I will start with a quick word about two very sweet Zimbabwean women that I recently met.
The first I met yesterday while walking home from the NGO. She was a sweet older woman who came up to me and asked if she could do some work for me ("a peace job"). We talked for a little while and I learned that she had only come to Botswana the day before with nothing but a small bag of clothes and she needed money for food. I felt compassion for the woman. Regrettably, I didn't have any work for her to do (without water on the compound I couldn't ask her to do my washing etc). Alternatively, I offered her some of my (precious) stored water to drink and went through my kitchen to gather food for her. Although I am in desperate need of going food shopping myself, I managed to give her a package of pasta, some soup, and an assortment of fruit. She cried. Before she left, I helped her register her SIM card for her new Botswana cell phone and took the number in case I can help her in the future. If nothing else, at least she knows there is someone here that cares. Everyone deserves that. I consider that something to be happy about.
And then today, another sweet woman from Zimbabwe came to me and said she has seen me around the village and wanted to know what I was doing here. I explained to her about Peace Corps and the work that I am doing at my NGO. She then asked me if I was available to work with others in the village because, she said, she had skills she wanted to learn so she could help people. After inquiring further, I learned that she had left Zimbabwe with her four small children as a refuge of abuse. She has the hope of some day starting a support group for battered women. At this point, the only thing she is armed with is a passion to help and the knowledge that you can escape and live a better life. I have agreed to assist her in whatever way I can. At this juncture, I am making an appointment for us to go in and meet with a women's shelter in Gaborone to learn about services and then we will move forward together.Next, I want to share about an upcoming event that I am putting together. The event will be in Kumakwane, the village that I was originally placed in. Essentially, I met someone a few months back that is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) that served in Botswana some years back. She has some friends traveling around Southern Africa and one of the stops will be to Botswana. As part of their tour, they want to do something to give back and this is where I come in. The RPCV contacted me a few weeks ago to tell me that her visitors want to donate soccer jerseys and equipment but they didn't know where to do that. I suggested some teams from my old village and quickly contacted the PCV that is there to see if this was feasible. It was and event planning was underway! So... what the event will be is a "Community Health and Wellness Event", with the main activity being a community-wide soccer game following a speech by the Kgosi and the presentation of the donations. The game will bring all the teams together, ranging from soccer players 4 years of age to "older adults", to play as a community. The rationale behind having them play together instead of showcasing individual teams is that it takes an entire village (literally) to stay healthy and that we are all part of a team. We will also have people there to conduct HIV tests and to discuss nutrition with the villagers. Everyone coming together, everyone participating, everyone learning how to stay healthy, and everyone responsible for each other as part of a team.
In follow up of previous posts, I thought it right to apprise you all about the family I have been working with in our home-based care program. If you may recall, the family is a very sick mother, her five children (and one deceased daughter), and her two grandchildren. They live in a one-room house and are completely destitute. I am happy to report that, after telling their story to people from all around, we have finally found someone (a group of someones, actually) who are willing to take their cause on as their own! In other words, an acquaintance of mine and his church group in Gaborone have decided they would like to help the family get a better life. They have begun doing research and getting quotations to put a pit latrine in on the plot and then, once that is underway, will start gathering resources to build a house for them. When he told me that they had agreed to take this monumental project on, I literally cried. I cried for days because it is so powerful and so important and will make such a huge difference in the lives of this family. Words cannot describe how amazing this is and the magnitude of their generosity.
And finally (for now), is something I have alluded to since my birthday... Unfortunately for you all, it will remain vague and undisclosed until next week buuuuuuut, for the past few weeks, I have been coordinating an event for "High Level Visitors" from the United States who will be visiting the country. Yes, these high level visitors are grand enough that it requires confidentiality of the highest degree. But I can say that I have had the opportunity to meet and work with some amazing people with some pretty fancy titles from big-wig offices around Botswana and America. So how did this super secret event come about? Well, I was contacted by my Country Director about the potential opportunity and he asked me to fill out a fairly extensive report/proposal to be reviewed and evaluated. After that submission was approved, we went on to a number of site visits and interviews before being accepted as the event for these high level visitors. This is a huge deal, as we are literally the only event that is being held for them and our proposal beat out many from distinguished global organizations. I am feeling extremely blessed to have been chosen to represent my organization, my village, Peace Corps, and my country and am excited about the fantastic program that we have put together! This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am beyond grateful for it! I cannot wait until I can announce it and share in the excitement!
So that's my "quick" update... There really is so much to be happy about these days!