January 30, Day 548
Jump out of bed and start boiling water for coffee. I make coffee every morning in a French press and keep all of my old coffee grounds. Every morning I walk outside and pour the old coffee grounds into a tire on the ground – that is basically holding up the backside of my house – and then use the grounds in my garden. They help to hold in moisture in the sand and provide acidity.
As I am standing outside in my pajamas emptying coffee grounds into the tire, I see Gilda running by the house. We make eye contact and she runs into the yard to say hello.
Gilda and I sit on the front porch and I give her lots of pets and she licks my face and then runs away to go back home.
Back inside, I take a cold shower and change into something decent for the day and then go outside to water the plants.
Today it’s coffee with oatmeal, cinnamon, cranberries and vanilla for breakfast.
Tonight I am teaching the media production class at the Brigade, so I pack up a big box with all of the materials I need for class. There’s no way I can carry this box, so I’ll see if someone can give me a ride later to pick up the box before class.
Strap on my backpack and start walking to the DAC office.
Soon, I hear a pickup slow down behind me. Either someone wants to harass me or offer me a ride. I’m hoping they want to give me a ride. The truck pulls up alongside me and I see there are two men inside with the window rolled down.
“Dumela, Mma. O tsogile jang?” one of the men asks me (Hello Ma’am, how are you this morning?).
Guess they just want to test me in setswana.
“Dumelang, Borra. Ke tsogile sentle,” I reply (Hello men, I am well this morning).
They roll up the window and drive off laughing.
Arrive at the DAC office and walk over to Chedza’s office to ask if I can borrow her laptop for class tonight. Turns out projectors only connect into PCs and I don’t have an adaptor for my MAC. So, every week I ask if I can borrow Chedza’s laptop. She is lovely and friendly and always lets me borrow it.
Walk back to the DAC office and sit with Bontle and Mabe. We are worried because the Valentine’s Dinner is coming up and it is up to Tebelopele to organize it. We invite the first 30 couples who test for HIV together to come to a catered dinner on Valentine’s Day and the testing takes time. To our knowledge, nothing has been done. I’ve checked with them, Mabe has checked with them and they are avoiding giving us an answer.
Now, there is no DAC to push things along and Catherine keeps telling us that it has to be done. I’ve been avoiding taking over as DAC because I know if I start to do the work, everyone will assume I am the acting DAC and then I won’t do what a Peace Corps volunteer is supposed to do and capacity build people.
Mabe and I decide to walk to Tebelopele and double ambush them to get an answer once and for all. Baitshepi says if I decide to take it away from Tebelopele, she will help me organize the Valentine’s Dinner and we can host it at BOCAIP. So, we have a backup plan, we just need an answer out of Tebelopele.
PEPFAR is a US organization that funds much of the HIV/AIDS work in Sub-Saharan Africa. This year, PEPFAR cut its funding for Botswana by 40% and that has hit many US sponsored NGOs hard, like Tebelopele. They have also redirected much of their focus from HIV testing to HIV treatment, and Tebelopele focuses on HIV testing. My guess is that perhaps behind the scenes they have been told to stand down in our village when it comes to HIV testing and refocus their efforts and that’s why they’re dodging our request, but I don’t know that for sure.
We walk over to Tebelopele and tell them we need to know answers. The woman there tells us that she doesn’t think they’ll be hosting it and to move forward, but that they’ll confirm later. Mabe and I decide to move forward with BOCAIP.
As we walk back to the office, Mabe asks where Olive is, and I tell him that he has been gone since November. I miss him dearly.
“You will like my dog, Rra Dijo. I will give him to you,” he says (Dijo means food. So, basically Mabe has named his dog Mr. Food).
“Really?! I remember Rra Dijo, he’s a good boy! I would be happy to take him. Can I give him back to you when I leave in October?” I ask.
“No problem. Whenever you want, I will take him back. I want to start a business breeding big dogs, so I think he will be better with you for now.”
“Great! I love Rra Dijo. Whenever you want to bring him to my house, I will take him,” I say.
We part ways and I decide that since I am teaching my class and won’t have time to make dinner, I will get lunch at Boise so that the huge servings can be both lunch and dinner. I walk over to Boise and get my favorite vegetarian specials.
Walk back to the DAC and print documents for tonight’s lesson plan. We don’t have a printer at BOCAIP, so every time we want to print something we have to walk the quarter of a mile to the DAC to print. I figure I should do it while I’m here.
My phone rings, and it’s Baitshepi. She says that Nops thought I’d be working at BOCAIP today and says he cannot attend class to help teach tonight, and dropped off his projector for me to borrow in his absence. Baitshepi says she has some shopping to do and will meet me at PEP.
Walk over to the PEP and grab the projector from Baitshepi. The elderly women out front are all in conversation when I walk by and I greet them when I walk back.
Back at the DAC office, Mabe and I decide that a meeting must be held to organize the Valentine’s dinner, so we plan a date and time and invite everyone to attend.
Call the Brigade to confirm that the classroom will be open tonight, but no one answers. Call again, no answer.
At 2 pm, Moemedi picks me up and takes me home to grab my box of things for class tonight, and then takes me to the Brigade. Bontle was right, this guy rocks.
Arrive at the Brigade and find the classroom locked. I find a staff member who unlocks the door for me.
Eish, this place is a mess!
I organize the room, move chairs, clean out the trash and stand on a tall chair to turn on the fan and try to cool it off before people arrive.
Students start to arrive and I teach them copyright rules, how to use social media and let them use the rest of the session to edit their videos for the final project. Watch an HIV movie and discuss the impact on the village.
Moemedi comes to pick me up at the Brigade, and I let a few of the ladies in class join us and give them a ride home.
At home, I change into comfortable clothes and go outside and keep digging that fourth permagarden. I’m determined to finish the garden.
Sit on the porch and watch the sun go down.
Go inside and watch “Grey’s Anatomy” for a bit. Eat sautéed cabbage, steamed carrots and popcorn for dinner.
Take a cold shower.
Head to bed.