“Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet.” – Bob Marley

Writing this I’m accompanied by the brilliant booming sounds of our first African thunderstorm, and ohhh how refreshing the rain is. For the past couple of weeks, looking up into the dark overcast skies, I felt my eyes widen with hope that maybe, just maybe, we’ll get a little rain. But my hope slowly diminished after hearing, from basically the entire population of Botswana, that the possibility of this happening was extremely low….but still we swear we can almost taste the rain. Now, after days of waiting, wishing, hoping, the rain finally came and I could not be more content. Standing outside, feeling the drizzling warm rain on my tired face, I can’t even explain how reviving and energizing, but mostly how comforting it was. It felt like home… something I have to admit I’d be missing a little lately. Well… I could go on and on about this rain thats still coming down, but the thing is, lots of fun things happened this week!

Today at Stepping Stones, I finally got to meet with the group of kids who are a part of the  Hungry Hippos (catchy name right?). The Hungry Hippos consists of Stepping Stones participants interested in baking/cookings and selling food/refreshments to the community as means for learning about income generation. Stepping Stones organization does an amazing job at searching out individual talents and skills of youth and really opening their eyes at the possibilities of their future. By working in a group like the Hungry Hippos, each can realize their strengths and assets that they bring to the “company”. The money that the raise over their time here goes into a joint account, and if the participants stay with SSI until graduation, they receive their portion of this money to use for future endeavours. Pretty wicked right?? Well, obviously if you know me, cooking and baking are definitely two of my favourite things, so I am super excited to get creative with this group! Along with the Hungry Hippos there is the Pretty Peacocks, who sell second hand, donated clothes to the community also as a means for income generation. So today, Shila and I along with 10 or so kids squeezed TONS of lemons (which don’t really resemble the lemons you find in North America… these ones were TINY!) and as a group put together some brilliant Lemonade to sell tomorrow. Although, Shila and I both forgot to take the batch out of the freezer before we left work – oops! hopefully it’s not too frozen tomorrow :S Maybe we can sell snow cones? or make some sorbet?

On another note, this afternoon was also especially interesting… I recently purchased a Mochudi “Shape” gym membership and I’m pretty excited about it. It’s about a 7 minute walk from Stepping Stones, so super close to work and although it’s by no means Goodlife, or even close to the infamous X gym, it’s wonderful. While the people in Mochudi still aren’t used to see a white female in a gym, I’ve become about 90% oblivious to the stares we get 24/7, so I’m not really phased anymore. The first day I went in for a work out and found the bathroom (you can’t even imagine how stoked I was they had a toilet AND toilet paper … this is definitely a rare find in Botswana)… rounding the corner I noticed a shower! Now if you’ve been reading my blog, you know fair well that I haven’t had a shower in over 6 weeks, and baths just are not my thing, so to see a shower is absolutely a beautiful sight. Although there was a shower I was a little sketched to use it seeing as there wasn’t a lock on the door and primarily the people i see in the gym are male. However, TODAY when I went in, this bathroom was taken, but the lady running the gym informed me there was a bathroom around the corner – the GIRLS bathroom…. whoops hahaha missed that one

…. and YES there was a shower in this one AND there is a lock on the door AND it was quite obvious the ladies room was definitely favoured when it came to where the money was spent. My god was this shower BEAUTIFUL. The biggest, most appealing shower i have ever seen in my life! I really wanted to take a picture of it, just to rub in Shila’s face hahaha! Although I’m fairly certain I can convince her to get a membership JUST for the shower (shhhhh). This was just the beginning of my work out too… One guy that works out, LOVES taking advantage of the surround sound, booming speakers and had them blasting right away. About 20 minutes in I noticed a song change to the one and only Barry White. How funny it was to work out to ” My darling I can’t get enough of your love babe”… laughing to myself I continued on, only to be startled minutes later when the smallest kitten bolted through my legs. For about 10 minutes this kitten ran back and forth… there was no shortage on entrainment and surprises today I tell you.
Speaking of cats… the other night I could have SWORN there was a ghost in my room (just wait, there is a connection here)… A plastic bag in the corner of my room would randomly start crumpling in the middle of the night, waking me up, and when I would shine a light on it, it would stop for like an hour, then start again. I definitely thought our new house was haunted (and wouldn’t ben surprised if it was with our luck). After being nervous to sleep the next night I saw a mouse scamper out from under my bed. Ooops, my bad, we’re not be haunted, we just have mice. Of course we do, every day it’s something new with this new house were in – first it was exploding washing machine, flooding the whole bathroom, to the plugged sink, and electrocuting tubs, and a very frustrating tv… on and on and on we go, but hey we have a roof, beds, bathroom and fridge, that’s all we need and more than I can ask for! So we told our landlord about this new found friend – his response “I can get you a cat if you want?” I guess just a simple trap was out of the question…
Also Shila and I have been looking to purchase some bikes while we’re here. Living in Mochudi, we figure we could take advantage of the flat lands and get some good exercise, all the while avoiding the super cramped combies, where they never seem to understand where we need to get off.

