Thursday, January 26, 2012

Day 300 in Botswana!

Today marks my 300th day in Botswana! If that's not cause for celebration then I don't know what is! High fives all around!

and (for those who are counting) only 66 days until the one year mark... then 492 days until I come home... Wow.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Cape Town, South Africa Trip

I intended to write this post immediately upon my return to Botswana, however that plan was quickly tarnished with all the hoopla of my site relocation. Sigh. But even all that chaos cannot put a damper on the amazingness that was my vacation to Cape Town!

This year, I rung in the New Year with a week-long trip to Cape Town, alongside 14 of my Peace Corps friends! I had expected to be somewhat overwhelmed in coming to Cape Town, having been away from that sort of life since moving to a rural village nine months prior. While I was awe-struck in seeing multi-story buildings, street signs, and abundance, I was surprised as to how fast I adjusted back into life in the fast lane. It was welcomed and exciting. I think we all felt this way about this respite. It was a week full of gluttony, as we ate delicious meal after delicious meal (everything from McDonalds breakfast to sushi to Mexican feasts); vanity in long days of shopping, manis and pedis, and Thai massages; relaxation on the coastal beaches; and an over-indulgence in wine, nightlife, and adventure! What follows is a picture tour of the highlights from the trip:


In the end, the trip was exactly what we all needed. We were able to get a glimpse back into the lives we left and feel connected to who we were before coming here. And then, in the end, we were able to come back rejuvenated and with a renewed sense of what we are doing here and who we have become.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Moving day is upon us (and other questions answered)

I have been getting bombarded with questions about my pending move. When is the move? Have you told the kids in your current village? Have you talked to your landlord yet? Have you asked for a dog? Which one? When do you start your new job? Well, the time has come to answer all of these questions for you (realizing that things may change at any moment because that's the nature of the game here). So here I go:

1. When is the move?

Without going into specifics, there have been a handful of moments where I thought everything would derail and my excitement would be squandered once again. This is why I haven't been quick to respond to questions - I wanted to make sure there were somewhat concrete things to share first. There finally are! This morning was the final government inspection on the house in Gabane and it passed! There are a few things that the government wants done to the house (mostly in terms of painting and minor repairs) but I agreed that they could be done after I move in. As such, they went ahead with finalizing the contract this afternoon so it looks like it should be a done deal very soon. The DAC is arranging transport to move my furniture and things to the new house and they expect that to happen either Thursday or Saturday of this week. (Wow) I am frantically packing up everything I own here and cleaning my Kums house, while also trying to spend adequate time saying goodbye to both the Kums Kids and my other friends in the village.

2. Have you told the kids in your current village?

I thought the stress would be done once the site was determined and a house was found but that's just not the case. Goodbyes are hard, especially when they involve children that may or may not understand, and lots and lots of tears. But, yes, I have told the kids. I just posted about Bokena's reaction from yesterday. Telling the rest of the kids today (about eight of them) was no easy task either. There were many hugs and a few tears, followed by them pushing the limits of ruckus and wild behavior while we played games and colored pictures. I expected all of these things but it was still difficult. I'm going to miss these kids so much. But I have a date to play with them again tomorrow after school - we're trying to pack in a bunch of play time into what time we have left.

3. Have you told your landlord yet?

Well, yes and no. The DAC told the landlord last week and then I sent the landlord a message about also wanting to talk with her about my leaving. She said she was out of the village (my landlord is working in Jwaneng, a village a few hours away from Kumakwane) but that she would be back on Monday (yesterday). I have yet to see her. So my landlord does know but I haven't been able to catch her for a face-to-face. Sadly, I heard from the DAC this morning that my landlord is being a bit of a pill about terminating my lease early so I'm guessing she's upset. I really would like to see her so I could talk to her about it in person. I don't know if she would better understand or not but it would make me feel better to express my gratitude for the time I have spent on their compound.

