I have been on cloud nine lately. My successes have become plentiful and my joy abounding. Things have truly come together for me in a really positive way, both in terms of my life and my projects, and I couldn't be happier. The latter, in particular, is what I wish to share: project successes!
The Scout troop that I am working with has reached a new high. First, our normally small group of 25 kids has grown to over 60 kids attending each meeting this term with many more pounding the pavement to sign up. The kids are not the only ones who are excited to participate - we have had six new teachers ask to participate in one capacity or another! This is a far cry from our initial months, where the other PCV and I felt like we were pulling teeth just to meet with a single teacher to get things off the ground. And, as if to reward our troop for its efforts, we won a prestigious award for the school. The award totaled BWP 12,000.00 (a ridiculously huge sum in Botswana!) and our troop has also been invited to compete against other troops from the area next week in two categories: marching and entertainment/drum-line! The kids and teachers have been meeting every single day after school to practice and are looking ready to strut their stuff! This is huge for our troop, which only started this past term! Go Segoditshane Scouts!
Gabane Community Home-Based Care
As I mentioned a few days ago, my NGO in Gabane was selected as one of only ten organizations as part of the Southern African Development Community's HIV/AIDS Fund, which aims to strengthen CBO/NGO organizational capacity for the HIV response in Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. I did not confirm to the blog-o-sphere but we did receive the official invitation from SADC and went to the welcome banquet and continued assessment interviews yesterday in Gaborone. These interviews went swimmingly! The women from my NGO also were invited (as part of this event) to attend an introductory workshop led by notable experts from Southern Africa on a variety of topics, including: leadership and governance, financial management, and aligning programs to Botswana's National Strategic Framework.
Today, when I came into the NGO, the women that had attended the workshop were already elbow deep in the notes and powerpoint slides they received yesterday. They were going through the papers and "studying". I sat with them to help clarify some of the details and translate some of the jargon. After some time, the women stopped and looked at me with a sense of urgency then proclaimed: "We are going to work very hard to learn everything and prove to these folks that we are the best out here - that we want to learn and we want to do more. That way, when the training portion is over and they are looking to help with funding, they will know they can trust us to get the job done and do our best." My heart skipped a beat - this is every Peace Corps Volunteer's dream come true. And, the best part about it, I know that they mean it and that they truly will do everything in their power to make the most of this opportunity.
BOCAIP Tumelong Counseling and Childcare Center
It has been a long time since I have mentioned my old NGO in Kumakwane. As you can probably recall, it closed many months ago. This was devastating, not only because it meant that I had to move from a village that I loved so much but also because it meant hundreds of children would be going without the care and services they desperately need. Not wanting to see this happen, I continued working on proposals up until the minute I left but, sadly, had not heard anything from those submissions. Well, yesterday I received a call from a friend from Kumakwane that I used to work with who informed me that Tumelong was being repainted and cleaned up. I immediately asked for more details. It turns out that one of the proposals that I had written before moving had finally come through! The NGO now has funding to run the daycare center and the afterschool program for an entire year! (Note: the funding will carry them through June 2013, my expected end-of-service date! Hooray!) The facility is getting polished up and ready to re-open next month! That means, once again (and finally), that all my Kums Kids are going to have a place to go for food, psychosocial support, and fun! We did it!
Basically, what all of this means is that all of my service's key projects, even those that I thought were long gone, are having a banner month and I am reveling in their success!
Happiness is like a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne