Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Library!

Hey everyone,

So I wanted to write a blog on some good news.  My school has officially started a library.  I finished putting it together yesterday so that way when Term 2 starts kids can come and check-out books.  Please note that the following tale about starting a library is quite unusual.  I had a lot of positive factors work in my favor that made this possible in such a short time.  Most PCVs are not lucky enough to have all of this working for them.

So naturally the first step is to get people on board with the idea of making a library.  Usually this can be an issue just in itself, but at the beginning of March (yeah, this whole process took just a month-rather unusual) my counterpart came to me and said that she wanted to start one at the school.  Community interest accomplished!  Onto the next step.

This is usually one of the hardest steps to accomplish.  Finding a space.  Most schools need a new building built in order to house any size library.  Lots of PCVs have to scrounge for donations, including grant writing to try and accomplish this.  Once again, I had a huge stroke of good fortune.  Our school had a store room with not a lot in it that could be cleared out and relocated.

Sure, it isn't the biggest space in the world, in fact it is just a storage closet.  But it is better than having nothing available, that is for sure.  So naturally the next step in the process is to clear out the store room.  (Although this step actually did not get done till after we got book donations, it still needs to get done before assembling the library.)

And once the school cleaned out the space, I was ready to rock and roll on putting this thing together.  I went around to several classes and got teachers to give me some metal cabinets they were not using so I would have something to put the books on.


Since 1998 the Botswana Book Project has been responsible for bringing over 450,000 books to schools all throughout Botswana.  Started by Pam Shelton in the Maun area, it has spread all throughout Botswana.  There are many ways you can help, and we welcome all support.  You can donate to shipments at  All donations are tax deductable.  You can also donate books.  To see all the ways you can help, and to see the results of our work in action, please visit:   We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog.

And we are back.  In all seriousness, this organization is fantastic.  I was able to get over 200 books for our library from them.  They are doing great work all over Botswana and if you are in a position to help them I know it would be greatly appreciated.  Here is what I was able to get from them.

These boxes had over 200 books between them.  So at this point I had some books to start with and some cabinets.  At this point, one of the teachers tell me they got a book donation from The Botswana Library Association in 2011.  But, they didn't know where to put them so they were just sitting in a teacher's storeroom for two years.  Well I quickly liberated those books to incorporate them into the library.

Now that I had all the parts, it was time to sort.  We had books that I put into 7 different categories: Stories and Novels, Learning to Read, Health, Science and Nature, Religion, Reference Books, and Teacher's Resources.  Also, I got some maps from Pam Shelton as well (See, another great reason to support her!!!), so I used those and some signs I made to decorate the walls and label the book sections.  After about a half day of sorting and putting things up on Wednesday we had a finished product.

As you can see we still have room for a ton more books.  I am planning to look around to see if I can find more, but it is at least nice to have some ready to go.  A few kids saw me setting it up yesterday and asked if they can take some.  School closed yesterday, and I wasn't done with the work, so I told them at the start of Term 2 they can.  Here is hoping it gets some use!

Monday, March 18, 2013

It's a strange strange world

Hey, you know what I haven’t done in a while?  Written a blog post.  Or a letter for that matter.  For all of those people who I was in fairly regular mail correspondence with, oops.  This lack has been totally my fault.  I dropped the ball on that one.  I plan to resume that soon. 

Well, anyway, I was trying to figure out what to write for a blog post, and I have had people tell me that they like my list style posts as some of my best.  So now I have a new list for you.  The 5 biggest WTF moments of the past couple months.  All of these have happened since I moved into my new place.  So while they may not be the strangest moments I have ever had here, they are the most recent.

5.  On one of my walks back into the village from doing some errands in Gabs I managed to get lucky and snag a ride.  In the back of the truck with me was the health education officer for the village.  She had gone grocery shopping that day too.  We dropped at the same spot and walked together for a bit since we live in the same area.  Well, she eventually got around to asking me why I was not at the Male Circumcision workshop the week before at the Kgotla.  Well, first of all, I try to avoid the Kgotla like the plague, not my favorite place to be.  I find it boring and tedious when I could be doing something much more useful.  But I probably would have gone to it for that workshop.  While I know about SMC from a bunch of Peace Corps stuff, it would have been nice to see what messages were getting out. 

