Friday, May 28, 2010

Mustache May Strikes Again (and some other more important news)

This week marked the 6th week of training and the date I had been anxiously waiting for since I got to Botswana - site announcements. We all gathered into a large room that had a large map of Botswana at the front. There were dots where all the sites were but no names. I could feel the nervous energy of 56 eager trainees. I even began to get nervous and sweat.

As it turns out, I was the third trainee to go up to the front to reveal my site. I walked to the front, grabbed my envelope and then looked to the map. Francistown! I couldn't believe it. It is the place I shadowed and really enjoyed (I heard that as a general rule, volunteers are not typically placed near the site they shadow in).

I am working with an NGO (Non Governmental Organization) called Light and Courage. Light and Courage focuses on providing care and support to people living with HIV/Aids (PLWHA). I am excited to learn more about the organization and begin to start work.

Overall, I feel like my placement is perfect. I wanted to live in a bigger site and I fell in love with Francistown when I shadowed a current volunteer. I also wanted to do work directly with PLWHA and to work on HIV prevention. My NGO will be a great fit for this as well.

Since my last update,we had a cultural day where we went to see some ancient rock paintings and saw a traditional village. the rock painting were very faint but were quite interesting. they were drawn by people living in the area over 2,000 years ago. I climbed above the rock paintings and found a small overlook. After living on flat land for 5 weeks it was nice to get a good view. Be sure to look at my pictures:

In less serious news, most of the guys in my training group decided to have a mustache growing contest. This is the picture from the final judging day. Overall, I think we looked pretty ridiculous but we had fun doing it and got a lot of interesting comments from our trainers.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Day in the Life of... (Training Version)

Here is an example of a typical day for me during training:

5:30am: Wake up, take a bucket bath, get dressed, and eat breakfast (I see the sun rise every day, and I am actually rather enjoying getting up early).

6:30am: I am out the door for my 1hr+ walk to my training site. It is around 7-8 km one way and I walk to and from school every day with the other volunteers who live nearby. My host family thinks I am crazy to walk so far (especially since a taxi ride to school is the equivalent of 45 US cents and takes about 15-20 minutes).

7:50am: Arrive at school and meet up with all of the other volunteers. Share stories about the previous night's meal or other funny things that happen to us.

8:00 - 10:00am: First session of the day (usually language). My language teacher is great and while I have difficulty with the language sometimes, I am slowly picking it up.

10:00 - 10:30am: Tea break. You have to love a country where there are tea breaks built into the schedule. I could really get used to this.

10:30 - 12:30: Second session (usually language again, but can also be something technical). The picture above us is an integrated language and technical lesson. We learned the Setswana words for food and then learned to cook traditional foods (and using traditional cooking methods).

12:30 - 1:30pm: Lunch.

1:30 - 3:30pm: Third session (usually something technical) The above picture is when the former Minister of Health came to speak to our group about HIV issues in the country. She is such an interesting woman to say the least. If you have the DVD of the series "No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency," you can see an interview with her in some of the bonus materials.

3:30 - 4:30pm: We either have a fourth session (again about some technical aspect like capacity building or behavior change), or three days a week they transport us to the stadium to get some exercise. Stadium days are a welcome stress reliever and I have enjoyed playing soccer (football) with some of the staff.

5:00pm: Walk home (assuming we didn't go to the stadium)

6:00 - 6:30pm: Arrive home

7:00pm: Eat dinner with my host family. I talk about my day and practice the new words and phrases I learned during the day.

8:00pm: I go to my room and read or study.

9:00pm: Lights out and go to sleep.

This is my schedule Monday - Saturday of a typical week. Sunday is my only day off and I spend the day doing laundry and working on homework assignments.