Monday, April 9, 2012

Botswana Basics

Hello friends, family & loved ones! 

The time has finally come for me to leave on my Peace Corps adventure. I have thrown together some information for everyone to try to keep us all on the same page. Within hours of leaving, I am getting excited!! 

1. Description of service

Country: Botswana
Program: HIV/AIDS Capacity Building Project
Job Title: Community Capacity Builder
Dates of Service: 4/12/2012 - 6/10/2014 
Orientation Dates (in the US): 4/10/2012 - 4/11/2012 
Pre-Service Training (in Botswana): 4/12/2012 - 6/10/2012 

Primary Duties: 
Community Capacity Building for HIV/AIDS (CCB)

The majority of volunteers in this program are placed at the village level, although there are a few placements in the District level clinics or health and social work offices in larger towns. Several of the villages are the most remote sites in Botswana, two hours from another volunteer, without cell phone coverage or internet access. Normally, volunteers at the remote sites go into a larger town for shopping once a month where they also access phone and internet. The key project partners at the national level are the Ministry of Local Government (MLG) and its Department of Social Services and the Ministry of Health. Volunteers can expect to work with a variety of governmental and non-governmental counterparts and primarily be place with a village-level clinic or social and community development office (S&C/D). In some smaller villages, you might work closely with the clinic and the social work office, but you will be officially reporting to one or the other. You will be assigned to a clinic or social work office near the end of pre-service training once we get to know you, your background, and match that with our available sites. 

The CCB job is generally not office-based; therefore you should be self-driven and motivated. If you are someone who needs daily assignments and people checking on your progress regularly, this is not a good fit for you. Peace Corps volunteers in the CCB program function primarily as Community Health or informal social workers, with a specific mandate toward building capacity and systems of individuals and government agencies working to respond to the impact of the epidemic. It is expected that volunteers will undertake a thorough community entry process, learn Setswana and be able to function independently in their towns or villages. 

For more information about Peace Corps in Botswana, this link will take you to a Welcome Book with plenty to read! 

2. Blogging! 

I will still be blogging throughout my journey in the Peace Corps. I am unsure of how often I will be able to update my blog, so I would like to encourage you to follow my blog by email if you are interested in keeping up to date with my life. Here is the easiest way to do that:

-just a little way down the page, on the right hand side you will see something that says "follow by email"
-type your email into that box & press submit
-type in the verification code (to prove you are not a robot :-D )
-an email will be generated from Feed Burner and sent to the email address you entered
-check your inbox & open the email from Feed Burner
-click on the link to verify that you want to receive updates from my blog

Once you follow those instructions, you will be notified by email whenever I update my blog. The email is typically sent out the day after I write a new blog post, but either way, you will be notified that my blog was updated. This is easier than trying to check it for updates :-D 

3. Contact information 

The best way to contact me will be through email. I will be using this email account for the majority of my Peace Corps correspondence, so please update this in your contact list! 

As far as mailing things to me, the address listed below is the best way to go. This address will only be current during training (don't mail anything here after June 10). I will be assigned to my new site after training, so my permanent address for two years will be sent out as soon as it is available. Until then... 

Tate Van Winkle 
c/o Peace Corps Botswana
Private Bag 00243 
Gaborone, Botswana

Also, mail seems to be fairly reliable. It takes about 10 days to ship something from the U.S. to Botswana. 

In terms of phones, I will be issued a new cell phone for my service in Botswana. I will send out that number when it becomes available. It is free for me to accept calls but it costs quite a bit to call back home from Africa. Regardless, we can figure things out. Families and friends should be advised that buying an international calling card might be the best way to go... 

Skype is one last thing I will mention. It has been discussed by current volunteers as the best way to communicate. If you have skype, add me as a contact (tate.van.Winkle is my user name). 

4. Other important things
-keep in mind that I will try to stay in touch as often as possible, but be patient because communication won't be the same as it is here
-I will not be able to use the internet/make phone call during the first two weeks.We will all be unable to use the internet, etc. because our focus needs to be there (rather than clinging to back home)
-After the first two weeks, I will have internet access several times weekly until the end of training
-Please keep ME updated! I want to know what's going on back here. I will miss you very much and stories always help! 
-it is 3:46 a.m., I just recently finished reading, and my flight leaves at 11. 

Good night (or maybe should I say good mornings?) my beautiful friends and family!!! :o) 
Thanks for all of the love, continued support & encouragement. 
I couldn't do any of this without you! 

Love & Light, 

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