Monday, May 28, 2012

Time is running

As my host mother likes to say, “auntie tah-tee, time is running. Where is it going?” Tate is not easily pronounced here, so tah-tee it is. I couldn’t possibly agree more with my host mom. Days are slipping away from me so quickly!

Last weekend, we had the opportunity to visit the Bahurutshe cultural lodge. Upon arrival, the Kgosi greeted us with a traditional dance which was followed by dances put together by his children and grandchildren. The people of Mmankgodi village also shared various cultural practices; grinding sorghum and preparing traditional tswana foods, singing songs, and explaining customs behind marriage and harvesting crops. Although it was a bit touristy, I definitely learned a lot about the culture in Botswana and since then, I actually have a greater understanding for some of the everyday things I see in Kanye. 

learning to grind sorghum

beautiful attire! 
another traditional way to grind sorghum
sifting the sorghum grind
the kgosi teaching lucy & jeff a traditional game
preforming traditional dance! 
I was chosen to try to learn their dances.... ha! 
reading the bones... it's a custom to do this before the wedding
At the beginning of last week, I met my counterpart, Constance. She is a nurse at Kang Clinic and she will be the woman I primarily work throughout my two years. Constance is a midwife and focuses a lot of attention on the PMTCT program at the clinic (PMTCT stands for Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission). When I came to Botswana, I was really hoping to work with mothers who are HIV positive and Constance seems really excited to get me involved with programming. HIV positive mothers are enrolled in the PMTCT program to help reduce the risk of infection for their unborn child. I’ll explain much more about it in a later post…The clinic is very large compared to the ones I have visited already; we have 15 nurses, 3 doctors, 2 lay counselors, and a few on cleaning/maintenance staff. Constance’s humility amazes me- she speaks five different languages fluently (English, Setswana, Sekgalagadi, and two others I can’t remember?), she’s trained and qualified for a variety of nursing programs, and she’s eager to learn more in the future. Her ambition combined with my enthusiasm will hopefully lead to some great things in the future :o)

Constance, my counterpart at Kang Clinic
The only downside of meeting with Constance was learning about my housing situation… which is to be determined. :o) Counterparts are in charge of finding housing for Peace Corps volunteers. It’s not quite like the United States here, you can’t exactly move at the drop of a hat. Moving takes planning, planning, and more planning. There aren’t extra houses, apartments or condos to move into. As I’ve mentioned before, I am not replacing a volunteer in the clinic, so they are struggling to find housing to fulfill Peace Corps’ requirements. At the moment, I’ve been told that they have found the home they want me to move into, but I still don’t have any furniture or electricity. Details. :o) Electricity is not a requirement from the Peace Corps, but almost 90 % of volunteers currently have electricity. The catch is that they are NOW (this is very recent) required to provide a refrigerator because the climate is so hot during the summer, food will perish too quickly without a fridge. My counterpart really wants me to have a fridge run on electricity (rather than gas) because it is cheaper and more convenient.

Long story short? I have no clue what house I am moving into when I arrive in Kang. If all else fails, I will temporarily be staying in the guest room of the other Peace Corps Volunteer in Kang. We shall see! You’ve gotta love the suspense… I think I may be getting used to it :o) Cross your fingers I will have a home!

This past week, I think most of us went through our “post-honeymoon phase.” Everything is real, exciting, inspiring and wonderful for the first six-eight weeks, and then.. well, it’s not so great anymore. The truth is that most of us hit a wall this past week and all of the commotion has finally caught up with us. We’re tired and overwhelmed. My mom called me this week when I was at my all-time low and talking with her was really helpful.  What I’m going through right now isn’t horrible at all, and what’s even more important to realize is that it isn’t any different from a “down day” that YOU would experience in the states. Everyone has their moment and mine was last week. The group went in waves – some of us were still honeymooners, while others were very “blah”, and then suddenly, we all switch. Life goes on :o) and we all love each other through it….

Setswana lessons have become a part of my life again because my sekgalagadi teacher left the Peace Corps. She found a different job that suited her much better because it was full time, and so we were happy to see her move onto to greener pastures. That left the six of us learning sekgalagadi without a teacher and a week behind in Setswana. Sheesh. One of the reasons for my slump last week… it has been really difficult bouncing around and feeling like you’ll never know enough. We all laugh and say we are losing English as well. We try to learn Setswana/Sekgalagadi & without gaining much, we lose so much of our English grammar. Please do me a favor and don’t tell me how much worse it gets over time :o) Over the weekend, I tried to teach myself all of the past/future tenses of verbs and object pronouns. Hopefully I retain the information!

My clinic in Kang has a patient population speaking Setswana, so my studies over the next few weeks won’t be going to waste. Constance told me there are four languages spoken in the clinic, so it looks like I will have a lot to learn about linguistics, no matter what way you look at it. Sekgalagadi and Setswana are similar enough that you can understand someone speaking Sekgalagadi and my host father has been trying to teach me in the evenings so I can at least move to Kang with the basics.

Two and a half weeks to go! The end of training is in sight and we are all feeling anxious to swear in as official Peace Corps Volunteers. Swearing In day is June 12 and we all move to our new sites on June 13. Hurray! Oh, and p.s., I clued a few people in about this – but in case you want to say the name of my village correctly, think of King Kong. Kang = Kong :o)  I actually had a local here laugh at me when I told them where I’m moving, and he said, “Kang? You’re truly moving to the MIDDLE of the Kgalagadi desert.” Yes sir, I am. And I’ve been waiting for so many years to get here!

Love & Light,

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