New Home – By John
Well last Monday was a really good day, indeed. However, last Friday was the best day so far. All 35 of us were told where we would be living for the next 2 years! It was a well presented and well organized ceremony with a random drawing for who found out first.
A large map showed all the possible spots with push pins where each of us would put our new location, which we discovered in sealed envelopes hidden under our chairs! Its was so exciting and energetic! We must have had 100 rounds of applause for each other and for the PC staff who did such a terrific job with the presentation.
Most all of the 35 sites were in the same general part of the country called the Southern District. Many of us were unsure if we wanted to be placed in small, medium or large village. There are many pro and cons to each environment. We didn’t have any say in it anyway, especially the 4 couples, so it was out of our hands.
Carol and I drew #11 in the random drawing, so we saw 10 of the spots disappear before we received our envelope.
We went back and forth between the two possibilities. The Northerly, remote areas that are surrounded with the true beauty of Africa and wild animals everywhere and large expanses of lakes, but lots of mosquitoes (much larger malaria potential), MUCH more heat, and fewer resources. Or the Southern part, that was nearer the couple of main cities, with lots of resources (shopping, hospitals, education centers), fewer mosquitoes, MUCH less heat (although still almost unbearable!) and proximity to other Peace Corp volunteers. We knew we would more likely see the impact of our work in smaller villages, but our lives would be more comfortable in the larger villages. We decided we would make any outcome work for us – but we just couldn’t wait to find out!
As it turned out, we were assigned to a village called Molepolole.
Carol likes saying the word Molepolole and it’s one of the few words she pronounces just like a Botswana person!
Molepolole is a large village, maybe even the largest village (a village is smaller than a town and there are really only two or three towns in the whole country), and is reported to be the best village in the country! We did some research and spoke with many people who know the village and who have lived there and they have all said the same thing: it’s awesome! We are so excited we can barely stop talking about it! The village has great shopping, good paved roads that can accommodate bicycles (which is huge), good schools and organizations where we can really make some differences in our work, lots of electricity and running water and internet!
Two other people from our class are also being sent there and another 3 or 4 volunteers live there already. This means we will have a strong support group there as well as the livability of the village!
We don’t know exactly where we will be living yet, but probably government housing, which is typically good and reliable. There is always a possibility that we could end up in a home with no electricity or running water, but at this point that is very doubtful! We are psyched!
Carol will be working in a school that teaches grades 8 through 10. She will be facilitating or co-teaching and also capacity building (which means helping an individual in authority like a teacher to improve their own skills or capacity) with the school staff. She will also have several other secondary jobs such as tutoring, teaching basic computers, teaching gardening and lots of other choices that she can do within the community. I will be working in the District AIDS Coordinating Office as a District Community Liaison. I will use my computer skills to help coordinate all outreach projects connected with the prevention and care for persons affected with AIDS in the district. I will also use my technical skills to improve the support systems for the rest of the PC volunteers. I’m very excited about this and we are all really chomping at the bit to get going.
Once we got our assignments, we all went out and celebrated together and really had a great time. It was the first time that we stayed out past dark (until8:00 PM) since we have been here and it felt good!
On Saturday, the PC-Botswana had a celebration for its 50th Anniversary in general, and it’s 40thAnniversary inBotswana in Gaborone, and we were
provided transportation to attend.
There were a lot of dignitaries and lots of previous volunteers who had served years ago. Tim, the Botswana Country Director gave some brief training and some great short (in the heat) speeches. It was a fun party and we met lots of great people. We connected with lots of resources and expanded our list of PC friends greatly. We also had an opportunity to meet the Kgosi (Chief) of
Molepolole, which was a great honor for us. We plan to meet with him again when we get to our village and see how he thinks the Peace Corps Volunteers (PCV) can contribute to the well being and improvement of his village.
The volunteer network is a very close family. Everyone is the same high caliber personality and they all have the same energy and motivation that Carol and I are feeling each and every day. We are getting to know many of them as good friends and when we all go to our own villages, scattered all over Botswana in a couple weeks, we will be making many plans for keeping in touch, visiting and hosting each other at our homes over long weekends, or small vacations or just pop in visits!
Our village is so centrally located and such a great place for shopping, that many of the volunteers in places up to 3 hours away, will do their weekly or monthly grocery shopping there. Many of them will need to stay overnight to do so. They will be welcome in our home, and we will look forward to having them come and visit with us frequently. We plan to dub our home a Bed and Breakfast and host movie nights with our computer and projector (Thanks Aaron).
Our lives just keep getting better.