Video Interview In The Dark

November 11, Day 468

Up and at ‘em. I’m back in town and determined to have a meeting at the Brigade today, and that means I need to be at work at a decent hour.


I’m out of eggs, so it’s oatmeal and coffee today.


I was gone for a measly three days and my herbs on the front porch are almost dead. Why is it that plants in nature can survive forest fires, storms and long droughts but then my house plants are all “Well, you forgot to water me yesterday, so I will die today.”?


Give them some love and water on the front porch.


Clean up my house. The living room looks so bright and beautiful today. Meditate and admire the fresh sunshine beaming in.


Walk to work. The sky is royal blue today with whispy clouds.


Arrive at work, and no one is there. That’s fine, I have lots to do today.


Bontle arrives. She is the new admin who replaced Mma Bimbo this month. Poor Catherine has been doing three jobs for the last few months while we waited to replace Mma Bimbo; she’s been doing the DAC, ADAC and admin position. Mma Bimbo got a fancy new fulltime permanent position at another government office. Good for her!


Bontle is completely silent and answers questions when I ask them, but I admit the silence is awkward. I decide that I’ll show her how to manage the database for our office with data. After all, someone has to take it over when I leave and Catherine is already so busy.


We are preparing for the DMSAC meeting tomorrow, which means all of our district data needs to be complete and accurate before we report it to the big boss tomorrow.  I go page by page and show Bontle how to enter the data and determine if it’s accurate.


I realize that the numbers for tuberculosis are still missing, so I call our M&E lady and she says she’ll email them to me. She says she’s home sick today and has to go to the internet café in order to send them to me (even though I know she has a computer at the clinic and lives right next door to the clinic and is also working today). Within 2 minutes she sends me data, but it’s completely different data than what I asked for.


Text her again and tell her it’s incorrect. She then finds a way to magically send the right data to me.


Lunch time. Eat my salad while sitting in the office. Bontle has a banana.


Just before 2 pm, Nops comes to the office for our scheduled meeting at the Brigade. I tell him I’ve been calling them all day and no one is answering. We call again, and this time I speak to a woman who says I can just show up and meet with them.


Nops and I walk over to his car and he drives us to the Brigade.


A bunch of guys are sitting at the picnic table by the entrance of the Brigade. Mr. Lebokeng is there and takes us to the office of the headmaster. His office is in a trailer next to the Brigade building and has FANTASTIC air conditioning.


I realize at this moment that the woman I spoke to on the phone was in fact NOT a woman. It was the headmaster, who is a man! He just had a high voice. I immediately feel extremely guilty for saying things like “Yes, ma’am” and “Thank you, Mma” on the phone.


My only saving grace is that often I hear Batswana mix up male and female pronouns when they speak English. In Setswana, you just say “o” to refer to he or she or you. There is no male and female unless you’re saying “mma” or “rra”. As a result, most people say he or she incorrectly in english because they just haven’t had to use gender specific language much.


Hence, it is often acceptable to mix up “he” or “she” in language. I’m hoping the headmaster was okay with it.


He is very friendly, and also new, so he wasn’t there last time we presented our idea about the media club. Nops and I do our presentation, and the headmaster gives us his approval for us to start our class on Thursday.


BUT, he says that they cannot give us any students for the class because everyone is taking final exams right now and busy.


It’s Monday. That means we need to find 10-15 students by Thursday. Game on.


Nops and I drive back to my office, and I decide to walk next door to MYSC (Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture). I knock on the door of Mma Gaotilwe, and sit down and pitch my idea about the media club.

I see her eyes light up. She loves it! She agrees to give me a list of unemployed youth in the village who are interested in media production for my class. We also agree that we will roll this program out to all of the local libraries in the district, since they have computers.


Success! She also wants to pitch the idea to the leadership at her workshop in Gaborone this week. So, I agree to email her the class outline and lesson plans.


Go back to work and finish up for the day. Catherine is there and has some information for me to review before our meeting tomorrow. She tells me her mother isn’t feeling well. Usually her mother only complains when it’s something serious.


We brainstorm on what it could be? She tells me her mother has a headache and is feeling weak. So, I give her a bottle of electrolytes to give to her because I know this heat can be bad.


Goaba is coming to my house tonight because she has been invited to do a video interview for an international exchange program in the US. We are going to use my WiFi to send the video.


Ride home.


Goaba arrives around 5:30 and looks beautiful. She’s camera ready!


I rush us to start filming around 6:30 before the sun sets. The lighting in my living room is terrible, so I want to avoid having to rely on it.


We first start the interviews using her laptop. But, when she films the answer to her question and we go to submit it, we discover the laptop won’t submit the question.


Okay. We have to start over with Plan B.


I download the app for the video program onto my phone, and then prop it up on my tripod selfie stick. Boom!


We work into the night. I’m so impressed with her camera presence! For each question, we practice the answer together, then I press play and hold up her phone as a flashlight on her face so the lighting looks better. We prop up cue cards above the phone to give her talking points for each question.


By 10 pm, we submit the last question. Finished!

We are both tired and hungry. She goes home.


Head to bed.



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