How the hell is it already 2016!? WHAT! Craziness. Time is flying and crawling at the same time and I’m still trying to figure out how that’s possible.
I would apologize for my lack of blogging but I kinda figured I’d spare everyone my cranky ramblings until I actually had something to say. And I don’t even know if I actually have anything to say or if I’m just dying of boredom on my layover back to Bots and its somehow making the words flow. *Edit: I’ve been trying to post this for over a month and a half but this goddamn Botswana wifi is ruining my life.
The first few weeks back after my security incident were hard. Like really hard. Like way harder than the first few weeks in Bots ever were. I got by with a little help from my friends (and a lot of help from Peo). Life was pretty slow with a lot of downtime (more than usual) to think about what the hell am I doing here? Honestly, some days I still don’t know the answer. And then life got more exciting (for a period of time)
The last week of October, we took a much-needed vacation to Namibia! And it was amazing. So amazing. We all crammed in the van and started on our hella long journey through South Africa and up into Namibia. First stop: Fish River Canyon! It was so big. And so beautiful. It is commonly referred to as “The Grand Canyon of Africa” and I’ve never seen the actual Grand Canyon but FRC was pretty damn cool. We did some camping, exploring and sundowners. After surviving on PBJ and whatever other foods we brought for all of a day, we got hangry and ventured to a nearby lodge (aka a lodge literally in the middle of nowhere) and found the biggest cheeseburgers and the yummiest cheesecake I have ever eaten. It was basically heaven. After two nights at FRC, we continued on our journey to Soussusvlei. And what a journey it was. We had some hiccups. And by hiccup, I mean the roads in Namibia are the worst and we had a minor accident resulting in the loss of our trailer and then having to pack the car full of dirty Peace Corps Volunteers, our bags, camping shit and food. The first place we found to stop after that, we naturally ran for meat pies and cried for joy drinking 40’s in the desert. After setting up camp, we set off to see the dunes. I hate walking on the sand at the beach so I don’t know what I was thinking that climbing sand dunes would be fun. But they were incredibly beautiful. Pictures don’t even do it justice, at all. So worth the traumatic car ride. Realizing you can only stare at the dunes for so long, we cut off a night at the dunes and added an extra night in Swakopmund. I think Swakop might be one of my most favorite cities I’ve been to. Its this cute, quiet little German/African town on the coast. I mean, just being a beach town is enough for me to love it. We ate so much yummy food and went on adventures camel riding, quad biking the dunes and everyone else went sandboarding but being the pussy I am, I took one look down and said HELL NAH. But watching them wipe out from up above and seeing the ocean on one side and the sand dunes on the other was still pretty great. We got classy and went to dinner on the pier and it was so dreamy. I think I could live out there. Okay, maybe the only problem with Swakopmund is that it was SO COLD and so rocky on the beach. Like hello, can I get a little sunshine!? From Swakop we took the tar road to Windhoek for Oktoberfest, which was the main reason we planned the trip in the first place. When we got in, we had dinner at this cool place that served all kinds of cool game meats and beers. Being the picky eater/pain in the ass I am, I stuck with a big ol steak rather than anything too exotic. It was still delicious. After dinner, we went to see BOYZ TO MEN and it was so fantastic. Who knew they’re still a thing? The Namibians knew. Apparently all of their fans are in Namibs and they went ape shit, they were so excited. It was so awesome. Those old dudes sure can sing. (And what part about getting white girl wastey with your besties and singing “I’ll make love to you” doesn’t sound like the best?) We brunched the next morning and were all on the struggle bus but put on our big girl panties and headed to Oktoberfest! It was super fun. Beer, pretzels, beer, music, big beer mugs. It was great. RIP big beer mug.
Supply Chain Management
After a few days in the village catching up on as much Peo snuggles as possible, we headed to Gabs for another round of Supply Chain Management training. But this time we brought counterparts! It was awesome getting to know my counterpart better at the workshop and planning ways we would implement SCM back at the clinic. And not to mention how great it is having air con, showers and Americans to hang out with.
On the in between days of SCM and MST, another volunteer and I spent the weekend in my village snuggling Peo, screaming in fear of thunderstorms and baking brookies til we got tummyaches. Weekends like those are my favorite. But after bringing brookies into the clinic, I’ve created a bunch of brookie monsters and I’m obviously the worst and haven’t made more (sorry I’m not sorry)
Mid Service Training – WHAT?! Weren’t we just getting off lockdown to go to IST? Shit is crazy. MST was actually probably my favorite training so far. Our group is much smaller which makes it less overwhelming to be all together but also sad seeing how many faces we’re missing. It’s crazy to think the next time we’ll all be together will be at Close of Service Conference WHICH IS IN 6 MONTHS! WHAT?!?
