Thursday, July 28, 2011

Routine of Happiness

I am falling into a routine of happiness. Now that my work here has meaning and things are starting to get accomplished (albeit slowly), I am feeling less anxious, more relaxed, and at peace with myself. Getting to this point is monumental because I am able to embrace happiness. For instance, this afternoon I taught a group of village kids how to do some basic yoga. We laughed together hysterically as they tried out different asanas. My sides ached by the time they left. Afterwards, I did a full 120 minutes of my own yoga practice and felt free and rejuvenated to the point that I had a dance party with myself. I rocked out around my living room to Amadou & Mariam (and only after realized that I probably looked like a crazy gypsy to a passerby that looked through my open windows). As I write this, I am smiling from ear-to-ear, eating some fruit, and drinking a big glass of red wine. I like this new routine. I think I'll keep it.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

"The world always looks brighter from behind a smile."

It seems as if something about me has changed, almost overnight. I say this because, after months of walking the same paths and standing at the same bus stops and being ignored, laughed at, or harassed (one extreme or the other), today I finally engaged in my first positive and congenial conversations with people that could potentially become friends. Yes, multiple conversations and multiple people.

I could tell that I was greeting people with a little more fervor than usual (in part because I'm happier since things are starting to improve and, in part, because I was on my way to a meeting at the Red Cross in Moshupa that I was very excited about, but mostly because I had just consumed a copious amount of coffee). I recited the customary greetings but, this morning, I took the bait and engaged in continued conversation until I had all but exhausted my usable Setswana. In doing so, I met a handful of really wonderful people, including a man from Kanye (where I did training) who stays in Kumakwane (my village) that used to host Peace Corps Volunteers when PC first returned to Botswana a decade ago. With each person I met (at the bus stops, on my walks, and at the meeting), I could feel a weight lifting off of me and a glimmer of hope that I may actually make friends here. These individuals were engaging, insightful, and extremely sociable.

We were cautioned over and over again during PST to be prudent when meeting people and not to befriend people haphazardly. To this point, I understood the warnings. Meeting people that are genuinely interested in you (and not requesting money or a date or personal belongings) is somewhat of a novelty. (Read: hadn't happened yet.) But today, for whatever reason (be it my change in demeanor or attitude or otherwise), I met a handful of people that showed bona fide character and that I can see myself befriending.

It may seem like a small victory but, to me, it's monumental. Smile on!

Monday, July 25, 2011

All Smiles on the Southern Front

I have a big smile on my face. "Why" you ask? Because, after all my fretting and contemplating, things are seeming to be moving in the right direction! There are three major things to note. They are as follows:
  1. When I walk through my village, I hear all sorts of children chanting "Tija! Teeeja! Teeee-jaaaaa!" in the distance. Sometimes they aren't even coming to my house to play, they are just yelling my name. I can't blame them, it's a cool name (thanks mom and dad), but it's also sort of exciting because they used to call me "Mary" (the other PCV in my village) or "lekgoa" (vomit from the sea, aka white person). Not only that, but when they actually are coming to see me, they know and can greet me with both my names (Tija ka sekgoa kana Kamogelo ka Setswana). This makes me feel really welcomed and happy. Sure, they may be a third my size and may only be using me for playtime but, so what, they like me! It's community integration from the ground up! (And, if nothing else, it's hard to be lonely when you have two dozen children knocking at your door!)  :) 
  2. I have officially started a second project - working with the Botswana Red Cross, Moshupa Division. I spoke with my Program Director today and she is working with the Red Cross Director at the Headquarters in Gaborone to define my role and is essentially giving me free rein to decide what activities I would like to be involved with at the Center. I am going to a staff meeting tomorrow and intend to speak with the Center Coordinator about where I can be of the most assistance. From my initial meeting with her, it sounds like they primarily need help with fundraising and development but that I may also be able to aid efforts with coordinating OVC (orphan and vulnerable children) programs, mentoring, and support/counseling services. I am excited to start working there because there are dedicated volunteers that have been at the center for 30+ years and motivated staff and youth volunteers that are ready to be capacitated. This will be a great opportunity to work with people that are as inspired to help as I am.
  3. Things are continuing to improve at the NGO that I have been working at in Kumakwane. After my meeting with the Coordinator, I was not sure if the enthusiasm would be short-lived or if things were actually improving. Today he proved to me that they are, in fact, getting better. The Coordinator took initiative and started writing a proposal to request funds for food and transport for the OVC Feeding Program. He also made a follow up call to the funder to double check some information on the proposal and to make sure our request was within their funding areas. After the call, he came and met with me and then went back to work on the proposal, telling me that he would get me a first draft by Wednesday and was hoping to have it finalized by Friday! This all happened before I even had a chance to ask him about it! Holy initiative batman! I was shocked and oh so happy! I'm so so so thrilled that something I said stuck with him. If things continue this way, we will have the Center up and running again in no time!
Oh, happy day!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A Friendly Reminder (For Myself and Others)

‎"If in our daily life we can smile, if we can be peaceful and happy, not only we, but everyone will profit from it. This is the most basic kind of peace work."