Bas Ass Dino HelmetWhile there area couple of bikes for sale in Mochudi, we got a little picky and wanted some more variety. After convincing Stepping Stones’ right hand woman – Tinny to take us to the city in her truck so we could bring back our bikes, we found out that a bigger city does not necessarily mean more variety. The store we were in – similar to a Walmart here, had EVERYTHING (we’re not so sure why it took us so long to find it)… unfortunately those roll back prices were not a thing in this store. The only bikes we could find we’re upwards of 2000 pula – over 250 Canadian! AND they came in a box that you have to assemble by yourself – something Shila and i didn’t think we had the patience for…The ones in Mochudi were 750 (about 100 bucks canadian) and came all ready to go. None the less, I grabbed my kick-ass helmet (which is mainly for the SSI kids …. but also bc i love dinos) and a decent lock for the bikes which we still don’t have…

Also check out this sweet motivational quote I found, which definitely suits my current location, and maybe a little play on my last name?
MOTIVATION!!!!!
This weekend Shila and I are heading up to Kasane for a Safari then to Victoria Falls, we’re VERY VERY VERY excited and there will be lots of pictures coming soon… of me, not Barry White, I promise 🙂
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Attention : We Have Pictures!!

Finally…. after MUCH blood, sweat and tears (not even exaggerating here) I got some pictures up!

Here’s some of the super exciting Botswana Zebra’s world cup qualifying game against South Africa – We won 4 -1 ! The stands were packed with blue wigs, funny costumes, large flags and random costumes. As a group of white tourists, we definitely stood out in the crowd (as per usual) but Botswana was SO excited that they had a group of foreign supporters. Walking away from the game we received multiple personal thanks, handshakes, photos and car honks. Near the end there was a massive flash mob in part of the stands…. GO ZEBRAS!!!

Here’s some quick snaps of life in Botswana and some moments from our trip to G-City (the capital)… included in such is some official evidence of the fact that as I mentioned, about 2 times a week our power gets cut, and for some reason it is usually around dinner time 😦 thank god we have a gas stove…I’ve become quite used to seeing in the dark now, but we need an extra light, our trusty 20 dollar cell phones have a super bright flashlight app! WOOO go technology.

The beautiful lady holding the chicken is our House mum, or Nana B, or Mma Seitei. Shila snapped this priceless shot when she heard very loud and odd sounds coming from just outside the kitchen. What she witnessed was our apparently quite agile Mma Seitei catching a chicken, and tying it in a plastic bag to be sold. The chicken then continued to sit, squawking, tied up on the counter for HOURS – definitely something I am thankful for missing.

Last weekend Shila and I finally buckled down and did our laundry for the first time! This was the first time I’ve hung my clothes on a clothes line outside… something I was quite nervous about due to the blowing red dust EVERYWHERE in Mochudi… sure enough when I checked on them outside my black pants had fallen and soaked in the red beautiful earth that is Botswana.

Earlier that weekend we ventured to G-city, finding ourselves in shock and awe at the beautiful produce available in the grocery store, such a luxury for us, and where we settled in at a great little Steakhouse. Quickly I had a Botswana beer and juicy cheeseburger in both of my hands… as you can see from our large smiles we were quite content!! However, I was definitely unaware that this hamburger would soon be the cause of my  unsettled stomach on the bus ride home… resulting in me carrying home 2 grocery bags – one containing my ten dollar box of honey combs (which were worth every penny) and the other a bag of my previously eaten and partially digested hamburger…and therefore my very first throw up on public transit.

ALSO – WHO REMEMBERS ASTROS!??!?!?! because they are making my life right now…

As I mentioned before, during my lunch break I really enjoy going for walks around the neighbourhood. It keeps me fresh and lets me meet some of the neighbours around the area. The first couple of walks were actually quite overwhelming. I seemed to be a big white magnet, attracting tons of kids who wanted to talk to me, walk with me, and touch me. I definitely felt like a major tourist attraction… after the third time seeing them they obviously lost their interest though and after a quick hello I was able to make my way around. Last week I met a group of kids who were playing in one of the pathways and once they realized I had my camera on me, my walk turned into a huge photo shoot. After finally escaping these guys I saw two little 3 year year old walking down a path hand in hand, obviously sniping a great photo… they too realize I had a camera… or maybe were blinded by the fact that I was white and ran up to me. I was the very first white person they had ever seen. Unfortunately, they spoke no english and and while they were speaking Setswana I know they were bombarding me with questions, questions I very much wish I could have answered for them. They grabbed my hands, my legs, my hair, my face… lifted my shirt and my pants to make sure that my white skin was real and existed under my clothes. They stared deep into my eyes trying to figure out what the heck I was. I could hear the ladies in the yard across from us doing their wash, laughing to each other about what was going on. This was an experience I will definitely never forget.

