Friday, June 28, 2013

Simple joys about coming home

This past week, I was in Gaborone for my Mid-Service Training (MST) with Peace Corps. Time is FLYING by. Throughout the past year, I have seen many of the other volunteers in my training group and I've even collaborated with a few on projects. However, there were a few volunteers I hadn't seen since our last training event together in August of 2012. I really enjoyed spending time with my group, learning a bit more about how to enhance my service, and expand upon my thoughts for what I'm going to be doing post-peace corps.

(side note.. Post-peace corps? Didn't I just start this adventure?!)

Of course, like most things, MST flew by and yesterday I found myself sitting on a crowded bus back to my village. I was sad to leave my friends behind, especially because the next time we will all be together, it will be at our close-of -service conference.

But as I sat on the bus back home, I welcomed the feeling of relief of simply going home.  Going to the capitol is great - it's busy, groceries are amazing, there is entertainment, etc. But somehow, the quiet village life  still resonates with my soul and I'm always happy to return. 

home sweet home
Familiar faces smiling when they welcome me back to Kang.

Scads of school children coming up to me, offering to carry my bags and tell me about their exams.

Hearing people speak Shekgalagari, leaving Setswana in Gaborone.

Giggling children running up to give me hugs when I arrive.

Romeo with my teddy he has adopted.
Kissing those sweet little faces.

Wiping the sand off my lips from their sweet (dirty)  little faces.

Kibi cat purring and delighted to have me petting him again.

happy kitty
Hand-washing my laundry from the week.

Making fresh coffee and enjoying the comforts of my own home.

Reading Curious George to some of the little ones who stop by.

Unpacking all of the books and IEC material from Peace Corps to aid me with my work.

Resting on my own bed,
Soaking up some solitude,
and  reflecting upon all the things I'm looking forward to in my last year of service.

my favorite place to be
Love & Light,

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Day in the Life

Peace Corps Botswana has just started a mentoring program for new Peace Corps Trainees to have a mentor to guide them through the process of getting here & transitioning to site (where was this program when I came!?). Basically, currently serving volunteers are matched with someone who has been invited to serve in Botswana as a Peace Corps Volunteer. They are open to email and ask questions about anything and everything - hopefully to ease their minds about the whole thing.

I've been matched as a mentor - and I received the following question: "what's a typical day for you!?" Naturally, I giggled (and even typed HA! While answering my email) because it's usually impossible to have a typical day as a PCV. Of course I responded, but after the course of events today, I would have to say my day today pretty much sums it all up.

(I also figure none of you really know what my life is like day to day, so here is a taste)….

My own thoughts will be italicized.

Wake up, do I really have to?
Make coffee & breakfast.
Notice my slipper ripped open on the side, hmmm, yup. I'll sew that instead of spending about 50 pula on a new pair.
Read a little bit.  
Get dressed for the day, it's freezing now. It will be hot later. UGH. What to wear?
Gather all the things I need for the morning.
Start walking to the OVC center (orphans and vulnerable children), can't wait to see my kiddos! Will they understand the games I teach them today?
Walk through village reading flashcards to study for MCAT, please, random stranger, DON'T stop and talk to me for twenty minutes.
Arrive at OVC center, greeted by a whole room of smiling cherubs, I wish everyone I know could witness how freaking adorable and genuinely sweet they are!
Pull sports equipment out of my bag & see the kiddos eyes light up, at what age do we stop being so cute, curious, and giddy about life?
Play games with kiddos at OVC center. Laugh hysterically.

Head back inside for tea time.
Help wash dishes at the OVC center.
Say bye to the kiddos.
Walk back towards my house and see my closest friend in the village with her daughter, !!!!.

like mother, like daughter.
Stop and chat with Tshegofatso for a while, the world needs more people like her. She's such a doll.
Take her daughter, Moso, with me back to my house to play while I drop off the sports equipment.
Listen to Moso ramble on and on and on and on...goodness, child. I understand maybe 1/4 of what you are saying to me.
Make lunch, prepare food and drink for a visitor, play with Moso and family kiddos who have appeared in my house,  how in the world did I become the village nanny?
Leave my house to drop Moso off with her mom again.
Laugh and take pictures with Moso along the way.