(In a similar vein, I have been having trouble locating my current counterpart to discuss the move with him. He's been spending most of his time in his home village and I haven't been able to reach him on the telephone, neither through sms or phone calls, so I finally had to write him an email to explain the situation. He never responded. After days (maybe weeks?) of trying to get ahold of him, he finally called this afternoon. He didn't want to discuss my moving at all but rather the Botswana Zebras football match against Ghana tonight. I think he will make a much better friend than a coworker/counterpart so I'm going to accept that and be okay since I will be moving anyway. Peace Corps is going to address the messy bits with him for me.)

4. Have you asked for a dog yet? Which one?

I have not asked for a dog yet because I have not seen my landlord. As much as I would love to take one with me, I am not sure I want to ask for one. There are a lot of trips that I want to take and I am not sure it would be fair to get a dog knowing that I would be leaving it for days on end. I also don't think I could have a dog for fifteen months and then just leave it, especially knowing how the majority of dogs are treated here. I think it would be too sad.

5. When do you start your new job?

As soon as I get moved over to Gabane and get settled! I am really looking forward to it!

I think that's it for now! Once I get the final move date, I will post about it. Also, stay tuned for pictures of the new pad and my reactions to living someplace new (again).

Saying Goodbye to Bokena

Last night I had to tell Bokena that I will be moving from Kumakwane. It may have been one of the harder things I have ever had to do... To make sure that she understood what was happening, I asked a friend to come over and help me by translating my goodbyes to Setswana. Together, we told her that I would be moving down the road to a nearby village, meaning that within a week I would no longer be living in my house in Kums anymore. Most importantly, I wanted him to tell Bokena that I would be near enough to visit her and that I would come as often as I could. Almost immediately she burst into a fit of tears. She threw herself on me and sobbed. As I am sure you can guess, this made me bawl uncontrollably. I kept telling her "ke a go rata" ("I love you") and that we would still see each other. After some time, she stopped crying. We were joined by some of the other kids and we spent a couple hours playing games, dancing around my house, "oohing and awing" at Mythbuster episodes, petting the puppies on my compound, eating popcorn, and singing "I like to move it move it" (Bokena's current favorite song). When it was time for the kids to go (mostly because it was dark), I went to give Bokena our customary hug and secret handshake and she grabbed hold of me and started crying again. We sat on the stoop of my house for another half an hour crying together, her sitting on my lap and nuzzled into my shoulder. I explained, once more, that this was not goodbye, especially not then, and that I would see her the following day. After this pep talk and another quick hug, she went home.

Wow. Saying goodbye to Bokena was so hard. So so hard. And I know that it is not really goodbye yet because I will see her today and tomorrow and this weekend and periodically for the next fifteen months. I can only imagine what it will be like when my time here is up and I don't know when I will see these children again, if ever. They have become such a part of me that imagining not seeing them is unfathomable. For now I am seeking comfort knowing that I will only be about 10km down the road...

(Next up... telling the rest of my Kums Kids)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Resolution: Gabane

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, and children of all ages, the circus is finally coming to a close. No, not the Barnum & Bailey Circus but the bedlam that has been my Peace Corps existence for the past seven months. This is most excellent news and I am beyond ecstatic to share it.

This morning I went with my Assistant Program Director and the Safety and Security Officer to Gabane to meet with the NGO and to see the potential house they had identified for me. All I have to say is "brilliant"! The NGO is amazing. The buildings are covered in paintings of Disney characters and there were dozens of adorable children running around. The staff was unbelievably welcoming and seemed so passionate about the work they are doing and about collaborating with other organizations and clinics in the village. They have clear ideas for what I can do and I see perfectly how I can help them in those projects. Their excitement was contagious. I felt inspired walking through the NGO's compound (which was huge, with a lot of space for playing with the kids and for other expansion and/or income generating projects).