Also… another amazing moment during a walk. I always meet so many camera happy faces along the way, but these kids were probably one of my favourite moments. Leisurely walking back to work, still trying to process my skin colour curious new friends, I felt the ground rumbling and looking up witnessed a stampede of kids running towards me. Thinking they were late I laughed and moved aside and decided to snap a quick picture. As soon as I raised my camera they went NUTS! I realized they were running to ME, to get a picture! I am so happy I caught them all in sequence.

FINALLY… it’s about time I show you some great moments at Stepping Stones…

Last week for June 16 – Day of the African Child I was asked to come up with an activity. This was pretty nerve wracking… considering the plain fact that I am not African, nor had I heard of this day until a couple days before the event. For some more info about the day I suggest you check out ttp://www.hrea.org/index.php?doc_id=1038. To give you a very vague idea, the day commemorates the kids who were killed during a student lead protest in 1976 fighting for their right to be taught in their own language. So to recognize the day, SSI themed the week Day of the African Child. Early in the week we watched the film Sarifina, which describes in great detail the events that went down in South Africa… I highly recommend you check out this film. Facilitators also included a much needed couple days of debrief of the movie, it’s some pretty heavy stuff. For my activity with the participants I developed a children’s rights and responsibility activity involving putting puzzle pieces together, which included some debrief.

On another note, this past week I really realized how many “firsts” I’ve accomplished, so for your entertainment here they are:

The first time I :

1) Used a permanent marked on the whiteboard for a lesson …. whoops, but I assure you, it did come off with a major scrub down and lots of elbow grease, and I also assure you that this is more than likely to happen on multiple occasions.

2) Caught a cold in another country… this African cold was most definitely not fun but I’ve pretty much gotten rid of it!

3) Threw up on a bus. I definitely hope this is the first and only time. Probably due to the half cooked hamburger that was just too good to pass up… According to Shila this event was actually quite graceful, I had my plastic bag ready to go and didn’t even make a sound. Although I’m not sure when or if I’ll be ready to give Botswana meat another chance.

4) Have consistently cooked oatmeal on the stove, basically on the daily, and it turns out okay.

5) Have cooked my oatmeal next to a pot of chicken feet… and wasn’t even grossed out.

6) Listened to Brandy – thanks to my musically inclined neighbour – Kamelo

7) Heard country music in a a country other than Canada and the United States – in fact it was the theme of the restaurant we went to on the weekend

8) Hung my clothes to dry on a clothes line – only one pair of my pants fell in the dirt, so I consider this to be a huge accomplishment

9) I joined the Arrested Development community… blew threw the first season in a week…

10) Bought African pants in an African Country… woooo got 2 brand new pairs this weekend!! soooo excited 😀

11) I received some classic African dance lessons from the kids… I don’t know what it is, but these people were made to dance, although they were equally enthused to learn how to Cat Daddy, do it like Bernie and crip walk… I’m leaving the lawnmower and sprinkler to next week

12) Have a room mate, thank god it’s with a super cool chick, or this would be a disaster

13) Go to bed on the daily around 9:30/10 pm… last night was a late one for me… I was up until 11.

14) Got my first Botswana name! A taxi driver was honoured to give me the name “WiTumelo” which apparently means happiness… I’m okay with this 🙂

15) Have listened fully to Rebecca Blacks song Friday… cant really say I’m a fan. When the weekend comes it’s become kind of our tradition to sing songs about it being friday…

16) Will be celebrating Canada day in another country!! We have lots of fun things planned though 🙂

I’m sure there are plenty more and I will be adding those to the list soon!

Happy Canada Day Weekend everyone !!!

 

Africa seriously does not like me posting blogs

First off I’d like to point out that this blog was meant for last week, and after literally hours of me attempting to post this, the internet and wordpress finally gave me a break. One downfall – I had TONS of pictures to go with this one, but apparently those were not able to find their way into the internet world.. so I promise that as soon as I can there will be a many of pictures coming your way! Now for the actual blog…

WHERE HAS THE WEEK GONE???