The real reason I did not go was because I was not invited.  The health officer hosted the workshop and I told her that I was not invited to go.  She told me that she had dropped off the invitation at the school inviting the Guidance teacher, one other teacher, and myself.  Now, I did see her a little before the workshop drop something at the office, but when the announcement came from the school head, all she said was, “There is a workshop at the Kgotla on Monday and Mma Thupe (the Guidance Teacher) is going.”  No one inquired any further; it seemed like a done decision.  I did not even know until later what the workshop was.  When I explained this to the health officer, she still said I should have been there.  Somehow, it was my fault I missed it.  These kinds of things happen a lot and I know how to brush them off pretty well, but they still make me scratch my head for a little while.

4.  Those of us over here in Bots are aware that the weather is starting to cool off (at least in the mornings).  This is one of my favorite times of the year here-not summer.  But for some of my teachers this kind of weather has a different significance.  This is a conversation I was around, but thankfully not a part of between two teachers.

Teacher 1: Do you know what they call this weather?
Teacher 2: No, I don’t know.
Teacher 1: BMW.
Teacher 2: BMW?  Ah, why do they call it that?
Teacher 1: What does BMW mean?
Teacher 2 guesses: “Be My Wife?”
Teacher 1 laughs and asks me if I know what BMW means.  I am as confused as Teacher 2 is and shake my head.
Teacher 1: No, not be my wife, baby making weather.
I walk away, still confused by why that happened.

3.  So while my new house is far and away more posh than my old place, it is still missing a few things.  Namely, a front door that opens, and a gas tank for the stove.  The door is not a huge deal; I can just go in and out through the kitchen door.  But the gas tank has had me borrowing another teacher’s hotplate for the past 2 months.  Which does my school management think is the bigger problem?  The door of course.  When I say that I need gas they say I have they hotplate.  I say the hotplate is not mine, plus when the electricity is out, I cannot cook.  But when I say that the door does not matter because I can get in and out they say that “it is not healthy to only use the back door to get into your house.”  Once again, mystified, I ask why.  Answer: it just is not healthy.  Still mystified.

2.  I always have a hard time picking a winner for things like this.  I usually waver between something monumental or something that is perpetual.  In this case, I am going with the monumental, so the perpetual gets second.  All in all, this instance is not really that impressive, except for the fact that it happens to me at least twice a week it seems.  People asking where I am…when they are not there.  For example, this morning I got asked by a teacher why I did not see them yesterday.  I said I did not know.  I was at assembly like I am every morning and I was back in the afternoon for PACT club.  Usually everyone is supposed to be at assembly.  Then she said, “Ah, I was late yesterday.  But I needed to talk to you and I did not see you.”  I asked why she did not come see me at PACT club then.  “Ah, I had to go early.”  Huh?  How is this somehow my responsibility to divine when you want to talk to me?  But my absolute favorite is people saying they did not see me…when they were actually out almost all day and just came around 3pm to sign a log book at the school.  And yet somehow that happens so often to me…

1. This one actually happened to me the day after I wrote the first draft of this blog.  I had to alter my list and make this new occurrence number 1.  I was on an hour long combi ride, in the front seat area.  The conductor was two people away from me with a woman in between us.  Now, the conductor clearly wanted to get with this woman.  Also, they had never met before.  At the beginning he tries and arm around the shoulder.  After a few rebuffs the woman I guess decides “what the hell” and goes with it.  Within 10 minutes he is grabbing her boob.  Full-on, right in the front of the combi.  All the while I am stuck next to this.  Eventually things cool off for a minute when he starts to take money from everyone.  At this point the woman pulls out some lip gloss.  As she is putting it away the conductor takes it from her.  And puts some on.  Yeah.  And it gets weirder.

Finally my destination is in sight.  Just a couple more minutes and I will be off the combi.  And of course, the conductor picks this moment to go for broke.  He puts his hand up her skirt.  And she lets him!!!!  Right in front of everyone he is feeling up her skirt.  And she is just laughing.  At this point she is getting off the combi too, so what do the new lovers do?  Exchange names and phone numbers.  Yup, didn’t even know each other’s names till that point.  People are weird.

Finally, I just want to end with just a couple general updates.  For a week in early April I will be off to Mozambique to enjoy some time on the Indian Ocean.  As far as work goes, the school closes for a few weeks at the end of March.  I just host a training for the teachers on Infusion of the Life Skill books (basically my main purpose here) and we are supposed to be implementing them starting next term, so we will see how that goes.  And finally, in just two short months I will be back in the US for a few weeks.  I have a special game that everyone can play when I am back, details to come in another blog post.  J