A few hundred feet away, was an adorable house, also on a large compound. They said that house was the one intended for me. Be still my heart, it is ADORABLE. I could hardly believe it. The compound, as I just mentioned, is very big, with shade trees and a breathtaking view of the mountains behind Gabane. Inside the house was every bit as wonderful. It's quite large for a Peace Corps house, with two-bedrooms and a large living space, a great kitchen, and a fireplace (don't judge this component, in the cold winter nights this could be a godsend). In terms of safety, police officers live on both sides of the house and a really sweet girl about my age lives across the earthen road. It is really comfortable. (Did I mention that there is a beautiful view from the house? Because there is.)

The energy everywhere I went, from the NGO to the house and throughout the village, was beyond measure. I literally thought I would cry with happiness and with relief. I am feeling like all of the hard times that I have gone through were worth it. This feels like a blessing and exactly where I am supposed to be right now.

So what is next? The Safety and Security Officer approved the location and the NGO has been approved by my APCD, the CD, and now also by my Assistant Program Manager so now I am waiting on a phone call from my Country Director to give me the final word on when I will be moving. I was advised that it could be as early as tomorrow but, more likely, will be this weekend. I have to finish packing up my house and I have to sit down with my counterpart from the NGO that I am leaving and with the rest of the NGO staff, as well as with my landlord and explain to them the move - at this point they have no idea. These conversations are going to be very difficult. I then have to hug my kids and tell them that I won't be at my house anymore. I am using the caveat "won't be at my house anymore" because I intend to visit Kumakwane and spend time with them regardless of the move. It is still very close so this is possible. There is a lot to be done and a lot to let go of but I finally feel like I am moving in the right direction and that I might make the impact that I have been hoping since arriving last April (and even before).

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Yet Another Update: Gabane

Alright folks, it's time for yet another update on the potential site relocation. And I have to say, I am feeling pretty good about this update and am excited to share it (albeit with some hesitation, only because the story has changed a few times in the past and I fear getting too excited about anything until it's all set in stone but alas, here I go anyway).

This afternoon I spoke with my Program Manager (APCD), my Country Director (CD), and the Safety and Security Officer for Peace Corps. They met with two NGOs in Gabane: one orphanage and the other a home-based care organization. While both have a lot of potential as places that I can do valuable work, both my APCD and my CD believe whole-heartedly that the Gabane Community Home-Based Care Organization is the right fit for me. (And, after hearing everything, so do I.)

The Gabane Community Home-Based Care was started as a support group for HIV positive people in Gabane by two very passionate people, both who still run the organization (big plus). It developed into a home-based care program and then, recognizing the need to help the children that were being affected by HIV, they expanded to include an OVC center. The NGO is currently serving about 40 OVC between 3- and 6-years-old. The founders said they would like my main role to be expanding programming to include programs for youth between the ages of 12 and 16. They have a facility that could be transformed into a youth center and six computers that could be used to teach computer skills. They also boast land for a permagarden and access to other buildings for expanding services. I would also be able to do work with the OVC center and help with administrative organization and general systems strengthening. (Super exciting!) Whats more, the NGO is a community-funded project. (Hooray!) The majority of the funding comes from the Pelegano Crafts Village, which is a conglomerate of local artists, craftsmen, and artisans. As I mentioned before, I previously visited this place and met with the potters to discuss assisting them in designing a website to showcase their work. This means that I definitely can still help with this project.

In reference to the other NGO, they currently have a German volunteer that is helping with the preschool program so they aren't in dire need of another volunteer. My APCD believes, however, that I could help with fundraising for that organization (they need a lot of help in that area). My CD also thinks that the German volunteer and I could be fast friends and that would help with getting comfortable in a new village (probably in part because we're both white but that's neither here nor there, funny regardless).