It seems like I blink and the week is over. I can’t believe we’re almost done our third week here, I have no idea where the time has gone. This isn’t to say that I am not cherishing every moment my feet are covered in African soil…and when I say covered, I literally mean covered. While I secretly wish my feet were naturally this beautifully full of colour I know in my heart that it’s because I haven’t taken my own advice and ditched my foamy 2 dollar flip flops yet and the red soil has clung to my ever glowing white feet.

 

Last saturday was the first “sports” day at Stepping Stones since I have been here in Mochudi. SO excited for this day, I rose on this beautiful morning fully prepared to make a fool of myself due to my very mediocre football skills. At least I thought I had prepared for the day… On my own, I made my way to the taxi, smoked my head off the door and delightfully shook it off. On my way to Stepping Stones I passed the corner that housed a VERY recent litter of puppies and their mum only to find that the mom had vanished…leaving three, 3 day old pups scratching and hollering. Sadly I had to keep going, convincing myself that Kathy Running would not approve of me adopting three brand new nomad pups at this stage in the game… so i moseyed on…only to be confronted with a 2 on 1 dog fight around the corner. YIKES this morning I was definitely not prepared for, still I carried on, teary eyed and emotionally disarrayed. Although I figured some physical activity would most definitely help take my mind of this brutally emotional morning.

 

Getting to the field, I was immediately slapped in the face with the passion, heart and intensity each of the players brought. After playing some netball (which I finally figured out is a mixture of European handball and basketball – only with no backboard), I nervously made my way to the football field. When the boys asked me if I wanted in, I nervously (and a little regrettably) volunteered for mid field. Yikes, that was also something I was not fully prepared for. Playing football was something I hadn’t done since Grade 10, which apparently was a LONG time ago…It was as though I was a donkey amongst a pack of wild horses. I scrambled to keep my position and ran my fastest for the ball, but 20 minutes was enough for me, the red, loose dirt did not agree with my nike frees. In fact when I came off the field and emptied my shoes, I found over a cup of dirt in each one!! With my awkward dismissal of the game I was able to witness how much of a crowd we had attracted. It seemed as though the whole neighbourhood had come out to see this game, it was absolutely wonderful to be apart of.

 

That afternoon I decided to take the weekend as an opportunity to head for G-City (how ghetto does that sound? so much better than gabs). Without time, or even the means to shower, I washed the dirt off my feet (shout out Big D) and headed for the Bus Rank. The buses are supposed to come every 30 minutes… but as I’ve come to realize it’s more like once an hour. After talking with the friend I was going to meet up with via Botswana 20 dollar phone, I figured out that I had run out of minutes and needed to get some before I got the bus or else I would never find her. After a very long debate of waiting for the bus or getting minutes for my phone, minutes definitely took it by a landslide, no way did I want to be stuck in G city with no means of communication. So I ran to grab minutes, only to miss the bus… great, wait another hour, outside, in the 30 degree scolding sun. I called my friend in gabs to tell her the awful luck I had been having all day and that the chances of my getting to g city to meet her was very slim.. but just after I hung up, a man asked me if I wanted a ride to gabs in his van (with a ton of other people from Mochudi – mainly females), after getting a good vibe from this guy and the people inside the van, I graciously accepted. I called my friend back and found myself getting into g-city wayyyy sooner than expected! She told me I had to transfer to Lobatse, so after getting to the HUGE/MASSIVE/ENORMOUS outdoor bus station, the lady I sat beside in the van guided me to the right bus. The bus took off in time and excited I was early I called up my friend, only to find out she wanted me to meet her at the bus station in gabs… wooops. Now i had no idea where I was going, I was by myself and no body on this bus seemed to be able to tell me how long this bus would take or where I should get off… great, such a great day.

 

Eventually I figured it out and wanted for my friends at the Lobatse station. Finally we all met up and made our way over to the field… OH YEAH DID I MENTION we were heading to the Botswana – South Africa World Cup Qualifier???? WOOOOO so exciting!!! I met up with my friends friends and made a bunch of new g city friends, all from U-Penn!! so wonderful to know more people in this large country! Now I do understand that being a foreigner and being white I am a major minority here. That is pretty evident everywhere we go… however, to have a camera constantly following you around because you’re white is another thing. Having a group conversation, there were people literally in our faces with cameras, not talking to us, just taking pictures. This was absolutely not something I was comfortable with. It is one this to be stared at, constantly, but to actually have people taking pictures of us “white” people made us feel like a circus act. Aside from those moments, the game was AWESOME. Botswana took it 4-1 and the crowd was insane!! It was such a great experience to be apart of! Everyone there appreciated our North American support and let us know it.