I believe this principle should be the foundation for everything we do. Helping people, influencing the world, and creating peace does not require a great sacrifice or grand undertaking. We can all do our part and make a difference in someone's life simply by being present and showing them a smile. It may be the only genuine contact or sincere gesture they receive all day. And, in the end, it could be the one thing that saves their life. Sometimes it's the smallest acts that are the most powerful.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Plans and Proceedings: Hope Restored

It has been deliberated, a decision has been reached, and I can start settling in again! Yes, I am referring to my permanent site placement and my Peace Corps future...

After consulting with my Program Director, the District AIDS Coordinator, and a number of other interested parties, we have decided that the opportunity for me to have the greatest impact and help the most people remains at my site in Kumakwane. I will continue working with my NGO in an effort to secure funding, rebuild their programs, and (hopefully) expand their reach. I will also start working at the Red Cross in Moshupa (a neighboring village) to help them fundraise and build an OVC program as well as assist a startup NGO in Mmankgodi (a rural village about 10km or so away).

Although the decision was mostly mine and I intended to fight for the good of the NGO, this decision was still met with mixed emotions for me. I was excited to stay where I am because I have started to integrate into my community and I am so comfortable in my village but, at the same time, I was anxious because the issues would likely remain the same and would be extremely limiting. This was definitely going to be a challenge but, with any luck, a rewarding one. (About luck... My dad always used to tell me that "luck is the product of skill, hard-work, and determination.") With that in mind, I decided to get to work creating some luck for my NGO.

On Wednesday morning (the first day back after the holiday), I went in and requested a meeting with the Center Coordinator to let him know that a decision about my placement had been reached. I explained to him that the decision to keep me there was not taken lightly and that it would be contingent on creating a sustainable organization in the upcoming months. I showed him the strategic and resource mobilization plans that I had finalized and discussed implementation. I created a grant matrix to track funding opportunities and explained how he would need to be proactive if we were to succeed. And then I told him (deep breath) that I hoped Peace Corps and I would not regret the decision to keep me there (gasp) and that his active involvement would be pivotal. He agreed and then went on his merry way (and I went to start looking for funding opportunities). A part of me was optimistic that this would help and we could start moving forward but a bigger part of me believed it was all talk and that things would never change. Much to my relief, the rest of the week has restored my hope!

That same day, the Coordinator looked at a number of proposal guidelines that I had sent him, made contact calls with potential funders, set up meetings to discuss opportunities, and talked with staff about my involvement in helping save the organization and their required participation. Taking heed to that, one of the counselors asked me to help her set up an agenda for a workshop that was days away (something that is normally done minutes before). Work was getting done! And the next day, the Coordinator went and had a meeting with one of the potential funders and then sought me out to discuss what he learned and begin drafting a proposal. At the same time, preparations were continuing to be done for the upcoming workshop instead of being put off until the last minute. And finally, yesterday, I was asked if we could plan a timeline for working on and submitting proposals and if there were any trainings I felt they should participate in or things I could teach them to help staff do their jobs better. (GASP! Asking if there's work they could do to make themselves work better?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! I was floored!) I'm not sure what exactly it was that brought on this wave of productivity but, if it continues like this, the NGO is going to be alright! (Of course, there were far too many tea breaks for my liking and about half the staff still just sat around but this was a huge improvement and I couldn't have been happier.)

Today I am going to the Moshupa Red Cross to help with their OVC Kids Club. I think playing with some kids is the perfect way to end this satisfying week...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

‎"My satisfaction comes from my commitment to advancing a better world"

This weekend has been full of ups and downs (and by "weekend" I mean Saturday to Tuesday since it was a long weekend in Botswana to celebrate the Presidents Holiday). Over the course of four days, I have gone from feeling blissfully happy to extremely frustrated to calm and content to sobbing my eyes out. And today, more specifically, has been a roller coaster.