I am going tomorrow with the Safety and Security Officer to see a potential house. Fingers crossed that it's somewhat nice and really safe and wonderful. If it is, I think I will be moving in the next week or so. I will keep you all informed! 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Time to Confront this Head-On

I am a rule follower. I am patient. I respect authority. I take direction. I do not like confrontation. But I am here to tell you, in writing so that you can all hold me accountable, I will be my own advocate. I am tired of getting pushed around and taken advantage of. I am tired of feeling like my time and my skills are being wasted. I am tired of playing by the rules and waiting to see how it will all turn out. And I am tired of keeping a smile on my face and staying optimistic when I am constantly being disappointed.

Why this firm stance and change of heart? Because I finally racked up the courage to go directly to our Country Director to discuss my looming site relocation and to clarify the situation from my perspective and it turns out that we are no closer to a resolution. He apologized for this "unfortunate situation" and then he informed me that, not only does he not want me to move to Mogoditshane (for all the reasons that I have previously mentioned), but he also does not want me in Molepolole because there are too many volunteers there (currently eight). He then stated that he believed my APCD was looking into another potential NGO in the village of Gabane... (deep breath) ...and they may want me to commute from Kumakwane to Gabane if this NGO seems like a good fit. (Excuse me?) First it was Molepolole (back in July before they opted to keep me here) then it was Mogoditshane then back to Molepolole and now Gabane via Kumakwane... What next?

Now, this is all still in hypothetical terms so it could change at any minute, as it has so many times before. There is no actual movement in one direction or another - it's just talk. I was told that either my Country Director or my APCD will call me this afternoon to discuss other potential sites and what they have uncovered in terms of NGOs. More talk. Don't get me wrong, I like talking but I am tired of it. I have been in country for 288 days, that's nearly ten months. I should not be in limbo anymore. I am tired of Peace Corps going back and forth on the subject. I want some sort of resolution so I can feel secure and move forward into the rest of my service. I think I deserve that much.

Ultimately, my fear, as I have tirelessly expressed, is that I will have been in country for a year or more before I get settled into a new site. This is not fair. I have been flexible, patient, open, and positive through all of this. I have held onto hope and small victories. I have believed that it will all work out. (And it will or I'll be damned!) But enough is enough. I am going to push and prod and talk to whoever and do whatever I need to do to get this ironed out as soon as possible. No more waiting...

After the fact note: I just got off the phone with my APCD. She is waiting to hear back from my District AIDS Coordinator about organizations in the district but, in the meantime, she met with an NGO in Molepolole today to discuss potentially putting me with them (kind of a waste of time if you ask me since my CD doesn't want me there but oh well). She is also going to look into two NGOs in Gabane that I had sent her contact information for (exercising my right to be proactive). Unfortunately, she told me not to expect a call from her until after next week Tuesday but that she hopes to have options for me to visit by then. Fingers crossed.

After after the fact note: Once again I am feeling like things might work out for the best. While it's true that this could just be my optimistic nature at play again, nevertheless, I am feeling pretty good about things. In talking with a fellow PCV this evening, I told her that I had spent some time in Gabane and that I had felt it was a wonderful little village (and had actually thought to myself some months back that I should move myself there). I have made friends with some women in the village from the cultural arts center there who had invited me to come and learn how to throw pots on the wheel. In exchange, I offered to help them set up a website to advertise their work. Since then, I have gone back a few times to meet with them but the electricity has been out and so on. Moving to the site could provide a better opportunity for me to work with them. Still the same, I am going to do my best not to get my hopes up, as has been the case in the past. One thing at a time. But, for the first time in a while, I'm really truly feeling like things will work out. I am going to see to it. I also want to state that, in trying to bring myself back to "om", I re-read my Aspiration Statement that I wrote before coming to Botswana. In re-reading the aspirations that I had for my service and the goals I made for myself both personally and professionally, I realize that I have already accomplished most of them. Despite all the ups and downs, I have achieved much more than I realized (and I'm not just referring to time spent with the kids). This is a pretty exciting realization and one that brings me great comfort.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Heartening Words from a Friend

My friends are amazing. I am not sure how I got so lucky but I have been truly blessed.