 

That night I ate the biggest burger I had ever seen and it was absolutely wonderful! Maybe not as good as the shower I got that night though! wooooo showers! so luxurious.The next time I had a chance to go shopping, but not just any kind of shopping… grocery shopping. Because Mochudi is so small and rural, our food selections are pretty limited. Walking into a grocery store in G-City and seeing more than 4 isles of food was basically breath taking… I actually felt quite over whelmed. I spent maybe 30 minutes just walking up and down every isle. All in all, my only purchases there was some pesto, sundried tomato pasta sauce, spinach tortalini and an aero chocolate bar (yumm).

 

I came back in the afternoon on Sunday so refreshed and energized! While G-City is a wonderfully convenient city, full of shopping malls, grocery stores, combi’s, and restaurants, I am very much content in this little village of Mochudi (for now). The hustle bustle of the city is great.. once in a while.

 

It seems that after 3 weeks we are finally getting quite familiarized with our surroundings. People are staring at us less, which is nice and I definitely feel more comfortable here. During my lunch break at Stepping Stones I like to go for walks. It gives me an idea of my bearings and helps me relax, ponder, de-stress. Down the road from Stepping Stones is a primary school. My first walk down this way resulted in literally 20 kids surrounding me wanting to join me on my walk. One thing I’ve really noticed is that a lot of the kids if they aren’t in school and haven’t been taught English see us and yell “Howyouuuuu” as in “How are you”. When you respond with “good, how are you?” they just repeat “Howwyouuu”. It’s quite entertaining. Today on my walk I took a new route and found myself lost in the whiney dirt roads and fenced pathways. With my camera in my hand I was quite content. A group of kids down the road noticed my camera and as expected wanted a billion pictures, after 10 or so I had to move on… I noticed a couple of 3 year olds walking down the pathway hand in hand and had to snap a photo. They too ran to me…the very first white person they had ever seen in their life. Intrigued by my skin colour they grabbed my hands, felt my skin, felt my feet, my legs, my hair, grabbed my face and squeezed it tight. I had a similar experience the other night with the little boy that visits our place quite regularly. Sitting on my lap, he likes the grab my face and bring it as close to his as possible, stare deep into my eyes and I can just see his brain lighting up, trying to figure out what I am. I wish so badly that I could speak Setswana and have conversations with these kids who speak no English. I’m trying my best to learn, even downloaded a couple of Setswana language lessons onto my iTunes, it’s getting that serious.

 

While I may not be picking up spoken Setswana too quickly, we do have the opportunity to participate in free Setswana sign language lessons twice a week! Hopefully I’m not going to overwork my language capacity soon…

 

hmmm on another note, our neighbour, who is 22 and I exchanged some music last week. Really exciting! I gave him tons of my underground hip hop, some classified (reppin’ Canada!) and some well-known hip hip/r and b artists he hasn’t heard of yet. In return I got Celine, the Backstreet Boys, Justin Beiber, Brandy, Kelly Rowland and about 4 Chris Brown albums…. I’m not sure how much I’ll keep haha

 

As far as Stepping Stones goes, I’m pretty much all over the place! Currently I am helping with Study Skills sessions and teaching kids 12-15 Math and Reading… so if anyone out there has some sweet resources or ideas for me please please please share!! I’ve been scouring the internet and have some good ground work but some extra help would be amazing 🙂 I’m also helping to design a summer sports schedule for when school is out! We’re really trying to integrate more physical activity and variety into the program. Hopefully this will help some kids break out of their shells and discover new talents or develop those that already exist. The main focus for these kids has always been football and netball, so introducing rugby, basketball, volleyball and doing some more badminton and track will hopefully keep kids interested in being active! As far as the equipment situation goes, it is pretty limited, although I have to say I have had worse in Canada, so I’m sure there won’t be any problems figuring something out there.

 

Also, I am working with Stepping Stones to develop a better nutrition plan that we can follow. At SSI the participants receive one meal at 5 pm. As SS focuses it’s attentions on vulnerable youth, it’s a sad reality that for some this meal is the only one that they might receive in a day. This means it is absolutely crucial to have the resources to hit each food group and obtain the highest nutritional value possible in one meal. While at Stepping Stones, most participants are in their growing stages and need lots of dairy, meat and fruit (which can all be quite expensive here). It’s fairly obvious that a lot of participants face stunted growth and aren’t able to reach their full physical development potential. Nutrition is a huge interest of mine and I am really excited to see what developments we can make these next couple of months!

