Tuesday, February 12, 2013

"Terrific Tuesday" Tales

I entitled this post "Terrific Tuesday Tales" because today's "tales" (i.e. updates) are terrific... and it is Tuesday. Self-explanatory, I suppose, but I felt it warranted pointing out. This is most likely because I felt a desperate need to use an alliteration but wanted to let my readers know there was a reason for it and not just because I'm a great big dork (which I am). (Don't judge me: I worked at a summer camp, I make friendship bracelets with every kid I know, and I hang out with children every day - it's practically a prerequisite to like alliterations and other goofy things!) Honestly, I called the post this because I wanted to very simply "shout out loud" that life in the village is moving ahead terrifically!

For starters, I was awoken this morning by a phone call from my Country Director. He called specifically to discuss my application for extension. He clearly stated that our post is still waiting for funding approval for future extendees from Headquarters in DC and therefore cannot officially issue offers for third year extensions to anyone yet, but that he wanted me to know that my application was very well done and that I am "a highly qualified candidate" for my proposed extension. He went on to say that discussions about placement for all volunteers who are selected will begin as soon as the funding is approved. Knowing more about the process and the stages makes a huge difference for my mental well-being as I approach our COS Conference and look towards the next year. I feel like I can breathe a big sigh of relief knowing that I will likely be continuing the great work being done in Botswana for a third year. (I hope!)

Next, an update on my house-building project. As things so often go, costs of materials have fluctuated (mostly on the upswing), which has caused some delay in purchasing the last of the pieces we need for the house. That being said, we are moving forward with the project and should only be delayed about a week. The cement has been laid for the walls and floors, the windows went in today, the doors and locks (extra heavy duty) should be purchased by Thursday and installed over the weekend, and then all we have left to do is link the pre-existing single-room structure to the newly built home. We are doing this by putting a tin roof cover between the buildings and laying concrete between them. We are also going to construct a small outdoor kitchen in this section. This is a significant improvement for the family, as they have currently been preparing all meals over an open flame outside. Also of improvement, I was able to get mattresses donated for the family. That means that each of those children will have their very own mattress in their new home. Far cry from the blankets they share curled up on the floor right now! Finally, as I mentioned before, the hole for the pit latrine has been dug out and we have purchased the bricks and cement to build the structure. We have manpower together to construct it over the weekend as well. So, barring any further delays, we are hoping the entire structure (sans electricity at this point) will be ready for "handing over" by the end of next week. Wow.

Some months back, I wrote two proposals to a local foundation. I hadn't heard much since submitting them, despite many attempts to follow up with the foundation. That is until this afternoon when my phone rang (yet again) and I answered to find a representative from the foundation on the line. She was calling to inform me that the selection team met earlier this morning to discuss the first of my proposals, which requested a combi (van-like vehicle) to transport the children and patients that are enrolled in programs at my NGO. She went on to state that, after much discussion on my center, they were awarding us our request! This means that my NGO will be getting a shiny new (BRAND NEW) combi! This will help us so much. Not only because our current combi is ancient and costs us a lot in repairs, but also because we have created an income-generating plan for our old combi. Although it has "old car" problems, it's still operational. We are hoping to rent it out for a small daily fee, renters paying for petrol and maintenance, which would be able to go back into programs and increase our sustainability. But, no, the greatness of this phone call does not end here! The foundation representative that called went on to say that a visitor I had hosted at our center spoke highly of our work and our proposal was so well done that they are going to move it to the top of their list to review at their next meeting in May. She insinuated that they already wanted to approve it! The foundation needs to clarify some of their policies on their funding but, if this does happen, my NGO stands to get operational costs, including staff salaries (everyone is unpaid and works voluntarily right now) and two additional staff positions to alleviate the burden and scale up services. Now wouldn't that be a huge leap forward for our center?!

Finally, I am helping to organize an international public service program for a distinguished businessman who contacted me specifically because of the work I have done and asked for my assistance. Although I can't get into the specifics quite yet, the program will be aimed at educating people on grassroots development and hands-on service and hopefully create a global environment for giving back. Stay tuned, especially other PCVs because I may be calling you to host a small gathering or talk at your organizations to discuss the work you and your centers do!

In the words of my NGO's coordinator... "We just have to sing and dance and make a joyful noise!" Today's been a good day!

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