Welcome To Your New Home, Rra Dijo

February 7, Day 556

I wake up to hear a car door slam outside of my house. Look out the window and see Mabe in front of the house and a dog climbing out of his car.

It’s Rra Dijo!

Rra Dijo literally translates to “Mr. Food”. Mabe is known for loving dogs and always gives them funny names. He literally has dogs named Facebook, WhatsApp and Speed Radar, so I’m not surprised he has a dog named after food.

Dijo is the sweetest dog that has ever existed on the planet. Every time I go to Mabe’s house Dijo is there, terrified to come near me because he’s been probably hit or kicked by humans, but I see a spark in his eyes that he is a real sweetheart and wouldn’t hurt a fly.

Mabe has taken an electrical wire and wrapped it around a collar that attaches to Rra Dijo and is using that as a leash for him. Rra Dijo seems very happy and clearly loves Mabe.

Mabe hands me the dog, and then drives away. At first, Rra Dijo whimpers and is sad that Mabe is gone. I pick him up and tell him he is loved and bring him inside.

Rra Dijo stares at me. I stare at Rra Dijo. What can I do? We’ll just have to get used to one another.

There’s no way I can have a brand new dog in my house and abandon him to go to work right away, so I decide to go to work late today so that we can get used to one another. After a few minutes, Dijo curls up on the floor and rests his head against my coffee table and passes out.

I once went to Mabe’s house and it was pouring rain outside. Dijo really wanted to go inside, but in Botswana, most dogs do not go inside. He kept sneaking into the living room whenever no one was looking and then I’d see him sneaking behind the front door. Mabe’s  5-year old son found Dijo and kicked him and told him to go outside, and he went back outside. Then the dog snuck back in a few minutes later. I hope he wasn’t kicked too many times in his life. He is a good dog.

Dijo wakes up and we play and relax for about two hours. Catherine calls and asks me to come over. If I leave Dijo in the yard someone will definitely steal him, or he will start running the neighborhood the way Olive did. So, I leave him in the house with the windows open and the fan blasting and plenty of water.

Walk over to Catherine’s house. She said that a woman from the Ministry of Health called to ask why no one has planned activities for Month of Youth Against AIDS (MYAA).

MYAA happens every March, and our office usually partners with the Ministry of Youth and the hospital to plan HIV/AIDS activities through out the month of March. I was worried that nothing was planned back in January and called the hospital. They told me the Ministry of Education was in charge of MYAA this year, so I called our friend over in education. She told me that they never received funding or follow-up from the Ministry of Health, so nothing was planned. I assumed that was the end of it.

Apparently we have two weeks to plan several activities and the Ministry of Health asked Catherine to step in and take all of the funding and plan the activities since nothing was done with other departments.

“I told her that I am on maternity leave and we don’t have a DAC office right now, but that I have a Peace Corps volunteer who has a lot of ideas and that we should just fund whatever the volunteer wants to do for MYAA,” Catherine says. “She wants to give us 50,000 pula. Can you handle this?”

OH. MY. GOSH. WHAT?!

Usually Peace Corps volunteers are taught how to create programs with no funding and not to expect it. Yet, here I am being told that they will fund whatever I want if I come up with the idea and execute.

“Yes, I will gladly help!” I say.

Catherine and I sit down and create a checklist of things that need to be done and make a list of possible events that we could fund.

Walk home and check on Rra Dijo. He’s fine.

Pack up my bicycle and ride to the office. No one is there and Bontle is out sick today. I work on a plan for MYAA and plan for the Valentine’s dinner that is coming up.

Walk to the store and buy dog food and veggies for the weekend. Baitshepi calls and says she is planning to come to my house at 5:30 am tomorrow morning to help me pull the weeds in my yard.

WHAT?!! 

“Did you say 5:30 am? That is very early!” I tell her.

“Yes! I like to get up early in the morning. This way we can get a lot of work done before it gets hot for the day,” she says.

Catherine calls and asks me to bring her a file from the office. I agree to ride my bike to her house and drop it off. I go outside and get my bike and bring it to the office door and then try to strap the heavy binders to the back of my bike but it falls over.