ALSO… I counted my blankets on my bed last night and I’m up to 7… 😦

ps – please please please send me emails! I LOVE hearing from people at home! Send as many as you’d like to katesprinting@hotmail.com

Also please check out my travel accomplice’s blog for some more updates and some pictures

www.shilaandbotswana.blogspot.com

 

Dumela!!

No I did NOT drop off the face of the earth…. I’m just busy being in AFRICA!!!
Being here I have come to realize I am not fulfilling my goal of being an avid blogger and to all of you who have been waiting for this blog update I sincerely apologize.
Because I have officially been in Africa for 7 days there is a LOT of things to catch you up on….likeeee how did I get here? Well my friends it all started with a 1:00 am departure on June first to the handy dandy Halifax airport, which I pretty much know like the back of my hand. From there we boarded a casual 5:40 am flight to Toronto where  we patiently waited for our 13 hour flight to Ethiopia… and let me telllll you for my first over night flight YIKES. Originally I was stoked to have a beautiful window seat with no one behind me – reclines for dayyyysss. HOWEVER, this flight seemed to be even tighter than the usual porter flight to Ottawa, lord it was a squished flight. For 13 hours I felt shoved in a corner, casually wakened every couple of hours by the three screaming babies we had on board with us. Although with my trusty pillow, piggy blanket, and Tim Hortons chocolate chip muffin (of which I cherished every single bite)  I say I had it better than most. Getting out of that sardine can felt wonderful, only to be thrown onto our third flight to South America. Again with my pillow in hand I partook in another beautiful 5 hour sleep. After landing in Joburg, we had to leave our beloved travel partners – Blake and Logan. Shila and I were officially on our own to argue with the customer service about allowing that second bag on the flight, sprinting to make our connection to realize as per usual it was running on Africa time. Landing in Botswana, reuniting with our bags to be blinded by a gleaming x ring and x alum was absolutely relieving.
After a beautiful dinner with our director, probably the last shower we will ever take (I’ll explain this in a minute) and a great sleep, we headed to Mochudi! So here we are – 4 flights, 2 nights later we are in our home for the next 6 months WOOOO.
Just a little info about the village Mochudi – although it seems to be quite small, it is home to over 40,000 people!  The people here are absolutely charming, friendly, interested in getting to know everybody. There is a huge sense of community here, one I am very happy and lucky to be welcomed into and apart of. Walking down the road it is very uncommon to not say hello or “Dumela” to EVERY SINGLE PERSON. Now being white, we definitely are receiving a fair share of attention, but it is out of pure curiosity, Batswana (the people of Botswana) do not discriminate. Everyone wants to say hi, whether they are are the street, in the store, in their cars or half way down the road.
While in Mochudi we are staying with a beautiful lady, whom very much reminds me of my nana, and so forth I call Nana B. She’s a retired nurse and is very concerned for our wellbeing safety and comfort. She is absolutely wonderful.
Because Mochudi is quite spread out, it has been very difficult find a 2 open rooms in an area close to the “hub” of Mochudi, let alone a place with a shower, running water, a fridge, and a roof (apparently a tin roof is not considered a roof). So as of now Shila and I are sharing a single room… who would have thought the first time we both had to share a room would be in Africa at 22??
Aside from the small shared space, we have full access to a kitchen, bathroom (no shower though), and a tv! – so mom and dad no worries here 🙂 Although, we have had our challenges. The adaptors we brought both don’t work, so we have to figure out how to charge our laptops (ya ya so first world, but if you want us to keep in touch, these things have to be charged!)…
Just a couple things I’ve learned this week:
  1. Nana B LOVES Big Brother Africa (yes it exists and it is on 24/7…whether they are in the house or not, the cameras are always rollin) and her Nigerian soap operas – which are HI LAR I OUS. 
  2. Winter in Africa means
    Much needed to keep my feet warm!

    Much needed to keep my feet warm!