sweet lil moso
Arrive at the clinic, greet my co-workers, talk to supervisor about report he needs help with, and head to my office to finish up working on a few items of my own.
At 4:30, leave the clinic to go begin making a cake for my auntie for her birthday, I sure do love how happy it makes each family member when they each get their own cake for their birthday, but oh my, I've made SO many cakes. Turns out my family is bigger than I was aware of when I started this tradition.
Start pulling out all the ingredients for the cake, pull up a chair for one of the kiddos to "help me" make the cake, give crayons and coloring books to the other small ones who have made my living room home.
Measure out the first three ingredients.
Hear a big THUD. Baby is SCREAMING at the top of her lungs, uh oh. What happened now? Real problem? Dramatic child?
Blood streams down baby Aya's face… she cut her head open, I need my first AID kit! This child needs stitches! Stop the bleeding!
Constant crying and tears, what will help her calm down? CANDY!
After controlling the bleeding, head next door to find Aya's medical card, & head to the clinic, oh peace corps. This really IS my family. How many PCV's actually take their little sister to the clinic when her head splits open?
Arrive at the clinic, search for clinic staff, & explain what happened, so thankful I know each and every staff member at the clinic.
Hold Aya's arms down while the nurse shaves a portion of her hair and the doctor gives her stitches, poor baby. She's going to grow up HATING the clinic and all doctors who come near her.
Feed Aya more candy to make the crying stop.
Breathe a sigh of relief, head home, give Aya back to her grandmother.
Clean dried blood off my floor, yay for tile! Easy to clean. Boo for tile! Babies fall and bleed. Mental note: thank mother for buying me paper towels.

the way we left my house - blood & med kit on floor, cake in progress!
Ok, onto that cake I started...I'm too tired for all of this! Ha. Must make coffee.
Make cup of coffee.
Finish making cake with the help of the kiddos.
Sit on the kitchen floor, eat dinner with kiddos, I think ANYONE would judge me for eating cold rice with scrambled eggs and ketchup. But I'm too tired to care.
Go next door to sing happy birthday to my auntie.

singing HAPPY BIRTHDAY with the fam
Take pictures of/with Aya to document the shenanigans.

happy girl - still a goof! 
sweet baby Aya after our crazy events
Eat cake with my family.
Listen to not 1, not 2, but 12 cows roll into our yard.
Chase cows out of yard (in the dark) with other family members, only in Africa. When have I ever chased a cow out of my yard before this?

HORRIBLE picture, but hey, you get the idea. cows running around in the yard at night.
Laugh, gotta laugh. I can't make this stuff up.
Make another cup of coffee.
Michael calls, I sound like a zombie, but I think I feel like one more than I sound like one. He's a trooper.
Finish writing blog post.
Study a bit before bed.
YOGA, my happy time.
BED, how I love you. What will tomorrow bring?

Love & Light,


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

In a Years Time

One year ago today…

I woke up at 5:30 am, unable to sleep or calm my nerves. It was the beginning of a new chapter - life on my own as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I had completed the necessary training. I took an oath to become a Peace Corps Volunteer. I packed my bags. And I mentally prepared myself for moving to my village as much as I thought I could.

I went to the education center to gather the rest of my belongings and wait for my ride to come and take me to my new village. One by one, I hugged my fellow volunteers goodbye as they went on their way to their new sites. I sat and waited, and waited, and waited. Our car was several hours late, so needless to say, I was excited to load up the car and head out of Kanye.

I remember being crammed into the back of a Toyota corolla, with my kitty cat in my lap, looking out the window at the golden sunlight dancing upon the desert vegetation. I remember thinking to myself, "This is it. You're really doing this!".

I had no idea what to expect. I had no clue what I was in for. Over four hours later, we pulled into Kang. I could only see part of my village out of my window, as the rest was blocked by my belongings, as well as the other PCVs I was riding with. I still didn't know if I had a house to live in, as that was never communicated to me. I remember thinking, "I'm fine sleeping in the back of an ambulance. Just let me lay down and be happy to be in my village."

Much to my surprise, I was swept into the welcoming arms of the nurse-charge and the chief medical officer. They loaded my bags into their cars, whisked me away into the village, and proudly announced that I had a beautiful home waiting for me.

Bags were unloaded, basic instructions were given to find the clinic in the morning, a candle was lit, and off they went. Deep breaths. I had a new house. The doors locked. There was no electricity. No stove. Just an empty house and a new beginning.

I pulled out my groceries, made a PB&J, said a few prayers, and reassured myself that I would grow out of my fear of the dark and eventually figure out my role as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kang.

