Hello, everyone! I have arrived in Kayne, Botswana and have officially moved in with my host family. I will be living here in Kayne for the next two months (until June 7th). So far, my host family has been amazing. My host mother gave me a new Setswana name: Rapula (man of rain). Batswana consider pula (rain and money) to be very good luck. It rained our first day here so that made me feel really good!
Along with my host mother, I have a sister, Phando (she’s in her thirties), two nephews, Lentswe and Rokomoso (seventeen and sixteen), and a three-year-old niece named Boleng (we call her “Dudu”). Phando has really been taking care of me and making me feel at home. Lentswe speaks really good English and eager to teach so he’s been a major help! We’ve had some really good talks and we’re already becoming close. Rokomoso is more shy and reserved but he seems to be coming around. And Dudu is adorable and full of energy. Overall, they have all been extremely welcoming. In fact, everyone that I have met in the village has been extremely friendly and very happy to see us!
I live in a modest home. There is no running water in the house but we do have a tap on our property. We fill jugs every night and store our water in the kitchen. Cooking and cleaning are something of a chore, but they seem to manage with ease. I am learning. The electricity is pretty steady. There is no plumbing – we have a pit latrine/outhouse. Bathing is done with a bucket and a plastic tub that I keep in my room. Its amazing how little water you actually need to bath. Phando requires that I bathe every night and was really taken aback when I explained that I typically only bathe once a day. She also likes me to be in bed before ten o’ clock – seeing that I wake with the roosters in my backyard, I don’t argue with the early bedtime.
The food has been alright, but if there is one thing that I’m really missing, its Goo’s cooking. I didn’t realize how much I took simple food items for granted and the ease with which we Americans can obtain the food that we enjoy. In fact, the thing that has surprised me the most thus far is how dependent I have been on “convenience” in every aspect of my life. Its not that I wasn’t aware of my dependency, its just that I wasn’t aware how dependent I actually was! Convenience and accessibility have become so commonplace in our culture that we operate without giving them a second thought.
But all is relative. Batswana have their conveniences just as Americans do. When I walk down the road and am greeted with warmth and enthusiasm by everyone I meet, it is a great reminder that accessibility is no substitute for long walks, friendly encounters, and plenty of laughter between people who can barely understand one another.
I’ve only been here about a week. I feel like I’ve been gone much longer. I’ve certainly been welcomed and I’m quickly becoming adjusted. Our schedule right now is essentially comprised of Setswana lessons, cultural sessions and HIV/AIDS education. We’re really busy and usually exhausted by the end of each day. Many things are challenging and I only expect that most of them will become more so. But in the meantime, I’m going to enjoy the slow-passing time, the discussions with Lentswe, the playtime with Dudu and the hilarious stories from my fellow volunteers/trainees.
I will try and write again once we’ve become settled into our training routine. The entire experience has been overwhelming thus far. I’m sure things will develop quickly, opinions will change and emotions will be thinly separated. I will keep you all posted as it happens.
Hope everything is going well at home. Miss you all! Peace!