My life here really seems to have taken on a rhythm. With my support group there are long periods of listlessness interrupted by spurts of urgent activity. Lately, the level of activity has been at a sustained high, which is, if it’s not obvious, amazing.
Since 2012 began, my members and I have been more consistently in sync. At least a few of them have taken on that motivational role that I find so draining, with some success. But the real reasons for my being busy aren’t really of our making. Last weekend I was informed that the group would be receiving a donation from the Botswana Defence Force (the military arm of the country). Though we didn’t know how much we’d be getting, any sort of donation is huge for an organization without consistent funding. We were instructed to compose a short ceremony at the kgotla (tribal version of city hall) and invite prominent villagers. We got to work immediately, communicating with all the necessary parties and writing up short profile and thank-you speeches. A couple meetings even ventured into the realm of how we’ll spend the money and which projects are at our highest priority. Our event on St. Patrick’s Day went great and the donation turned out to be a nice chunk of change: 10,000 pula. That’s about what I make in 4 months, so the group will definitely benefit from it!
Late in the week I got a call from a friend in the village that has some great connections. This person is a former UK missionary who has been living in Rakops for more than 20 years, and has accomplished some really ambitious projects. He’s an inspiring figure, and unfortunately our paths crossed for the first time only a few weeks ago. Anyway, he met with the group and agreed to set up a meeting with some of his investors. Despite the unknown outcome of all this, a great atmosphere for capacity building has been created. It’s perhaps true of any real-world learning: a person’s best work is produced when some pressure is applied. I just wish I knew how to keep the group on alert like this all the time. I’ll be sure to keep you all posted on what happens with this. It’s a good time in the country because the financial year is coming to a close; opportunities abound!
My secondary project has also gained some traction recently. The scout troop is planning a camp in the delta at the beginning of April. Although I only meet with them a couple times a week, it’s been a nice diversion to rotate different people into my daily interactions. Some of those involved are turning into good friends and partners, attracting my interest and earning my trust. They’ve evolved into a club that can do more than just march, so there may be potential to get a community project off the ground with them.
I don’t think I’ve ever written about it, but a while back I was elected to the Volunteer Advisory Committee. It’s a small group that meets with the country director a few times a year to discuss volunteer life, interpret policy, and brainstorm ways to solve issues. With the help of this committee, I’ve been spending a fair amount of time editing a new handbook for trainees when they arrive in Botswana. It’s a sort of street guide, full of tips on how to navigate the country. Anyway, I recently finished it and it will hopefully be of use to newcomers. This commitment has been a good outlet for me to network and to make use of those latent periods with my primary assignment.
I have some news of particular interest: I’m going home! Not for good, just to visit a couple grad schools and see my sister graduate from MSU. I’ve always been a little wary of taking a trip to the US – the temptation of those superficial conveniences may have been too great when I was still in my adjustment phase. I’ve come to terms with that concern by relegating that to the past, and I’m confident I’ll come back refreshed. I think it was important that I wait until after the one-year mark to take such a trip, though. All hesitation aside, I’m really excited to see my family and friends. I can’t believe it’s been a year since I’ve seen them! I’ve already begun making a list of the things I’m going to eat, the places I’ll go, and things I’ll do. I probably won’t get much rest while I’m there, but it’ll be worth it to get a shot of US.
As the title says, there’s a lot of news on this upswing of the rhythm and I couldn’t be more excited about the progress.