This experience is a rollercoaster, especially during these first few months. Today is a good day. Something has been accomplished. It is a small success, one that has taken a month of calls and confusion and more waiting than someone coming from the US is at all used to.
The tone of my blog since I have been at site has been stern, and rightfully so. Adjustment is hard and I have been collecting small defeats and lonely nights for a while. It’s nice to have some success, miniature as it may be.
Around the time of site placement, my program director asked our group if we wanted it to be easy. Why did we come here? Certainly we are each qualified enough to be part of companies and non-profits in the states that are flourishing and making boast-worthy strides. But perhaps the most room for growth is at the grass-roots level. The chance to make a difference, though cliché, is the reason many of us come here.
My site is hard – there is little private-sector development happening in Rakops. The group itself is voluntary with zero paid staff. It means willing people to come; to do things based on the relationships you have with them. Aligning myself with the people who can see benefits in that light is the first step. I think that all of us hope that some of that legwork will be done when we get here, but in most undeveloped sites, it isn’t. And it goes without saying that it all takes time.
Today, I got my district office to transport materials for our garden from Francistown. I had been searching for help for this for about a month, and there was no budget available for it. Transport, as I am learning, is a persistent headache. Petrol is not cheap, and cars aren’t widely available. It’s possible, though, and we finally have everything we need to re-start our garden. The group and I are going to plan an event to plant and celebrate, as well as honor the organizations that have donated to the project.
I realize that to American readers, this is silly bordering on ridiculous. It took 2 months to move two-dozen large poles 400 kilometers. Let me relish this triumph in the context of my service and congratulate me. Today I am victorious.