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!

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