My mentioning this could be referring to any number of times that my friends have been there for me and gone above and beyond to show their support, but this time I am talking about the outpouring of love shown yesterday after I posted about the insanity that is my site relocation process. Most comments got me fired up - made me want to fight and kick and scream about everything that I have gone through. (So needed and appreciated.) But one note, in particular, made my heart smile a little and helped calm my spirits. I wanted to share it on this blog because I am sure it will serve as a reminder of this crazy journey in the years to come. My friend's words deserve that kind of recognition.

Thank you my friend. Your words are too kind. I am eternally grateful for you.


I have a case of whiplash. Why? Because I'm being yanked back and forth by the site placement/reassignment gods (aka Peace Corps).

As you know, a few days ago I was told that I was moving to Mogoditshane. I went to the new NGO, I wandered around the village, and I looked at a potential house. Afterwards, I had a discussion with my APCD about the move and I expressed a couple concerns but then, this afternoon, I told her that I was excited about the possibilities in the village and was eager to go. She told me that I would be moving within the next two weeks. I began packing. I packed and packed and had most of one of the rooms organized into boxes and ready to go. I was getting ready to start in on another room when my phone rang. It was my APCD. The phone networks were being screwy so everything I heard was choppy but it sounded kind of like "Senior staff met... Mogoditshane... Molepolole... what... your interests..." and then it hung up. A few minutes later I received a text message from her explaining the call. Essentially she said that Peace Corps' senior staff had met and decided against moving me to Mogoditshane and would start looking for potential placements in Molepolole instead. She said that the decision had been reached in part because of safety concerns that I had expressed earlier (I mentioned them because I had been told there were rough areas and to make sure my house was in a safe location. Apparently our safety and security officer met with the police today to discuss this and find out where was acceptable to look for house - I'm guessing they said it wasn't so safe. Shouldn't they have looked into this before having me go to the site?!) and in part because they don't want to have volunteers in the village in the future since finding housing is so difficult and they don't want spillover of volunteers in Gaborone. So where does this leave me? Well, if I believe what Peace Corps is saying right now, then I may be moving to Molepolole (a village north of me) to work for a yet unidentified organization that may or may not work with orphans and youth (per my request). If I don't trust Peace Corps yet because this yo-yo game is giving me a headache, then I am in limbo again and unsure of what is going to happen next. Right now I just hope that things get sorted out quickly. In three months I will have been in country for a year and, at least in my opinion, it is absolutely unacceptable to still be dealing with this. Now the question becomes: do I scream or do I cry?

An Update: Goodbye Preparations

I have been getting a lot of messages from family and friends asking about my impending move so I thought an update was in order...

I met with the new NGO on Monday alongside my APCD, the PCVL, and two program staff from the Peace Corps Zambia office (who were here for on-site training). We asked a plethora of questions about their mission, current programming, funding sources, and their need and vision for a Peace Corps Volunteer. It turns out that they are an extremely nascent NGO - far from what was described to me in my initial meeting about the move. I learned that their funding is contingent on a number of factors and that they are lacking in systems and a strong foundation, making it hard for them to move forward. They also stated that their intention for a PCV was to have them be a preschool teacher. However fun this might be, that is not within the scope of my job. We had a frank discussion with them about the role of a PCV in capacitating host country nationals, meaning that I could help the teachers become more effective by doing trainings with them, helping design curriculums, and assisting them in program development etc but that I could not be a teacher solely. They claimed to understand but still seemed very unsure about the way forward. (This is common among organizations that are getting their first PCV but unsettling nevertheless.) All of this made me extremely anxious about the move. I immediately felt like I might be making a move from one ineffectual site to another. This is worrisome, especially given that I have finally found resolve (and secondary projects) at my current site and do not want to start over after being in country for so long only to be frustrated and disappointed once more. (Not to mention the fact that I hate giving up on anything, ever. Maybe I'm overly dedicated once I start something but it's hard not to see it through.)