    1. VERY cold nights, sometimes cold days. Students wear a tuque, winter jackets and gloves. I however refuse to give in my sandals and short sleeves.
    2. it gets pitch black at 6 pm meaning our 5:30 end time at work leaves us walking down our pitch black road every night and ALSO meaning we are not allowed (Nana B rules) to leave our place after 6…. i am not a big fan of that. Although as a positive I am getting TONS of sleep
    3. I slept with 5 heavy blankets last night
  3. Chicken’s are EVERYWHERE  and after days of research conducted by Shila, they know where they live. These chickens are not communal chickens to go to those in need, they return home after their daily walks up and down the roads. According to some, it is passed down to children that if one were to steal a chicken they are cursed by the witches for life.
  4. As I mentioned before showers are not a thing here. Very few people in Africa wash their hair more than once a month, so there really is no need. So I have decided to make it a mission to wash my hair as least as possible (SHOUT OUT FELLOW PLANTERS!). This past week I made it 5 days.
  5. Milk comes in a box, is not refrigerated until after it is opened and takes a a very long time to expire …not sure what’s up with this but it takes fine so no bigg.
  6. Nana B doesn’t think I should get a weave… although pretty soon I will probably give into braids, especially given the shower situation.
  7. Power outages are a huge thing here. There is currently a power and gas shortage. Twice this week our power has gone out right when we get home… leaving us with unpowered laptops and resulting in ghost stories.
  8. Cell phones are EVERYWHERE. Many people have multiple phones – 2 or 3 which different sim cards in them to make it cheaper for them to call certain places. Our phones cost us 20 dollars and are even equipped with a built in flashlight (coming in handy after all of the power outages) and SNAKE
  9. It costs about $3 roundtrip to take a bus into Gabs (the short form for the big city in Bots)…the first time we went to take the bus it broke down on the side of the road – apparently an uncommon event. During this event, I became quite a bit of entertainment when a  2 year old boy started yelling at me in Setwana (the language of Botswana) and pointing at me. While I thought he was simply interested in the fact that we were white, after some chats with some ladies, he was yelling “What are you eating??” and pointing at my orange, and clearly wanting a piece. And he got one. It was a great time passer. After about 30 minutes we got on the new bus, and when the line up started I tried to make a point in not being the last ones on, knowing we wouldn’t get a seat for the two hour ride. And I was right. The only two white people (Shila and I) did not have seats, leaving  us to get a little creative and climb behind the last seats. Stadium seating, I won’t complain.
  10. Kids here love rap. On the bus some kids had their phone playing some lil Wayne and as much as I love Lil Wayne, my god the lyrics are awful.
  11. As much as you think you are prepared, you never are. For one, Shila and I both invested in adaptors, both which were the wrong ones, meaning it has been a struggled to charge our stuff. Secondly, as much as I love my new laptop, much of the necessary programs I need I don’t have, like VLC – movie watching, forget it. Our internet is so slow I doubt I will ever get it.

    Soccer Ball = Major Necessity!

    Soccer Ball = Major Necessity!

  12. Boys LOVE their soccer here (no big surprise) but Netball is also a huge sport for girls, one I’m really excited to start playing on Satuday. Rugby is also pretty big here ! Shout out to the X team, whom I gloat about quite often!
  13. No one knows what hacky sack, but they love it when I bring mine and show them
  14. Catholic Church is pretty universal – for the most part. Nana B took us to her church today, St Annes for 8 am. This means up at 7 on a Sunday – yuck, and out the door at 7:30 for church at 8. Fair enough, IF the mass started at 8. Even mass was on Botswana time today… people strolled in as late as 830, meaning we sat in the VERY cold church for 40 minutes before the priest came in. Looking around, many of the ladies had brought thick blankets with them – something I will definitely do next time, although it didn’t take long before the place was quickly booming with makeshift drums and chimes, beautiful singing, a choreographed choir and a very charismatic 2 year old at the front of the room enthusiastically demonstrating his karate moves for the duration of the mass. When it came time to wish other peace and shake hands, the entire room was up and moving around, I literally shook hands with every single person in the room. The love, passion and energy could be felt throughout the whole room.
  15. I am sadly facing the reality that I may never ever get used to the sound of guinea fouls. Sounding like a vehicle
    The Beasts

    The Beasts

    breakdown/dying/william hung impersonator every single night between the hours of 1 am – 5 am… I’m slowly going insane…

  16. The students with the SSI program are SO eager to learn. I absolutely love the energy that they bring each day. They all have been so welcoming and full of passion. I am very excited to have the opportunity to witness them grow these next couple of months.
Okay so now for the work part of it! No it’s not all fun and games, but mostly 😛 For the most part  this past week has just been about settling into our placements, meeting people and observing. While right now every things been at a pretty relaxed pace we were told to enjoy that while we can. HOWEVER, on friday while observing, one of the interns from UPENN was planning on teaching the group some oragami so that the students could take flowers into their teachers. Under the impression I would be helping out some students follow the directions, I got thrown into the line of fire. Given a piece of paper I was told to lead the ENTIRE group – about 40 students, on ORIGAMI. When have i EVER done origami??? NEVER. and to teach to a room full of students of varying ages and ability, wowwww that was a bit of a heart stopper. After realizing this would be a very difficult and frustrating process we got the students to split into three groups, each with a leader. Still, I found myself at a table of 20 students, reading directions of how to make this paper flower. Many of the students we After all of that, I am proud to say I could quite easily now make you a paper flower.
WOW Sorry for this book I just wrote!! It’s pretty hard condensing a week long of adventures and experiences in another country much shorter than that!
I promise I will try to write blogs more often!
Check out some more pics!

