Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Hosting America's "Important People"

A few weeks ago, my Country Director called to tell me that a Congressional delegation of US Senators would be coming to Botswana and he wanted to find out if I would be willing to meet with Embassy staff to discuss hosting them and their wives for a day. Of course I said that I would. But, after that phone call, I heard nothing. I figured they had designed a program for the Senators and their wives that didn't include me, a lowly Peace Corps Volunteer living in a village. I shrugged and went on my way.

Two days ago, after spending my morning at the NGO, I received another phone call. This time the call was from one of the women I work with. She said, in a somewhat confused-sounding voice, that staff from the United States Embassy were at the NGO and asking to meet the Peace Corps Volunteer that works there. I quickly tried to collect myself and scurried out the door and down the path towards the NGO. And, just as she said, there were two Embassy staffers in the office waiting to talk with me!

The Embassy staff and I had about an hour discussion regarding the needs in Botswana, specifically the Gabane Community, and how the efforts of my NGO cater to those needs. We talked about the hardships in our community and how we would like to do more but the resources aren't available so we do as much as possible to help. I was asked what the NGO would need to fulfill our vision for services. You could see the staff becoming emotional as I explained the realities in the village - they are so different and devastating than the bubble over the capital city shows. Then I was asked what my personal goals are in terms of helping this NGO and Botswana as a whole. And then, finally, we discussed the delegation that is coming. In the end, the Embassy staff extended a hand and an invitation to help with a day of the program being laid out for the Senators and their wives. (Opportunity accepted!)

Now I am working on designing a day where I introduce them to the Gabane Community and the work being done here (and in villages like ours). I intend to bring them to my NGO so they can do an activity with the orphans and see for themselves what that reality is like and also participate in something hands-on. We will also visit a few of the home care patients so they can see the efforts being made to care for people infected with HIV/AIDS in Botswana. And, lastly, we will go to a cultural village to give them a taste of the rich traditions and history of the Batswana. They will have the opportunity to see traditional dance, try some local food, and purchase hand-woven baskets or pottery. A little bit of seriousness, a little bit of fun. I think it will be a really great day for the Senators, their wives, and for the people of Gabane. I am so excited!

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