Thursday, April 21, 2011

Apples and Tigers and Rhino's, OH MY!

This week, I went to complete the mural at the Little Friends Center in Serowe that I started in January. The Little Friends Centre is an all-community run preschool for OVC children (cutest children in the world.)

They just recently built a brand new classroom made completely out of donated materials and labor. I thought the effort was completely amazing, especially considering how difficult it has been for me to mobilize my community to do anything-- but the situations are completely different. One is a relatively well-off community, the village where the first Botswana President (and current Botswana President lives) and the other is a San resettlement where 99% of the villagers are on welfare (I exaggerate, I'm not sure the exact percentage). There is no comparing the two.

You may remember the little Tigger from above, but what you would not recognize are the little flowers below, flowers that the kids put on themselves with their adorable little hands. This is the brain child of Patti Koenig, the PCV who works in this village. Patti is a wonderful lady who I am very sad to report is leaving us for the States for 2 hip surgeries. This is her last week in Botswana and I'm going to miss her very much.

After we finished the wall, Patti took us to the Rhino Sanctuary for a short game drove during which we saw: Rhinos, Zebras, Eland, Dukers, Impala, Springbok, Wildebeasts, and plenty of small and large birds. I couldn't believe that in 2 hours on this game drive, I saw more animals and got closer to these animals than I did in 8 cumulative days in the CKGR.

Right now, I'm sitting in a backpackers camp in Maun enjoying a cup of (free) instant coffee and a bacon egg breakfast sandwhich, listening to a little Bob Marley and watching the travelers around me from all over the world lounge around with nothing to do. Backpackers are incredibly interesting places to spend your time. There are people from everywhere here doing the most fascinating things.

The reason why I decided to come here for the Easter Weekend is actually kind of funny. Coming from Serowe, I had to pass through Maun to go home. This week, all the government workers in Botswana are on strike. They are demanding a raise on their salaries, they report that they have not received a raise in 5 years even though the price of living has gone up, and though the government is willing to give them 2% (? i thought it might be 6%, not sure), they want 16%. So they are striking for the first time in Botswana history. No teachers in the classrooms, no drivers at the clinics, or nurses in the area, or men manning the border posts (well not totally no, just a few people, for minimal efficiency).

As a Peace Corps volunteer, I am not supposed to get involved and I'm actually rather glad. I don't know how I feel about the strike. All I know is without public transportation to New Xade I won't have a ride home for a few days and that masses of government workers with big signs dancing down the street and chanting and singing is really cool to see. They look so happy. My friend the teacher says she's enjoying herself in New Xade, relaxing without work to do. I can't imagine a picket line in New Xade, no one important would be around to watch!

I miss you all so much. Lately I've been missing home a lot and feeling very moody because of it. I hope you are all ok, have a wonderful Easter.

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