Sunday, March 31, 2013

Pelegano Village Industries

I love Gabane. I believe it is a very special village and I feel privileged to call it "home". I actually take pride in it. People hear me clamor on and on about all the great things in Gabane and I am constantly inviting people to come and see and experience it all for themselves. Peace Corps Volunteers in Botswana know there is an open invitation to visit me. Among the things I share with all visitors are our community hangout, where people come to braai and relax together, and our artist colony, Pelegano Village Industries.

Pelegano Village Industries (PVI) is a community-based artist colony that houses artists and artisans and showcases their work. Included in the compound is work related to: arts and crafts (pottery, glass art, and fine arts), textiles and embroidery, manufacturing, welding fabrication, and the like. All of the products made are created locally and made by Batswana in the village. Places like this are unique in Botswana, as many of the crafts sold here are brought in from other countries (namely Zimbabwe and Kenya). At PVI, however, you can meet the craftsmen and, if you befriend the right people, try your hand at some pottery or learn a thing or two about textile paints. Watching beautiful creations come to life and chatting freely with those making them is a perfect way to spend an afternoon in Gabane. And, what's more, the proceeds from sales at PVI goes back into local projects like the one at my NGO.

I recently got the opportunity to share this unique experience with a group of fellow Peace Corps Volunteers who came to visit. Some of them were buying souvenirs as they prepare to go home to America after so long living abroad. Others tagged along to see what I had been bragging all about for so long. Regardless of their reason, no one was disappointed in coming.

The PCVs were overwhelmed by the beauty of the crafts and excited to meet the artists. The energy was palpable, both in the PVI compound and among my peers. Getting to come and see all the different crafts and the kind people that make them was exciting for them and seeing their faces light up as they frantically chose items to take home with them was rejuvenating for me.

This is why I rave about Gabane - it is a special place. Now these PCVs get one of the many reasons why I love my village. Those staying in Botswana will be back... with friends (and more pula)!

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