16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence Campaign
I’ve been so excited to do something with 16 Days since I first heard of it at PST, and in the events of the last 6 months I was even more excited after seeing how much a campaign like this is needed in Botswana and all over the world. 16 Days is an international campaign raising awareness against Gender Based Violence. It goes from November 25 – December 10. In Botswana, we do a purple ribbon campaign in which you wear a purple ribbon to show that you are personally taking a stand to prevent and end Gender Based Violence, as well as agreeing not to commit acts of GBV. Of course it started the last week of school so it was kind of crazy organizing time to meet with the schools. We actually ended up doing our 16 Days activities at the Junior school before the campaign officially started. I coordinated a meeting with a teacher friend to attend the morning staff meeting and do a brief presentation on what GBV is and how teachers can help students affected by it. I was pretty sure everyone’s eyes glazed over the entire time I presented but I think that’s just how they are. When the School Head asked to talk to me after, all I could think was “oh great, he’s pissed I put his teachers to sleep” but actually he wanted to schedule an assembly to meet with all of the form 1 and 2 students about Gender Based Violence because he recognizes how important it is to talk about this (SCORE!) I was so excited after our meeting to talk to the teachers and hear their interest in signing the pledge and working with the students. And I was even more excited when we met with the kids and they were basically tackling eachother to get ribbons because they were so excited (is it the free stuff, the crazy ass white girl or because they actually care? I don’t know, I don’t care) and what was even more exciting was returning to the school the next day (the official kick off of 16 Days) and seeing a sea of purple ribbons! And then continuing to see all of the ribbons on the students as they came into the clinic or were walking home (or whatever they do) and they were equally as excited to show me they remembered to wear it. Everyone at the clinic was also equally as excited to wear their ribbons for the 16 days. Each morning, we started with health talks on GBV with the patients while they waited to be seen. And even when I wasn’t there, the nurses still did it without me! 16 Days was really exciting. I wish I would be around for it this year in the village, but America (or wherever) is calling my name. AND America needs some serious work in the area of raising awareness on GBV too.
BotsFamThanksgiving & GLOW Camp
We spent our second and final Thanksgiving in Botswana all together – turkey and all! It was delicious and really great to all be together. Following Thanksgiving, we ran a GLOW (Guys/Girls Leading Our World) Camp in Palapye. Luckily, all the sessions for the camp were written up in a GLOW manual by some of the other volunteers so basically we just had to figure out who was doing what, familiarize ourselves with the session content and hang with the kiddos. Of course it didn’t all go without mathata (that’s a story for another day and probably not very goal 3) but none of the hiccups kept us from the camp running mostly smooth. I love when kids participate and when you can actually have a decent conversation with them, and most times I find the girls are usually the ones willing to engage but this time the boys at the camp were the most chatty and involved. We talked about decision making, puberty, gender based violence, condom Olympics and everything in between.
Long story short, we’ve been trying to organize some health talks at the library with the students after school and for several weeks we failed, and then one afternoon I accidentally went there (I had literally given up on these damn talks) and found a bunch of kids interested (where the hell have you been every other Wednesday!?) Of course the boys stared at me and refused to speak so I sent them on their way and was left with a small group of girls dying to have someone to talk to. I asked them what they want to talk about and IMMEDIATELY (most times getting kids to answer is literally pulling teeth) the girls were like “Masa, we want to know about menstration” I was slightly taken aback and trying to figure out what to say to them but also weirdly overly excited to talk periods with a bunch of preteens. It kind of blew my mind when the students told me they get a one hour talk on puberty in a mixed sex group and that was it. (It has also inspired me to somehow get involved with the school and clinic to make a health education curriculum for the primary school but we’ll see how that goes) It also blew my mind that these girls had no one in their lives that they could talk to about girl stuff – not mom, grandma, female teachers, no one. I think talking to me about periods was like one of the most exciting things for my mom, she even got me this American Girl book about periods. I guess I’ve just always taken it for granted how lucky I am to have a family that likes to talk about anything and everything. We talked about what is actually happening in our bodies to what to do if you accidentally bleed in your skirt (really my answer would be die of embarassment but I made up some bullshit to make them feel like it wouldn’t be the end of the world) I can’t wait for school to be back to get more involved with the kids. It’s a pretty cool feeling being the person that kids trust and know they can go to with questions or if they need help.
I wasn’t entirely sure how I felt about being home for the holidays after spending a few weeks at home over the summer but I was hoping being home for a happy reason and for less time would be alright. Being home is the strangest feeling. Its kind of like you never left and like your entire life in Botswana and the Peace Corps has just been a dream. I don’t even know how to describe it. It kind of feels like you’ve just been on pause while everyone else is settling into their real jobs, moving out, becoming more obsessed with their significant others, having babies and just totally growing up and at home. And everything you’ve seen and experienced is more than you can possibly explain; especially to that most awful “how’s Africa?” question that always makes me feel like I have everyone’s eyes rolling back in their skulls, but yo homies don’t ask if you don’t really want to know. And also, Africa is a fucking continent – ask me about Botswana. End rant (for now).
Stay thirsty ditsala same.