That being said, having had a few days since the meeting to let it all resonate has helped improve my perception and restored my faith in the potential good I can do. I am optimistic once more! I now recognize that the staff (mostly volunteers from the support group) are passionate and they are motivated. I believe they will take direction well and be open to what I have to offer them. And, although there is a lot to be ironed out, I can see the challenges the organization is facing and how I can help. This is huge. For this, I am grateful. I am also fortunate that the village is large and has a lot to offer. There are many schools and NGOs and other things to get involved with. So, at the very least, even if the NGO is a major flop (which I doubt), there is so much potential there that not all will be lost.

The next big challenge before I can make the move is finding housing. Because the village is so close to the capital, people often live there and commute for work. We saw one house during my visit on Monday but it was unfinished and overpriced. The NGO and Peace Corps are both fervently looking for other potential houses for me. Additionally, I have put out feelers to people I know in the area to help me find potential housing options (that fall within the confines of Peace Corps' housing policy). The hope is that we will find something suitable within the next two to three weeks so that I can make the move by the beginning of February.

My APCD instructed me today to start letting go of my life in Kumakwane. She said she can tell that I am still holding on. My response was that I have been disappointed before and that I am content in my village and don't want to let go until I know there is something positive to move towards. She seemed to understand my sentiments but continued to echo her call for my release. In my effort to do so, I am going to go to Mogoditshane tomorrow to sit with the people at the new NGO and then to walk around the village and start to acclimate. I am emotionally prepared to do this much. The hard part will be letting go of a place that has felt like home for the past seven months and to children that have truly become "mine". It is going to be a sad day when I have to take my pictures down, remove the drawings the Kums Kids have made me from my walls, and pack up my things. It will be even sadder to say goodbye to my friends and this village that I hold dear. I imagined this day and knew it would be hard but, when I pictured it in my mind, it was 17 months down the road. So I will commit to taking it one step at a time and ease my way into it, letting go bit by bit. I know this is movement in the right direction but, even still, change is never easy.

The Development of "Irrational" Fears

Peace Corps is very concerned with safety and security. Rightfully so since it is responsible for its volunteers who are scattered in rural areas across the globe. Throughout our service, they have constantly warned us to be "vigilant" and have given us entire packets full of security plans in case of an emergency. Their concern with safety and security seems to be mirrored by the Batswana's own preoccupation with it. (I predict that the concern is spillover from South Africa.)

In Botswana, houses have bars on the windows and doors, sometimes even on internal doors between rooms, and many houses have high walls with barbed wire and/or spikes atop them. I have been warned about running in the lands or hiking the Kumakwane Hill because of the threat of "rebels and thieves". And, by no means, should you ever be outside after dark unless accompanied by many people, particularly of the large and strong manly type. There are so many precautions to be taken that it can drive a person mad.

Botswana is pretty safe, folks, and I cannot even begin to fathom "a rebel" - I mean, this is a country where their "violent strike" included singing and dancing. Even still, the incessant warnings from Peace Corps and Batswana alike have weighed on me (all of us for that matter). And now, despite my having no evidence that any of these things are necessary, after nine months in the country I have started to develop my own fears about the potential dangers. For example, I always have my burglar bars on my door locked, even when I have the door open. I also never leave my compound after dark without an entourage of people or guaranteed and secured transport.

The other night, a friend of mine came to Kumakwane from Gaborone (about 21km). He came around twilight and stayed to take pictures of the full moon, to hear about my pending move, and to hang out for a while. When he was getting ready to go, I started to get really worried about him driving home. After all, it was dark and there might be animals on the road and it would certainly be extremely dangerous for him to be traveling. (For Heaven's sake, buses don't even travel after dark!) He assured me that he would be fine and that he would drive carefully. Even still, I fretted. (Danger danger, driving at night is dangerous!) He sent me a text when he got home to ease my worried mind. (Thank you!) And then it dawned on me... I used to drive at all hours of the night. There were deer on the road and dogs and cats. There were still stupid drunk drivers. None of this is unique to Botswana. Why was I fearful now? Will this be a fear I carry with me for some time when I get home? And what other fears might I slowly develop in my time here?

