Tuesday, August 7, 2012

MiniRegional and GLOW Camp

Tracy and I went to a “MiniRegional” during the weekend of July 20th through the 22nd in Tshabong.  Peace Corps normally has a Regional meeting once a year, where PCVs get together to share experiences and ideas with people in their program area and to meet others in their area (to work on joint projects and the like).  So it is also a great time to see friends and meet new people.  This year was the first MiniRegional ever (in Botswana (to the best of my knowledge)) and it was a blast.  While I have not really asked why they decided to start it up I think it was for people to meet the newest group of incoming volunteers and so they can get out of their villages and hang out with other Americans – aka blow off some steam.

PCVs arrived via hitches, buses, and even an airplane.  The Hukuntsi volunteers (which include Tracy and I) got a hitch with a policeman that was going well above the speed limit so he could get home to watch Formula One racing, no joke.  We were able to stay with another couple from our Bots 11 group, Michael and Haley and got dropped at the door!  We hung out and met their kitten until it was time to meet up with everyone.  We forgot the camera in Hukuntsi, so I don’t think we got any snapshots of the meeting or Tracy and the cat.  Their kitty was talkative the whole time we were in Tshabong, which Haley advised is not normal!  It is always weird seeing another side of your pet and seeing how much they can change.

The MiniRegional was at another PCV’s home so we took a walk and enjoyed seeing another Botswana village (town?).  Motswana claim to only have one city (Gaborone) and a few towns (Francistown, some more…) everything else is labeled a village.  The times I have slipped up and called Francistown a city they get a frantic look and extent the previous explanation.  We had homemade pizza and talked about the challenges some of the new volunteers were experiencing.  Nobody had anything too serious bothering them and I look forward to see them in a few more months to see how things worked out.  We packed it in kind of late and made plans for the next day.

Not everyone was able to go along on the next day’s event but those who went were in for a real treat!  We hitched 10 minutes outside of Tshabong and visited a camel park!!  Most of us rode them for a lap or two around the enclosure and got all kinds of information from the people running the site.  Our hosts were Kenyans, but they were leaving in a few weeks and the park will be run by all local Motswana.  It was an inexpensive activity and worth every thebe.  We also go to see a porcupine’s home (a deep hole) and learned that they feed off of the bones of other animals.  They need the calcium for their quills and bones are good for that.  I found out from my mom that I did indeed ride a camel way back when the Louisville Zoo offered it.  Getting on one now I wonder how I handled the experience as a kid.  I am sure someone went up with me but it is kind of intimidating.  You do not mount a camel the same as a horse.  Instead the camel lowers itself when you get on and then rises with a zigzag motion that changes your weight around.

We ended up heading out the next day, but met up with some of the crew the next weekend in Kang for a meeting about a GLOW camp.  GLOW stands for Girls Leading Our World.  We are trying to put together a weekend event for some Form 4 and Form 5 girls from the Senior Secondary School in Kang.  Some of the workshop topics we are thinking about are: self-esteem, healthy living, decision making, Gender Based Violence, contraception, peer pressure, and leadership skills.  Since it is the first meeting we spent a lot of it brainstorming different aspects of the camp.  I am going to be looking for funding through some government agencies here in Botswana and Tracy will be putting together a budget and doing a budget template for others who want to start GLOW camps in the future.  This will be some of my first attempts at writing grants so if anyone has any tips or templates I would greatly appreciate it.

John, Michael, Tracy, Tate, Dominique, Haley, and Jan.
We stayed at Jan’s place and ate like kings and queens.  Jan likes to cook and she does it well.  We had zucchini bread galore and on the last night had a great pasta dish.  I ate more than I should have, but it was well worth it.  After the meeting we went to a dancing session that Tate (the newest Kang PCV!!Woohoo!) invited us to.  She stays on a family compound and they are having a wedding on August 18th, so she has been asked to dance.  This was just a practice session so we were able join in and have some fun.  There was a drunken guy that invited himself and had some MOVES!  He is in front of Tracy in the video and that is why she is having such a hard time following the others.  The video we are posting does not do the dancing fellow justice.  I will have to create a montage of his moves and post it another time.  That is what we have been up to lately!

Hope everyone is doing well.  We love and miss you all.

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