Sunday, October 10, 2010

6 months of change

10 October 2010

This entry is just going to be full of random things from as far back as early September...mainly because I haven't been good about keeping up (unless I'm miserable;)...apparently I'm real good at that)

I'll start with an amazing success story that I had. If you know me from pre-peace corps you know that I had the amazing opportunity to work at Crossroads for Kids for many years and develop team building and leadership facilitation skills. When I was accepted into Peace Corps I was hoping for the chance to bring what I have learned over the years to the people of Botswana. I was able to do that in early September. A volutneer from Bots 8 (the group who have been here a year prior to our arrival) heard that I had a background in leadership and team building so she asked me to come to her school and run a Leadership workshop for her school's Prefects (Student school monitors)
I was extremely excited! I asked a volunteer named Kelli in my own group if she would be a co-facilitator with me. I developed a 1.5 day workshop plan and when we arrived at the school I was both nervous and excited to begin. There were about 25 students who participaed in the 1.5 day workshop. In the beginning it was hard to get them to open up. Sometimes even back in the states it is hard to get children (especially teenagers) to open up in front of their peers and take a leadership role , but here it was more difficult then I imagined or ever experienced. By the end of the first day I knew these students were changing in front of our eyes. They were becoming more confident and unafraid to speak up. They were showing us they had a voice and wanted to be heard which is extremely inmportant for youth here in Botswana. A lot of times the students are overlooked and misunderstood. They need to be cared for and looked after but there is a big gap in pyscho social support for children. It is something I have become very passionate about. If you read an earlier blog I wrote about a young girl who was almost raped by other students you remember that the support she got about her situtation was minimal. Very minimal in fact. When it comes to emotions here, things are swept under the rug. A lot of people do not want or know how to give the support needed in terrible situations like that.
By the completion of the workshop Kelli and I saw a noticeable difference. The students had learned how working together as a team to have their voices heard was important if not absolutely necessary. Here is some of what they had to say about the workshop from a feedback form we handed out:

- "I learned how to cooperate and talk to other people in a good way."
- "I learned how to lead people. I should respect people so that they can respect me too. I have to be cooperative."
- "Working together as a team makes tasks very easy. How to respect my peers and cooperate well with them."
- "I learned how to lead other students and to work peacefully with others."
- "I learned so much because we were taught how to stand for ourselves and speak out without fear or concerns, to be cooperative,working together as one team to make a change as leaders."
- "I learned that with cooperation and respect you can succeed in anything you want to."
- "From now on I am not going to give up on anything I do."

And here are some things theywrote about us as facilitators:

- "They are awesome and loving ladies. They were very cooperative and never gave up even if we seemed like we were tired."
- "They teach us how to work with others and to cooperate with them"
- "Facilitators were kind, friendly, loving, and also caring because they didn't want us to get hurt. They were amazing, fabulous, great and I liked them"
- "They respected us."
- "They were lovely, nice and also caring people. They opened up to me."
- "They were passionate and understanding. Encouraging you to keep on doing that!"
- "They were good and kind to us. They didn't get angry at us."

This is why I am here, I just know it.

Kelli and I have already been in talk with our own schools and other volunteers to bring the workshop to other students and teaching and administration staff as well! Success!

On to other things:

~At one point I had no water for 5 days. It was one of the worst experiences of my life. Picture living in a cement house which is directly in the sun ALL DAY just baking. It is 95 degrees outside and you are thirsy and sweaty and you have NO WAY of cooling down. I didn't have enough storage water to last me 2 days let alone 5. Those 5 days broke me in a way. I would never wish that feeling of thirst on anyone, ever. I have a new respect for water that I never knew was even possible.
Just yesterday I was out of water and thankfully it was only for 1 day and half of the night. I had my shower turned on and when I heard the water start up at 12:34am I jumped up out of bed and I stood under the cold, cool shower and cried with happiness.

~My bother Jimmy proposed to his girlfriend Cali at The Grand Canyon! I am thrilled for them! Wait for me though you punks!

~In my village there was the annual Toyota 1000k Desert Race. It is the biggest sporting event in Botswana and this was the first year it was taking place in Kumakwane. Racers from all over Southern Africa come to compete and spectators from all over come to camp out and party the whole weekend. My village is about 4,500 people but with the race there were over 30,000 people here to watch. 10,000 alone were camping! I had people over for the whole weekend in my teeny tiny house and we watched motor bikes, quads, these cool looking futuristic cars which names I forget and trucks! We were splashed with obscene amounts of dirt and sand and we loved every second of it!
When I got back to school that Monday the teachers were talking about how fun it was. One said, "I love the race but I hate how the next day there are all these used condoms around." I really, really wanted to say "Hey, at least they were using condoms" but I kept my mouth shut. Is it weird that when I did see all the used condoms throughout my village I smiled and thought to myself, 'good work people, good work...wrap it up!'? Welcome to get happy at the strangest things.

~It is offcially Summer here now and it has been consistently 95+ everyday. Yesterday it hit 100 and I wanted to die sitting in my brick oven house. It's strange because all day the house is heated up so it is terrible trying to fall asleep. I actually think I may just pass out every night it's so hot and I just claim I 'fell asleep naturally'. Anyways, it's strange because by morning I am under my sheets because it still gets a bit cold. However, by 8 am it is back to grotesquely hot.
With summer comes bugs. BUGS EVERYWHERE! I don't even know what these bugs are. I think some must be only in Botswana and Hell. Even the flies seem to be on steroids and they fly around bashing into the walls and even me. They are crazy and HUGE! I know I have mentioned the bug killer DOOM before...well let me just say that I have gone through 2 cans in 1.5 days. The cockroaches are the biggest things I have ever seen and they just don't die! I sprayed 6 with DOOM one night and woke up to them on their backs STILL MOVING! I used a whole can on just those 6, a whole can and they still had the nerve to be alive!
Also, there is still an array of Flatsies but there is this new species of spider that moves like the dickens as well. These spiders have these gross antennas and they are seriously evil. In fact, I think every bug here is evil. I am starting to pray for only lizards. Even the crickets have turned against me and I have had to turn to killng them. They throw themselves AT ME sometimes!
I'm sick and tired of knocking on doors in my own house before I enter a room in hopes that whatever is in the room scurries away.
I had a cockroach in bed with me the other night. I freaked out (obviously) and the only reason I was able to fall back asleep after I killed it was because I think the heat made me pass out, no joke.

~Ok,I can't keep typing right now...I have to go stand under the cold shower again...second time today. It's only 2pm.
I truly believe I may be living on the surface of the Sun and not on Earth anymore.

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