I woke up this morning feeling rested for the first time in a while. For all intensive purposes, I was pretty happy. My weekend to this point had been very fun - I had seen African animals, eaten delicious food, spent time with friends, and thoroughly cleaned and re-organized my house. And now I had a big cup of dark roast coffee sent from home to drink and the whole day ahead of me. What could go wrong, right? Well, I sat down with my coffee and a big bowl of granola with yogurt to watch a few episodes from season six of Weeds when the next thing I knew I was feeling overcome with homesickness. Yes, it was brought on by seeing Seattle in the episode I was watching but the nostalgic feeling was compounded with something much deeper than that. Today was the first day that I felt a real sense of calm when I thought about actually going home.

The thought of going home and being with and helping the people that I love was overpowering. The truth is that being here right now feels stagnant and, if there's one thing I learned from my dad's death, it is that life is too short and too uncertain to waste, especially if what I'm doing is not moving things forward in some sense. I feel like most of the people I am working with don't care if I am here other than the fact that they are happy I'm doing their work for them. My reason for coming was to help people and the message that Peace Corps has been constantly reiterating is that our mission is to capacitate host country nationals to improve their own lives. If the people I am working with are not interested in the slightest then I am setting myself up for disappointment in this arena. It's hard because I felt purpose at home, even in the times when I wasn't feeling totally fulfilled. It just got to the point today that I truly felt like if what I do here won't matter in the end, and if things will be no different if I were here or not, then I don't see the point in struggling through everything when I could be happy and with the people I love. So, basically, I'm trying to find a way to remedy that and see if there's a way my two years here could possibly matter in the end. And that was in the dark moments of today...

In my better moments of the day I was able to take comfort in the strength of my mom, who has been able to carry on even in the hardest times; smile in the humor of my sister, who has always been able to put me at ease; and find solace in the words of a friend, who said "The first few months will be hard... And maybe your organization will not make a lasting impact. But focus on the small things you can do, and all the little impacts you can make, and how this experience, be it positive or negative, will enrich your life... [focus] on each person here and there, the kids you can give candy to, etc, and then the big picture just doesn't matter anymore."

In the end, the things that are upsetting me are evidence of the need for help here. People are stuck in a way that is destructive (both in their actions and inaction). I may not be able to help everyone or magically transform them into faithful employees and partners, but I may be able to help a little. In truth, I came here because I want to see the world become a better place. This has always been my passion and I am dedicated and committed to doing my part here. Yes, I have my work cut out for me but I hope with all my heart that I can do something, however negligible it may seem to be, that will be meaningful and powerful. So I'm going to take the bad parts of the weekend and turn them into fuel for my mission. Because, after all, "My satisfaction comes from my commitment to advancing a better world." (And all the small things are sure to add up!)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

My Three Besties in Kumakwane

These are the three little ones that visit me every day. They have turned into my besties in Kumakwane. When they come over every afternoon, I scrub their little hands, I feed them a snack (because it breaks my heart to see them going through the garbage scavenging for food), and then we play. We usually have a ruckus game of frisbee, we play catch, and we jump rope. If it's not too late, we come inside and color, look at pictures, and have a dance party (to Amadou & Mariam, a duo from Mali). Outside of their hungry tummies, they are three of the happiest, sweetest, and most joyous kids I have ever met. They are very precious. I'm lucky to call them friends.

Some things I like most about Botswana from my first 103 days

Simple in appearance
Subtle in design
The framework of a friendship
That ages like fine wine

It is the simple pleasures
That makes it all worthwhile
Sometimes just a sunrise
Is enough to make me smile

So much is in the watching
Or listening to nature’s voice
And knowing when to stop
And realize you have a choice

Take some time to just step back
And just take in the view
It’s about the simple pleasures
That all of us once knew

by Robert Longley

Some of these simple pleasures that remind me that I am fortunate and are among my favorite things from Botswana so far are...

mugs of martinis... motse lodge... rain storms... roaring thunder... baby goats... traditional dancing... finding botswana bliss... making new friends... my host family... sunsets... meeting michelle obama... decorating... the desert race... "thata thata thata" and "too much miss"... (multi-) cultural exchange... learning to cook new things... eeyore donkeys... jello shots... mutual frustration that ends in laughter... magwinya (the kitty and the dessert)... care packages... yoga... smiles from the orphans... the skies... black label... african wildlife... the compound dogs and their puppies... my donkey "custard"... hobnobbing with madam ambassador... bonfires... chicken pies from the takeaway... W.W.L.D.... ceilings... mafhikana movie nights... the kumakwane hill... kesaobaka's birthday party... the "aish" business plan... classy tassy... the stars... the neighborhood kids... and mostly my bots 10 family... 

