Ghanzi is located on the western part of the country near the Kalahari Game Reserve. It’s a very diverse town with Batswana, San, Afrikaaners, and foreigners everywhere. It has a small town feel, very comfortable, but with a lot of amenities. It is truly a nice place and I immediately liked it.
We spent the first two days at shadowing going to different NGOs in the area, and talking with them about their work in the community and also going to scheduled meetings (one of which was with the Office of the President to plan a national wellness event and candlight ceremony to honor those with HIV/AIDS and promote healthy living). I had mixed reactions to our meetings that caused me to really reflect on what I want in an NGO placement and what my concerns may be. More specifically, I saw organizations without staff to effectively run programs, inactivity and apparent indifference, and volunteers having to do everything at the office (isn’t this about capacity building?). I also saw amazing organizations with inspired people and heard great success stories. Honestly, it just gave me a lot more to think about in terms of what I want so I could be armed and ready to discuss it with my program director at our upcoming placement interview.
After all these meetings, we also had the opportunity to have some fun. This included shopping for San jewelry and baskets, visiting D’kar (and going to their art exhibit and museum), meeting local friends of current volunteers, and then going to see lions! Seeing lions was a lot of fun and we basically got a private tour of the refuge (thanks to two Bots 9 volunteers who set it up!). In addition to lions, we saw impalas, ostriches, wild dogs, and a variety of really cool birds. (Yes, some bragging about seeing wildlife did ensue when we got back to the training site! Lions! Ah!) We ended the day by meeting up with all the volunteers in the area at the Kalahari Arms (a local lodge) to hear about the individual experiences, meet a few new faces, and eat some delicious food. It seemd, all-in-all, everyone had a ton of fun!
Four days later, at 5 am, we boarded the bus for another hot, sweaty, crowded seven-hour drive back to Kanye.