Phew. Then my eyelids finally closed...I had made it.


I decided to sleep in since I will be working all through the weekend. I gave myself a few extra hours to get some things done… I made coffee, did my devotion, baked a cake, did yoga, and took a bucket bath (a bath alone is an impressive feat during the winter here). I gathered all my things, set off for the clinic  ready to tackle my to do list.

Upon arriving at the clinic, I chatted with a few coworkers and villagers about how things were going in their lives. I moseyed on over to the staff room to check for updates and new savingrams (memos). Then, off to my office to start crossing things off my list. Plan activities to teach about STDs? Check. Google disgusting pictures of STDs to scare the living crap out of high school boys? Check. Gather material about SMC (Safe male circumcision) ? Check. Compile questions for pre and post tests at the camp this weekend? Check.

Time's up. Gotta go to the primary school. I headed to the primary school to meet with the PACT (peer approach to counseling by teens) group.  We discussed several topics throughout the lesson (confidentiality, how to be a good peer leader, active listening, etc), played a few games, gave them all hugs, and wished them luck on their end of term exams coming up.

Then I went back to the clinic to finish preparing for the Boys GLOW (Girls & Guys Leading Our World) camp this weekend. After finishing up, I went home to pick up the cake and walked to the house of one of my closest friends in the village. It was her birthday and I wanted to give her my love.

I hugged, kissed, and spun her daughter around in circles upon arrival. I met the newest little one in her family, a chubby lil bright eyed baby named after her, Tshegofatso. I gave her a card, full of love and encouraging words, which she passed to everyone to read :o) We sang her happy birthday, cut the cake & I watched them dig into the chocolately goodness. After the sugar rush, she and I walked towards the village together and she told me, "Boitshepo. No one has ever made me a cake. That's the first birthday card I've had in my life. I've never had my own."

We hugged and smiled as we parted ways… she went to church, I headed home. At home, I made dinner, had a cup of coffee, chatted with Michael, and sent off a bunch of emails to other SVAC advisors about the global PC database. I felt myself get a little overwhelmed with my to do list I still hadn't accomplished, and then I smiled… I'm busy. I'm doing things. I'm home. I'm happy. I can't really complain.

Tomorrow, PCVs will start arriving to help with camp all weekend. We'll  educate, empower, and encourage high school boys to take full responsibility for their lives and reach their full potential. We'll be doing our best to make an impact.

So, although I'm drinking coffee and staying up late again to get things done, I'm happy with how far things have come in my life in the past year.

* * * * *

Drastic changes, all in a years time.

One year ago today, I swore in as a Peace Corps Volunteer. One year from now, I will go home as a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer.

Bittersweet? Yes.

I'm every emotion you can imagine. But regardless, I wouldn’t change any of it. My life is exactly how it should be. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Be where you are 
Otherwise, you will miss your life 

Love & Light,

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Currently {June}

Looking at pictures of Camp Wapiyapi, wishing I could have been there this year. I miss my kiddos SO MUCH.

Grateful to have spent the past week at my house learning Shegalagari (the local dialect in Kang) with five really great Peace Corps Volunteers.

Wishing for indoor heating/insulation/carpet. It's winter time!

Hoping all my plans (both personal and Peace Corps) end up working out as desired.

Loving all the quality time with the kiddos in the fam.

Listening carefully to all the words flying out of their mouths, slowly beginning to piece together this beautiful language.

Reading all.the.time.

Sipping on coffee and tea, multiple times a day.

Bringing my blanket with me to my office to convince me to stay at work and out of my sleeping bag.

Advertising my work with SVAC. Our new global PC database is now live thanks to all the hard work and support from the other projects advisors. We're pretty excited to get this going after a LOT of work and emailing! You can find more info here

Preparing for a new wave of Peace Corps Volunteers to arrive on Thursday for the Boys GLOW (Girls & Guys Leading Our World) camp in Kang this weekend.

Brainstorming how I want to spend my vacation time with Michael & Kate, whenever I have a free minute to think.

Reflecting back to one year ago, when I spent my first night alone in my new house in Kang. Noting my self-growth, how much I've discovered about humanity, and where I see myself fitting into the bigger picture in life. 

Realizing that a year ago, my life as a Peace Corps Volunteer was just beginning. Now, I am busy as ever and can't believe I only have one year to go!

Love & Light,