Monday, May 21, 2012

Shadows and Casts

A couple weeks ago I got to host another Peace Corps Trainee for a week. When the new volunteers come into country they go through 2 months of training before they get sworn in as official Peace Corps Volunteers. One week out of their training they get to leave the training site to stay with a current volunteer. During their shadow time they get to see what life as a PCV is like. I got to host a trainee from the Bots 11 group back in October so I was excited to be chosen to host someone from the Bots 12 group that just came to Botswana in April.

After I was told I was going to be hosting a trainee I started to freak out a little bit, because I realized I didn't really have much going on at site anymore as my projects are starting to wind down. The week before I was supposed to meet her in Mahalapye I scrambled around to make sure we had some stuff to do. In the end there was no reason for the minor freak out. 

On Monday I went and met Leah (the girl that would be shadowing me) and the two other trainees who would be shadowing the volunteer who lives in a nearby village in Mahalapye (my shopping village). I had to mail a package home so I took the 3 trainees to the post office so they could experience the wonderfulness of the Botswana Post. Luckily trying to send my package home didn't take too long and I only ran into a couple minor complications. After that we picked up some food for the week and headed for the bus back to the village.

On Tuesday I showed Leah around the clinic and village. Then in the afternoon she led a focus group discussion with the PACT Club at the Jr. Secondary School. We had a small group of students show up which worked out really well and they were able to have a pretty good discussion on their views about Botswana and the economy and problems in the village. It's always interesting to hear what the youth have to say about some of these issues. Leah did a great job facilitating too. That night we made flatbread and hummus for dinner and it was pretty yummy.

On Wednesday, I took Leah over to Sefhare (a nearby bigger village) so that we could meet the women who make beads for the Sefhare branch of Mothers for All. Mothers for all is an organization that makes jewlery from breads made from recycled paper, magazines and posters. All the proceeds from the beadwork goes to support mothers or caregivers of orphans and vulnerable children in the community. It's a really great organization so I wanted the new volunteers to meet some of the women and learn more about what they do. Plus there was the added perk of being able to buy some of their products first hand! I also invited Cassie (the volunteer staying in a nearby village) and her shadows to come since we were collaborating to do a STEPS Screening (STEPS Videos are films made in and around Africa and they touch on various HIV/AIDS issues and are great to use to help facilitate a discussion with different community members) at Matlhako Library in the afternoon. While we were in Sefhare my friend Sister Francis (a nun whose been ministering in Sefhare for the past 16 years and has been in Botswana since the '70s) showed us some of the other things she's accomplished since she's been here. We got to see a really nice preschool and day care center, a Red Cross Center that runs a preschool for disabled children in the village and surrounding area and has a Big Brothers/Big Sisters program on the weekends, and we also got to see some of the backyard gardens some of the Mothers For All women have started up. It was really neat to see so many great things happening! I hope it was inspiring for the new volunteers to see what can be accomplished with hard work and motivated people. Some of the trainees were specializing in food security so I think they really appreciated getting to learn more about how to garden here.

In the afternoon we headed over to Matlhako Library to set up for our STEPS Screening. The week before Cassie and I had met with the Library Staff and planned to do a screening with the Standard 6 and 7s from the Matlhako Primary School. I thought it would be cool for the shadows to see. We got to the library and waited around. After a few hours we were told that the teachers were not going to allow the students to leave school to come and watch the movie, so no screening was going to happen. That was pretty disappointing, but it's what happens sometimes in Peace Corps. Once home Leah and I made some Taco Salad from scratch which was pretty yummy!

The rest of the week was spent at the clinic working on a volunteer job description with the clinic staff. This is so the organization and the new volunteer will be clear on the volunteers roles and responsibilities in the clinic and community. I think it’s a really good thing to have and I hope it will help the next volunteer who comes to Machaneng. I was also supposed to meet with preschool owner to work on a grant proposal, but she unfortunately ended up cancelling.

At the end of the week all the area volunteers and their shadows came over to my house and we had pizza! Then on Saturday we all went out to Len and Marina's farm on the Tuli Block so the shadowees could see what it's like out there.

 Lennie took us out on an afternoon game drive and showed us around the farm. We saw a few animals and some giraffes!! This was pretty exciting for the trainees, because these were the first wild animals (besides monkeys) that they have seen in Botswana.

We got to stay the night out at their hunters campsite, which was pretty cool. We had a braii with huge tasty steaks. After dinner Lennie took us out to chase after springhares, which is probably one of my favorite things to do here! This time I actually got to chase after them, unlike when my family was here (because I was sick). At one point I was super close to catching one, but it hoped away…should have dove on top of it. One of the runs I didn't see a warthog burrow and took a bad spill. I rolled over laughing but when I got up I could tell my ankle was hurting pretty bad. Once we got back to the campsite I investigated the damage. My ankle was swollen pretty bad…I decided I would text Peace Corps Medical about it once I got home. The rest of the night was spent hanging around the campfire and enjoying the outdoors. It was really nice of them to let us all come out there. The Vermulien's have been soo hospitable towards me throughout my service and I cannot thank them enough for all that they have done for me. I'm really glad I met them and became friends with them. I will always remember the kindness they showed me throughout my service and hope to one day return the favor.

Once home on Sunday I called the Peace Corps Medical Office and they told me to go to my clinic to have my ankle checked out. The doctor at the clinic wanted me to get an x-ray done to make sure nothing was broken or dislocated. On Monday I was sent to Sefhare Primary Hospital to get my ankle x-rayed and checked out by the doctor there. Gotta love rural public health care. The doctor said nothing was broken, but there was definitely soft tissue damage so he wanted to administer a POP (plaster of paris). So they put a cast on me and gave me some pain pills and crutches and sent me away. Sucks this had to happen right at the end of my service, but luckily I only have to keep my cast on for a few weeks. And now I will have a cool African cast full of signatures to take back to America with me when I leave in June :)

1 comment:

  1. ouch!!!!! hope the ankle is healing for the flight home.. . . .Bill & cindy