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!
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.