Friday, February 7, 2014

Hitchhiking, IST, and finally working-oh my!

Dumelang! Word on the newsfeed is that the US is still a little bleak-looking with the snow. Well, let me tell you, we’re in rainy season here and I love it! I’m rarely annoyed of the rain. The only time I ever curse the gods is when I am waiting for a hitch and the rain comes out of nowhere (I’m not kidding it rains when it’s sunny) and who wants to pick up a smelly, wet person? No one, that’s who. Oh, have I talked about how hitchhiking is the norm here?  Story time! So when we all first got our village assignments, the map showed my closest neighbour was only 45k down a road. That’s great! I asked around because the road on the map was labelled a ‘track road’, which I had no idea what that was. I asked some Motswana LCFs and they said it is a road directly to the village, but you can only ‘hike’ it. Hiking? I love hiking! Who knew there would be places to hike so close to me in Botswana?! How silly I was, they meant hitchhiking, of course. The closest grocery store is in that village, which is called Tutume, and it costs 10 pula to get there, or I can go to the main road and get a combi (mini-bus-type-van-thing where they squish 4 people in a row and it is never fun) and go to Francistown for 30 pula. It’s just the way of life; if you want to go anywhere you hitch or take a combi, both you have to pay for. Hitching is USUALLY more comfortable, considering you’re not crammed in a small van, it’s often just cars and trucks and they never make you share seats and I usually get a seatbelt. PC doesn’t like us to hitch (there have been problems in other countries, but very few issues in Bots), but it is not against policy, you just have to be smart about the hitches you take. If it’s just me and a car with 3 guys pulls over, I exercise my best judgement and kindly say “no thanks”. Just don’t be a dummy and you’ll be OK.
All bots-14s were reunited for three weeks in January for our IST-In Service Training. This is the time when we were able to talk to our program managers about what we have planned for our villages and discuss the challenges our peers were facing at their sites. It was three long weeks. But I can’t complain, the hotel was awesome, I didn't have to cook, there was electricity, AND there was a pool. Oh lordy, I almost forgot the wifi! It was wonderful and beautiful. For those of you in America, make sure you give your wifi router a little pat on the back, maybe a French kiss or a quick snuggle, because it is amazing. I really lived the highlife there for a few weeks, but now I am back in my reality of candlelight dinners with my cat. I also came back to a broken toilet (which I kind of fixed with a rubber glove *pats back*) and an angry kitty. She was kind of pissed I locked her in the house for 3 weeks-whoooops. It’s tough being a mother.

The beginning of February brought the start of my full-fledged service. How many times can I write “this is when my service actually begins”, because I feel like I’ve said it quite a few times. But honestly, it really does begin now. Now all 56 of us our off lockdown and we are able to start implementing our projects and programs we’ve been dreaming up since October.  I’m working on a lot of stuff and my schedule is actually filling up pretty fast, surprisingly. Unfortunately, none of the stuff I am doing is really at the clinic where I am based, it is all community stuff. Here is some of the stuff I am doing/trying to do: weekly fitness class, HIV/AIDs support group (support groups are very different here, they involve singing and dancing and it confuses me), computer lessons at the primary school and the library, grant writing for a small business in the community, working on implementing nutrition education into primary school and community, and I am trying to start working at the refugee camp in the next village over! So yeah, that’s what I am doing in Africa, I finally have an answer when people ask and it isn’t, “I sit at the health post and watch babies being weighed”. 

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