The Cycles of an Overactive PCV's Mind

I know I have said it before but, in the interest of stating it's contribution thus far to my experience, I'll say it again: Peace Corps gives you a lot of time to think (perhaps too much). There is a lot of down time and a lot of alone time at site which leads to an over-active mind. (I think it leads to this, and can be somewhat troublesome, because the type of people drawn to Peace Corps are usually outgoing, inquisitive, motivated, and adventurous. We are the type of people that seek things out and want to know and do more all the time. So, when we are given extensive time to just sit, we have to occupy ourselves with something: thinking.) Having all the time in the world to sit with your thoughts elicits a lot of emotions (that continuously cycle without notice).

At first, having alone time was only a blessing. We were relieved to have control again - it was a break from the monotony of pre-service training and all that entailed. For two months, we had been consumed with classroom sessions, group assignments, language study, field work, and living with a Batswana family. We had a regimented schedule and not enough time to just sit. We were on overload and so the quiet afternoons and dormant nights on our own were welcomed. We were able to calm ourselves down, think and do things our own way, and get back into our own grooves.

And then we found that having nothing but time yielded an over-active-mind-game, which had the potential to drive you insane. It could make you question your decision to join Peace Corps, it could make you over-analyze every relationship or thought or belief you have ever had, and it could drive you to drink just to escape the over thinking. (I say this last point in jest but, as a group, we have actually joked about the potential reality of it on more than one occasion...) Basically, you have more than enough time to let your mind wander anywhere and dwell on any number of things. It takes a strong will to focus those thoughts so they don't become destructive. In an effort to combat this, most of us consume ourselves with books and movies and sending sms's to one another to remind us that we're not alone out here. These things serve as an escape from our own thoughts and occupies our latent hours.

And finally, we hope to find peace. And I don't mean "world peace" (although that would be great too). What I mean is that feeling of contentment where you can sit idly with yourself and your thoughts in peace. In all honesty, some days I feel completely content and am blissfully happy just for existing and then other days I have to consciously force myself to this place, if I get there at all. (Remember, I said this is cyclical so it's a constant re-commitment to service and to myself.) I am doing a little meditation, a lot of yoga, and a ridiculous amount of soul searching on this quest for inner peace. At this point, what I have realized about myself (outside of the fact that I'm somewhat OCD and that I can cook) is this: It doesn't matter what I do in life if I am not surrounded by people that I love. Even the most meaningful work can feel meaningless without those people. They are who make my life complete and who fulfill me. Although I do not doubt that my work in Botswana will be extremely compelling to me (and hopefully to others) and that I will remain dedicated and passionate about helping people, it is realizations like this that will probably have the largest impact on my future.

In the meantime, I will sit and think and ponder... or go play catch with the neighborhood kids.

"When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others."

Saturday, July 9, 2011


For those of you who follow along about my life on Facebook, I feel I owe you all an update on the status of the NGO I am working for because I have made vague mention recently about some problems I have been facing. For those of you who have not heard yet, things are rather unsettled for me these days.

First off, I would like to start by saying that communication is a big issue in Botswana. People here do not like confrontation so they opt instead for omitting information, sugar coating, avoidance, and general passive-aggressive behavior. The reason I am mentioning this before I go into detail about my NGO's current situation is because the problems we are facing right now have been a long time coming and could have been navigated had they been addressed, or at the very least mentioned, when I came over a month ago. Additionally, I would not be quite as worried about the survival of the NGO if I could count on the staff to be upfront and proactive. As it stands, however, that may not be a reality here.

So here is the situation... About ten days ago I found out that the funding cycle for the primary funder of my NGO, Project Concern International (PCI), was coming to an end on July 1st. PCI would be supporting the NGO for the following two months to wrap up reports etc but that program funding was complete. Outside of one request that the outgoing PCV and I worked on with them in May, there had been no efforts made to secure additional funding. (Note: in following up about this proposal, I have learned that the funder made site visits a few weeks ago to the organizations they were interested in partnering with - we were not included in those visits.) What this means for the organization is that the staff would no longer be getting paid, the programs would cease, and the OVC (orphan and vulnerable children) Center at my NGO would be closing indefinitely. This means that the 78 children that are currently utilizing our center will not be getting fed (they eat two meals per day there) and they will not be getting psychosocial support (for either being affected or infected with HIV/AIDS - 21 of our 78 children are infected). (That does not even include the roughly 500 children that come in and out of the center for after-school care and homework assistance and the 109 HIV/AIDS infected adults that receive counseling and support through the NGO.) This is devastating for the children and for the Kumakwane community.