GRRRR I AM SO STRESSED OUT. THIS IS NOT THE TIME FOR MY BIKE TO ACT UP.

I pull it up just as two women from the office walks by. One woman offers to hold the bike while I strap the binders to the back of it. The other woman sees I’m a foreigner and assumes I don’t know any Setswana and decides to give me a Setswana lesson.

I know it’s from a good place, but I have no patience to be told I don’t speak Setswana well enough in this moment.

I thank her and lock the door and walk away before I get lectured about Setswana anymore.

Ride to Catherine’s house and sit outside and pet Dawgie for a little bit. Chat for a little bit and then Freddie joins us.

Ride home to check on Rra Dijo, and he’s okay. I decide that we will walk to Mokala together and give him a nice, long walk.

He’s a great little walker and has no problem with being on a leash. I bring a water dish and a big bottle of water for him in my backpack. It’s so hot that I think the sand is burning his toes, so he runs from one shady spot to another along the road but does a great job.

Dijo is a brindle and is basically what people in Botswana call a Tswana dog. They’re usually skinny and have the same stripes. Usually Tswana dogs run around loose searching for food and aren’t domesticated the way Rra Dijo is. I notice that many people beep at me as they drive by because they think it is hilarious that I have a Tswana dog on a leash.

“Dumela, Mma. What are you doing with a dog like that?!” one woman asks me from her car window.

“This is Rra Dijo. I am taking care of him for a friend,” I reply.

“Do you know what to do with a dog like that?! That is a tswana dog!” she says, laughing as she drives away. I wave to her and keep walking.

Tie up Dijo outside when we arrive at Sefalana and I run inside to grab a few things. Nothing ever happens fast at Sefalana, though, so I notice that Dijo gets extremely anxious that I’m not there and barks as if he’s being tortured outside of the store.

HURRY UP, I NEED TO GO GET THAT BARKING DOG! I think to myself in line.

We walk over to Mokala and I see they have mozzarella cheese today. Woo hoo! This is the only store in the whole village that sometimes has mozzarella. I tie up Dijo again, and again he barks as if he’s being tortured in front of the store.

Thomas is working at Mokala today and asks about the dog. I tell him I’ve got a new dog, named Rra Dijo, and he has a good laugh. He offers us a ride home.


I climb into Thomas’s truck and Rra Dijo happily jumps in and lays down at my feet. Thomas drops me off at home, and I thank him.

As I enter the yard, I see my neighbor Besego approach me.

“Dumela, Mpho. May I borrow your spade?” she asks.


I go inside and get my shovel and hand it to her. She says she’ll have her daughter come and drop it off once they’re done later. Cool.

Leave Dijo to wander the yard while I work in the garden for a while. The light bulb in my living room went out a few weeks ago and I’ve been sitting in the dark, so I pull up my coffee table and stand on my tippy toes to change the light bulb. It makes a world of difference!

The neighbor comes back and returns the shovel and asks to borrow it again tomorrow. I tell her that if I’m gone tomorrow I will leave it in the backyard for her and she is welcome to take it from the side of the house.

The power goes out.

I close the doors and windows to keep the bugs out and light candles while chatting with my friend Kesh via text.


Just then, a terrible storm rolls in. The wind blows, the rain pours.

Calviniah calls and asks if I want to go walking with her tonight. I tell her I’ll go next time because there’s a bad storm outside.

Watch a movie and eat dinner by candlelight. Rra Dijo has refused to leave the area of the door all day long, so I put a blanket for him to sleep on on the floor.

Soon the laptop battery dies, so I decide to go to bed. I go into the bedroom, but Dijo won’t come into the bedroom. He stands at the door looking nervous.

I move his blanket into the living room by the couch. He lays down.

I turn off the lights and go to bed.

Soon, I hear him at the door of the bedroom barking. He doesn’t want me to leave him. I coax him into the bedroom with pieces of bread as treats. I figure a dog named after food is probably very food motivated.

He comes into the bedroom and I move his blanket next to my bed. We fall asleep, me in my bed and Dijo next to the bed.

Boroko

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