At least I can finally say that my fear of ridiculously large and hairy spiders is gone...

Photo © Tuan Van Dyk
Kumakwane, Botswana

Thursday, January 5, 2012

"Welcome home... now it's time to pack"

No, it is not quite as dramatic as this post title indicates but, nevertheless, that is essentially the comment that I came home to...

This morning, just ten hours after returning from a week in Cape Town, South Africa (more on this in another post), I received a telephone call from my APCD ("Program Director") telling me that I needed to come into the Peace Corps office to discuss my site placement. More specifically, about relocating me. (What?! Now?! Ah!)

Now, for those of you who have stuck with me and know about the trials and tribulations of my work at site, you realize that this has been a constant discussion for the past seven months but that nothing has happened and I have been in a state of perpetual limbo. I had become resigned to my NGO being closed and focusing more on the happy things about living in my peaceful little village of Kumakwane, like playing with the Kums Kids and my compound dogs. The idea of moving at this point made me feel anxious. Hadn't this been what I had thought needed to happen since July? Why was I feeling upset? Shouldn't I just feel relieved that some progress was being made? Why couldn't this have happened when I told Peace Corps so long ago, before I had made these connections and fallen in love with my sleepy little village? Maybe I was feeling this way because I received the phone call while I was laying in the shade with Bokena and two of my dogs. I took a deep breath and decided to keep calm and go straight into the office and hear what my APCD had in mind. I got up, dusted myself off, hugged Bokena, and boarded the next bus towards Gaborone.

An hour later, I met with my APCD. She explained that we had labored long enough, had exhausted our options, and that I had put in enough effort - it was time to move on. (It's true.) In association with my Country Director and the District AIDS Coordinator, my APCD had decided that the best thing for me and for fulfilling Peace Corps' mission to capacitate host country nationals was to relocate me. What this means is that, by the end of the month, I will be relocated to Mogoditshane (a large village just outside Gaborone, essentially a conurbation of the capital, with nearly 45,000 people) to work for an NGO that is both a support group for youth living with HIV/AIDS and an orphanage/halfway house for children. They want a volunteer to help mentor their teachers and work with them on ways to effectively communicate and motivate children and youth. This is definitely an area of interest of mine and I think that I can be beneficial in that capacity. (Bonus: they have motivated staff that have worked very hard to secure funding for the next three years and to expand programming. Yes!) As my APCD talked to me about the organization, the anxiety started to fade and  the more comfortable I started to feel about the move. There seems to be a lot of good that I can do there. (Not only that but there are a lot of other options for projects in the village, including schools, other NGOs, and a rehabilitation center for youth.) So far, everything sounds fantastic and something that I could really get behind.

Even still, I am somewhat apprehensive about the move. While it's true that the organization and the work sounds like exactly what I would love to do right now, I am content in my village. I have made friends and created a foundation here. I have friends and a community and some projects that I don't want to walk away from. My house is wonderful and truly feels like a home now. I have become accustomed to living a rural life where everyone knows me and I can hear my name being shouted by the Kums Kids from the moment I step off the bus or out my door. It will take some adjustment and will be a challenge at first I am sure. But I am reminded of my Peace Corps Recruiter, who told me that she had been moved during her service. I recall her saying she felt similarly to how I do now - mixed emotions, sad and speculative of the change, and excited to see another side of Peace Corps life. This brings me comfort. I know that I am up for this and will do my best to make the most of it.

In the end, I am sad to be leaving a village that I love so so much but I am also excited about the potential for the next 17 months of this journey and am hopeful that life at my new site will be every bit as wonderful as my first seven months have been in Kumakwane.

And, for those of you worried about my Kums Kids, have no fear! I intend on packing up my backpack full of toys once a week or so and coming to play with them! It's not too far away and those kids are far too special to me to lose touch...