I have been vehemently working on a strategic plan and a resource mobilization plan and meeting with the board, the staff, and a number of consultants in an effort to find a viable solution and keep the doors open. As it stands, within two months the NGO will be out of money for rent on the facility, for staff salaries, and for continued programming. Efforts by the staff to thwart the problem have been negligible at this point, although I think the magnitude of the situation is starting to weigh in on the board chairman. At a board meeting yesterday, he begged the present board members (only 3 of 7 showed up - typical) and the Center Coordinator to take ownership of the NGO and recognize the need for the children to pursue partnerships and keep the organization alive.

It may be too little and too late at this point. The reality of receiving enough funding before everything dries up is dismal. Best case scenario is that we can put together some proposals and rub elbows with people that can help us in the interim so that the NGO only closes for a short time and not permanently. I don't even want to discuss the worst case scenario.

Now here is where I get even more unsettled... The potential for my organization to go under is impacting the permanency of my site placement. I have been meeting with my Associate Peace Corps Director (APCD) (basically a Program Director) about the situation and we have been monitoring it and trying to decide the best next step. I have two options: One, remain at the NGO and try to see this through, knowing that the organization will close for at least some time and that it will be a battle to get the necessary funding and that I will be doing the majority of the work and carrying a large part of the burden. Two, I can be reassigned and start over at a new site and a new NGO.

There are moral dilemmas riddled throughout either choice we make. If I stay where I am (at a site that I love, in a house that I love, and with people that I am finally becoming friends with) then I can potentially save an organization and help these children get food and care that they need. To do this, however, I will be taking on the workload and essentially running the NGO. This is not in accordance with Peace Corps principles. I am supposed to be capacitating people so that the work can be sustainable. This NGO has had PCVs in the past that have done a remarkable job in training and working with staff but the staff has not made an effort to continue the work on their own. The NGO will most certainly face this exact same situation when I leave in two years. The reason I came to Botswana was to help people and to make a sustainable impact - these two ideals are in contest right now with this option. (And that is if I am even able to secure funding to re-open the NGO in the upcoming months. If not, I would be reassigned.) However, if I leave Kumakwane and move forward with my Peace Corps service in another site, I may have the opportunity to work with inspired and involved Batswana who I can really work with and teach so that at the end of my two years they are able to continue helping people in their community. Peace Corps would have to take great care in reassigning me because it is a costly and timely process that they would not want to do a third time so the chances of my working with a more stable organization increases. The risk is that I may not like my site or my house or the people I am around as much as I love Kumakwane, I may not end up working with people that are motivated, and I may feel a sense of disappointment that I wasn't able to help the children from this first NGO. (Although, I have already decided that whatever choice is made, I will continue to help out here by writing proposals and assisting with systems development and implementation as a secondary project because I believe it is that important to try.)

My APCD told me that she would be looking into the situation more and pondering the best next move over the weekend and that we would meet again on Monday. (I am also meeting with someone from the NGO's national organization on Monday to try and get assistance for the NGO from them.) I am hopeful that we will make the right decision, whatever that may be, and that I can feel a sense of calm again. It is very hard being this unsettled. I will keep you all posted...

Thursday, July 7, 2011

My Day-To-Day Life: A Reminder that Every Coin Has Two Sides

Yes, it's true that I have had some fun adventures since coming to Botswana - I saw lions in the Kalahari, the longest off-road race in Africa was in my village, and I met the one and only Michelle Obama. And, yes, it's also true that I have a lot more exciting events ahead of me - New Years in Cape Town, lounging on the beaches of Mozambique, and riding the sand dunes in Namibia. But the pictures and the stories that grace your computer screens do not accurately represent my day-to-day life during this adjustment/assessment phase between pre-service training and in-service training. What takes place most days is something much quieter, simpler, and much more lackluster.

