Ah, how life has changed in just a couple short months. Only while reflecting can I appreciate how different things are here. In some ways, I’m having the “Peace Corps Experience,” if only temporarily.
I’m always home before dark, and I sleep at least 8 hours each night. Electricity currently consists of an extension through my window, so I can keep my fridge plugged in and alternate my stove, electric kettle, space heater, and lamp when necessary. Donkeys, chickens, cows, horses, and dogs all cross my path at some point during the day – all seemingly stray, but actually just roaming because they can. I eat locally and seasonally (there are no other options). Any real (non-canned, non-dried) food has to be bought in a village 2 hours away by bus. I eat what I can carry. I bathe, do laundry, and clean dishes in buckets because there is no indoor plumbing.
These first couple months indicate a time for adjusting, and I think we all need them. It’s more than just adapting to lifestyle, though. I’ve never really had to figure my job out on the fly, but that’s what I’m doing right now. The role of a volunteer in development work is expectedly varied depending on one’s placement. For my own sake, I’ve created a list of goals for my service (both professional and personal). Broad as they may be, I hope that identifying them at this early stage will guide me through these next couple of years:
1. Support the members of my NGO with their projects, both creatively and logistically
2. Assist my NGO with getting a building which has electricity, phone, internet, and the resources it needs to operate
3. Make the NGO more self-sustaining, with a clear structure, competent executive committee, and reliable funding sources
4. Maintain and build good relationships with friends, family, and colleagues in the US and Botswana
5. Work on or develop a project at the district level with a public health focus
6. Learn about Botswana’s LGBT empowerment NGOs
7. Maintain and improve my health, both physically and mentally. Better myself by: conquering my fears of isolation, understanding what is important to me and my life, and not compromising my beliefs and identity
In other news, the first lady is in Botswana. Actually, she’s in Gaborone to be specific, which means I won’t see her. Oh well, maybe she’ll be back again, and at a time when I can travel to see her!