All locked up

All locked up

Our view down the road

Our view down the road

 

Beautiful orange tree next door

Beautiful orange tree next door

 

Never forget where you come from…

WOW! After 3 crazy, intense, wonderful weeks, with 19 crazy, intense, wonderful people, the time has finally come to say goodbye… Goodbye to family, to friends (life long ones and band new ones) and to CANADA!!!!

Image

After countless hours of placement preparation, logistics, crazy learning and self discovery, packing and unpacking the time has finally come to the leave this place. We have done all that we can do and now it’s up to Air Canada to get us to where we need to go (hopefully with all of our luggage intact).

Now the plan is to fly out early early early tomorrow morning… like 5 am early, partake in multiple plane changes, many bag exchanges, tons of hacky sac games, airplane naps and probably  lots of shoulder naps….all with fun, beautiful, adventures friends. Usually I don’t find myself particularly excited for 30 hours of travel, but this time I don’t think it’s going to be that bad 🙂

Before I leave I really wanted to take a second here and mention how absolutely amazing and supportive my family and friends have been through this whole thing. Good wishes, tons of questions and interest, blog followers and genuine concern from all of you has literally been so heartwarming I question myself for leaving all of you ❤ I am truly blessed to have such amazing people in my life and for this I am forever grateful. The support from all of you means the world to me.

Keep an eye on my blog folks… as you know, something wildly comical is bound to happen to me sooner or later 😉

The Beginning

Hello wonderful fellow bloggers! I am absolutely excited to join your online adventure documenting community!

I am new to all of this, so bear with me as I attempt to update you with all my wonderful travel challenges, accomplishments, and and escapades!  What is the special occasion? Well folks I am pleased to announce that on June 1st I will be heading to BOTSWANA! Yes my friends, I will be heading to Africa!!! Now aside from what you’re all thinking, I’m not just hopping a plane and roaming around looking for elephants to ride…. I was lucky enough to accept an offer to be part of the Youth in Partnership Program with the Coady International Institute.

coady

Just a little background info for you – The Coady is located in Antigonish, NS, right on the St. FX campus (where I did my undergrad). For all you keeners that want to know more check out http://coady.stfx.ca/. This internship is one of the reasons I was so interested in attending X, and to be honest it’s pretty incredible when your dreams do come true…although I definitely thought after grad it would be quite some time before I stepped foot in Antigonowhere again. However, flying back here (after a much needed week at home) I must say the town of Antigonish has definitely grown on me.

My official position with Stepping Stones – Life Skills and Sports Associate, has literally been tailed to my background and I am beyond excited to get started!While in Botswana I have the amazing opportunity to work with Stepping Stones International. This NGO works with and encourages orphaned or vulnerable youth to explore their interests to discover their own potential and provides them with the essential skills to cope with whatever life deals them.

Check out their home page – http://steppingstonesintl.org/

As far as logistics go I will be flying out June 1st and back to this beautiful winter wonderland December 1st.

ELEPHANTS!!!That means 6 months of work, travel, elephants, new friends, experience and 6 months of BONDING WITH MY WONDERFUL TRAVEL BUDDY SHILA!!!! I am so so so excited and comforted by the fact I will be sharing this experience with this cool chick. So far we seem to complement each other amazingly, she’s got the all the meds and research down pat, and I’ve got the chill vibes goin, AND we both share an unconditional love of elephants (which we both hope to see a lot of!)

As far our lives until we hit the runway, 19 beautiful, life loving YIPPERS are joining me in the challenges and struggles of living in good old Mount St Bernard (somewhere I thought I would never step foot in again), living off questionable meal hall food…

Everyone here has been so amazing and friendly I can’t believe it… we’ve gotten along so well, it’s going to be tough to say good bye in a couple of weeks 😦 BUT we do still have a good 13 days together to fall deeper and deeper in love ❤ and each day is undoubtedly cherished.

So, in the new few months be sure to keep an eye out for my updates and pictures (not just google images, real pictures) of the our beautiful Botswana adventures!!!

Just to give you some visuals as to where we’re headed:
Africa

More specifically, we’ll be staying in the village of Mochudi, about 50 km from Gaborone, the capital of Botswana.

Mochudi

That’s all I got for you tonight folks! I hope you enjoyed my very first blog 🙂 I will be adding more in digestible chunks to keep it interesting.

Peace and love out there friends ❤