So, finally I can blog! You'll have to get used to the fact that I will rarely get to go to an internet cafe in the next 2 months or longer!
I've been here 8 days so I will do my best to remember the highlights:
The plane ride and whole journey to get here was long, tiring and foggy. Once landing in Botswana I felt much better! Especially the people who I will be sharing the next 26 months with!
My birthday will be one to remember for a lifetime! I was made to feel like family!
Orientation was a long and blurry 4 days. We had about 8 hours of Setswana so far and since coming to our host family site I have realized that is NOT enough AT ALL! Everyone has a different host family experience so far...mine is VERY different however!
Most volunteers have running water and electricity but me, nope! I have a nice sized room and a small common area to read and it's where I eat most of my meals which mainly consist of either some sort of potato dish or this nasty porridge which I can never finish. I'll have to get used to it because it is Batswana staple food, ugh.
My host mother can say maybe 10 English words total so I spend most of the day sitting in our front yard in slience....sometimes I point out something and she tells me what the word in Setswana is. It's only been 3 days but if I don't learn more FAST I might go crazy!!!!!
It gets dark around 6 here so having no electricity makes my nights pretty boring and sad. But I live close to a few volunteers so I will most likely go over to theirs and study at night. I also have a host sister who is 17 and a host brother who is a teenager as well I think. They speak English but so far have not been around to help translate. That has been the hardest part. My mother, Evelyn is wonderful and takes great care of me despite the language barrier!
I have had some bad experiences with the malaria medication they put me on but now I feel better. It is called Larium and the side effects are extreme: anything from nausea to suicidal thoughts. I have been lucky to only have trouble sleeping. Others in the group are having worse experiences while others are fine.
Here are just some interesting things:
My Setswana name is Dintle which means 'more beautiful'.
I am already sunburned.
They don't have sliced bread...so be grateful for the little things.
My neighbors party into the wee hours of the morning...loud music and singing.
Goats, Donkeys, wild dogs, chickens, and cows EVERYWHERE!
Friendly people who are some of the most beautiful people I have ever seen.
I met a famous Batswana named Sliza who is a singer.
All in all, I am having a humbling, amazing experience! I can't wait for more to come!
You can call me if you want and it will be free for me BUT very expensive for you so get a calling card: 001 267 72627511 OR 00 267 72627511
LOVE YOU ALL!!!
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
I will be a Life Skills Volunteer working with the HIV/AIDS Capacity Building Project. As of now we only know broad details about what we'll be doing exactly but here is what I know:
The Batswana (people of Botswana) are for the most part well educated about HIV/AIDS basic facts and prevention strategies, but lag behind in making the necessary changes in behavior. Behavior change is a KEY factor in preventing further spread of the virus. One of the key behavior change strategies being used by the Government of Botswana is Life Skills education. The Ministry of Education is rolling out a new life skills curriculum for all grades in the public school system.
There will be 15 other Life Skills Volunteers heading to Botswana with me and we will be part of the third tour taking part in this new Life Skills Program, working with schools to strengthen the life skills of young people. Joining us on our trip will be about 40 other new volunteers who will be doing other jobs related to HIV/AIDS.
That's the short version of what I know now! Once I'm in the thick of it you'll get to know more!
So, I think it's fitting that my first post is about the stresses of packing for a 27 month trip! I am having a type of anxiety that I have never experienced before!
I have all my clothes out on my bed, sitting in piles...and I have been staring at them, yup, just staring.
Tomorrow is the day I will actually start (although I have been saying that for about 2 weeks) However, I think if I don't start tomorrow I'll be in major trouble!