Most days start at 6 am when I get up to turn my geyser on so I can have warm water to bath. If I can stand it, I mosey around my cold house, usually wrapped in a blanket, (remember, it's winter here right now and they aren't kidding around about its frigidness) and I get water on the stove for coffee, I check my email (the internet dongle is fastest first thing in the morning), and I take the dishes off the drying rack from the night before. Then I do some yoga before putzing around for a while longer (because it takes the geyser a long time to heat up). By around 8 am I am able to bath and by 9 am I am out the door to the NGO.

The walk to the NGO takes about 20 minutes. One of the dogs that lives on my compound, Timmy, has started taking the walk with me and is basically attached to my side the whole time. (This is kind of an oddity around Botswana because people and dogs don't have that sort of relationship but I think it is kind of precious and he is truly my best friend in the village right now - literal meaning of "man's best friend".) I usually pass about a dozen people on my way there. I shout greetings in Setswana to everyone but only the people at the General Dealer ever engage in any form of dialogue with me (meaning they say "dumela" and then they will ask how I am - "le kae?" - but the conversation stops there - but I am grateful even for that much).

After a few weeks of awkward conversation and near silence, the people at my NGO are starting to warm up to me. Walking in and seeing their smiles is one of the highlights of my day. In part because it's nice to see friendly smiles (and they may actually be becoming friends - could it be true?!) and in part because it's quite possibly going to be my only real human contact of the day (outside of sms'ing). We exchange greetings in both English and Setswana and then I pester them about finishing a report or a project or ask if they have followed up about x, y, or z. Then, if possible, I'll do a little something around the office (today I moved the desks around for a big meeting we were having, I cleaned and organized, and I worked on a strategic plan for the organization). By this point everyone has returned to speaking Setswana in a pace much too fast for me to catch even familiar words so I usually go sit down and read a book (I'm currently reading The Invisible Cure by Dr. Helen Epstein) and anxiously wait for something I can help with or teach someone about. Sometimes I go for a walk around the village to try and meet people (i.e. community integration). I am still somewhat of a spectacle around Kumakwane (lekoga on the loose) so I get mixed reactions when I walk around (some people smile, kids run over to me and poke my skin, others stare confusedly). Then I come back to the office and eat lunch and hang out for a while in relative silence.

At around 3:30 I wander from the NGO back towards my house. I try to take a slightly different route each day so that I can see more paths around Kumakwane and try to say dumela to new people. Usually this walk involves a pack of kids that follow me giggling and asking where Mary is (another PCV in the village that works at the Junior Secondary School). When I get back to the compound I usually try to say hi to the neighbors (also my landlord and her large family) and pet all the dogs (there are four plus seven new puppies). Then I go inside, turn on some music, and clean things that are already clean. Sometimes I jump rope for a bit or I'll do some more yoga to kill time. After a while it's time to make some dinner and calculate the time difference to the west coast to see if my mom or my sister or a dear friend might be online to chat with me and tell me happy thoughts from home. If I can time it right then I will go online and chat with them for a while, otherwise I grab a blanket and watch a movie on my laptop (courtesy of the magical external hard drive of love and media). By 9 pm I am thoroughly bored and get ready for bed.

Basically, what I'm saying is that despite all the super fun tales of African adventures, my daily life is very uneventful. It consists mostly of sitting around mixed with a little capacity building and some attempts at community integration. It's a mentally draining time. We all try to combat it with a hike here and there, a good book, the promise of an upcoming event, and small successes. It is in these moments that we are reminded that we are lucky and that things will get easier. We will get used to the new pace of life, we will figure out our organizations and how we can help, we will make friends with that stranger in the village, and we will be okay. But the in between stuff gives us time to think (too much). So the moral of this story is this: for all of you that we left at home, for as much fun as it looks like we're having please remember that there are hard times and lonely times too and knowing that you're there for each of us makes all the difference in the world.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Perplexing Botswana Observation #586

I know I haven't blogged about the previous 585 perplexing observations but, trust me, I have made them and will get around to sharing them eventually (I have two years so fret not friendly followers)! Perplexing Botswana observation #586 is purely dietary. It is this: the Batswana diet consists almost entirely of carbs and starches (in large quantities) and they put massive amounts of mayo and ketchup (mixed together) as dressings on said carbs and starches. And yet somehow, completely out of my realm of understanding, they are not massively obese. In fact, I have seen some of the skinniest people in my entire life walking the paths of my village. It is remarkable and utterly perplexing. If someone can explain this phenomenon to me please speak up. In the three months I have been here, I have most certainly gained weight. I want in on whatever the Batswana have going for them!