bikes getting them home.JPG

The day included a celebratory lunch at Sanitas, a lovely nursery that has a teahouse. (That is a STRAWBERRY smoothie next to the salad. It was AMAZING)

We took our first ride today- about 4.5k round trip to the store to pick up ice cream (another story). We did fine except for a few spots where we hit sand which is kind of like hitting a brick wall.   PC pays for the bike and a helmet with the stipulation that you wear the helmet or you can be sent home. Remember the part about hitting a brick wall- let’s just say we are glad we have helmets. While we now officially look like Mormon missionaries (no offense to our LDS friends) we also believe we are now famous (notorious) in the village. Two old people (greatly revered here but not usually seen riding bikes) on rather nice bikes with helmets. The bike shop we went to is very good to PC volunteers- we got SUBSTANTIAL discounts on both the bikes and the helmets so that the PC stipend would cover them. Both bikes, while second hand, are much nicer than the typical bike you see here being ridden by average people so we actually felt a little like rich Americans which was a bit uncomfortable.  Feeling as conspicuous as we did, we will probably focus our riding in the other direction from our house which is out into the country between Gabane and Mmokolodi- no cars, few people, open and flat. Now we just need to figure out how to really ride them (Andrew- where are you when I need you?) and what is the best way to ride through sand? It has been probably 20 years since either of us has ridden a bike but a couple of Ibuprofen and a rest this afternoon and we are good as new!

Why the ice cream you ask? We decided it was time to invite a couple of Gary’s colleagues over for dinner as they have expressed curiosity as to how we entertain in America. The second goal of PC is to educate people in what American culture is like. So, Gary invited a couple of people and they in turn invited people (a very cultural thing to do/happen) so now we have dinner for 9 tomorrow night. What we don’t know is how many people are now offended because we didn’t invite them. We only have 4 plates so we bought some extra plastic ones. Luckily we have 9 forks exactly and the previous volunteer left us some styrofoam cups (sorry environment) as we don’t have 9 glasses. We will be serving crudites with a ranch style dip, lasagne, three bean salad, french rolls (homemade of course) and a caramel apple pie for dessert. This is not a typical Botswana meal at all so we will see how it goes. We also can’t seat 9 at our table so it will be lap eating which is very typical here.



It’s a Beautiful Day (and weekend)

Let us count the ways:

  • Weather is definitely cooling down- slept with a blanket last night and it felt so good.
  • Took a 4 mile round trip walk to pick up pottery for a Volunteer we are going to see next weekend. On the way back there was a goat who had just given birth to twins and we watched the younger(?) one stand up for the first time.
  • Today is a holiday- Labour Day- very relaxing- just woke up from a nap. Thursday is another holiday- Ascension Day. For those of you unversed in scripture and too impatient to google it (like we had to), Ascension Day comes 40 days after Easter Sunday and is the day Jesus left the mortal world and ascended to Heaven.
  • Got everything done on our “to do list”! (including reorganizing the pantry/cupboard)
  • We also learned on Friday that there is a Child Protection Committee in the Village that is comprised of the very stakeholders we are trying to reach with our community parenting initiative. We are very hopeful this will become the vehicle for carrying this project to fruition.  Why no one has told us about this before now, remains a mystery but no matter, we know now.
  • At the mall Saturday, Teresa stopped in at one of the stores she is going to get some of her grant funded equipment at. The refrigerator she had scoped out is no longer in stock and there was nothing for the same price- less expensive and smaller or more expensive for the same size. The wonderful department manager agreed to give her a more expensive one at the price  budgeted- a P600 savings (only $60 but huge for the grant).
  • Downloaded pictures from Teresa’s supervisor’s service learning project on learning through play and these were two favorites- let’s hear it for gender equality starting early! This project is bigger than it would appear. The whole educational system is based on rote learning and memorization starting in preschool. Teresa’s supervisor is in a certificate program for early childhood education/social work and has become a believer in the value of play in the early childhood environment.  She needed a supervisor for her community project which she is doing with her own organization and she is the most qualified person working there.  So given Gary’s 40 combined years in Early childhood/social work she asked him if he  would supervise her project.  She has decided that children might learn best through play.  This preschool and as far as we can tell,  all  of them are very academic.  We were both amazed when we first observed about how much it looked like regular school.  Teresa mentioned at one time about learning centers and how that concept worked and her supervisor jumped right in.  They developed four centers (store, clinic, house and art). We made play dough (which was a new thing to them). Last week they began  playing in the centers instead of sitting at their tables and “being taught”. Gary got to observe and she and the kids did a great job. The kids had a great time. She then gave a workshop to the rest of her staff and they are supportive. Change is always hard and  it is difficult for people to grasp that playing has value so we will see if it can be sustained.  This coming Saturday we will have a Family Fun Day to bring it home to the parents (literally and figuratively).  We did all this with no special funding (We contributed the flour and salt and food coloring. The stove is an old one the Centre had that no  longer works and is getting replaced by a 6 burner commercial one through the grant we just got). Everything else we made from what we had or folks gave us. In terms of Peace Corps this will not be a “reportable” HIV/AIDS  related activity for PEPFAR statistics other than when we talk about what we  did this quarter but it means a lot in the long run if we can help to set these kids up for a more successful educational experience.