Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Moving Towards Winter

It is the first week of April, and the weather is gradually cooling off. This is the first morning that I am digging socks out of my luggage and putting on a sweat shirt to stay cozy. (Did you say luggage? Yes, I don’t have a closet, so my clothes are still in my luggage, kept zipped shut so no critters can get inside.) I have been told by my neighbors that winter is bitter in Digawana. The sunny, rainless days will be pleasant with temperatures in the 70s, but the nights will get below freezing. In a house made of concrete blocks with a tin roof and no insulation, it will definitely feel like winter. I expect I’ll be buying a space heater in May.

Friends from my village
Last week I had my first visitor from outside the country. Trudy came and spent six days with me over the Easter week-end. Having her here added an expanded perspective to my experience of my life here. I could see that I am actually speaking Setswana, though not anywhere near fluently. I can say it better than I hear it. The most fun conversations are when I speak Setswana and the person I’m talking to answers in English. That way I know I have been correctly understood, and I can understand the response. If they respond in Setswana, I may think I know what we’re talking about, but be far off base. Trudy’s being here also let me see how much I am incorporated into the community.
Everywhere we went, there were people who knew me that I could introduce her to. 
Bride and Groom

We went to a wedding of a co-worker where we enjoyed eating the national food and watching the dancing. We rode the local transportation vehicles to a couple of destinations to visit other Peace Corps Volunteers. We stayed in the rural setting, and I think Trudy got a very accurate taste of what my life is like here. The weather was very nice, though windy on a couple of days, so we were able to walk a lot. I felt refreshed and encouraged by her visit.
Trudy says she will remember me here with either a broom or a fly swatter in my hand.
Friends of the couple led the celebrations
The broom because the wind blows the fine red silt through the cracks around the doors, and the fly swatter because there is a kraal (corral) for livestock just across the path in front of the house. She confirmed for me some of the impressions I have had about flies in Botswana. They are the hardiest flies I have ever seen. They are fast! In Ethiopia Jim could snatch flies out of the air and sometimes you could swat them with your hand, they were so slow. Not so here. They seldom land, and it is very difficult to hit them with a fly swatter even when they do. But the most amazing thing is that after I have hit them and they are lying on the floor dead, they resurrect. I was beginning to suspect that I might have some burgeoning healing gift. I would go to pick up a dead fly to throw it in the trash, and it would fly away. However, Trudy attested that this is typical of Southern Hemisphere flies, and they behave that way, too, in Australia where she grew up.

The day before Trudy arrived I was able to do my first Peace Corps “good deed”. I had arranged for a representative of the King’s Foundation to come and train members of the community how to use a base pack of sports equipment that the foundation provides for persons interested in reaching youth in their communities. Ten people representing three communities Digawana, Gopong, and Molapowabojang met at a local day care center for the training and received the base packs.
King's Foundation Base Pack

One person operates an English medium preschool, another is helping start a new church and has been assigned to teach a Sunday School class of youngsters aged two to fourteen, and the other is the chairman of his Community Support Group for HIV/AIDS and Community Development. In the next couple of weeks I will get the opportunity to visit their sites and see them using the equipment with the children and youth in their local settings.

Two things are on my mind these days, water resources and solar cooking.
Even teachers must carry water
 Everyone knows that water is a challenge in Botswana. People in each community have developed their routines for managing the interruptions in water availability as they occur. At Ntwalang Junior Secondary School where I work, they have had to truck water in every day since January. It is an overriding concern in a boarding school that houses and feeds over 350 students and feeds an extra 350 for lunch every school day. I keep wondering if anything can be done to address this problem. My other question is, how we can use the abundant sunshine to make life easier or at least less expensive for people in this community? Jim has been sending me links about solar cooking, and two days ago, my 15 year old neighbor and I went to the library in Lobatse to use the free wi-fi to do some research. We were greatly disappointed to discover that the internet wasn't working at the library that day. We will try again when we get the chance. I really hope I’ll eventually have some interesting things to write to you about these two topics. Patience and Perseverance will Prevail!!!!


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