Saturday, 7 July 2012

Week 11

Monday was our last full day in Kang :-( so we made final preparations with TXY for the meeting on Tuesday then had our last ever Kang’s Kitchen lunch. For the record Kang’s Kitchen does the best fat cakes and soup and just general lunch ever so we ate there every day. 
Tuesday was the meeting .........
The Kang VDC and S&DC came aswell as the Hukuntsi S&DC and some social workers aswell as Skillshare representatives and TXY. Basically, the meeting re-discussed everything the four of us had been discussing with the Kang VDC for the past 12 weeks only with more witnesses. However, not to put a downer on it, hopefully the fact that there was more witnesses and more official people present the things promised will be fulfilled and TXY can be a fully registered school within the next few months - which would be fabulous! After the meeting me and Esther got the bus back to Gabs and bumped into Rodgers, one of the teacher from Matsha. I have to say it was the funniest drive ever! The driver left behind the bus conductor and we had to wait about a half hour for him to catch up on foot. It was lovely to see the Maun volunteers again, especially David as I hadn’t seen him for 12 weeks! We got back to the guest house and me and Neel went out to buy some Vin CoCo and Twiser (the best drink in Botswana!) - basically we spent every night of de-brief drinking Vin CoCo and playing card based drinking games, it was fab.
Wednesday and Thursday were just boring debrief where we had to share our experiences with each other and its clear everyone did so many amazing things whilst we have been on placement. 
Friday me, Neel and Callum got up at half 3 in the morning so that we could climb Kgali Hill - the highest natural hill thing in Botswana! It was proper sketchy at first as it was dark and all we had to light the way was cowpig and Neel’s torch so it was pitch black and we were basically climbing a mountain :-S We stopped half way up for a cup of green tea and watched the stars, there were so many shooting stars and Gabs looked so beautiful from all the way up - it has to be the smallest capital city in the world?! We got to the top about an hour before sunrise and at first we were so excited to have gotten there - so we had another green tea. But after like an hour it was foofing chilly!!!! However it was way worth it. Sun rise was amazing and the view was phenomenal. On the way back down we found an actual path - we had scaled the side of the mountain literally climbing over rocks (epic fail!). The army were running up and down doing drills so we followed them for a bit but got distracted by a pretty view and got left behind. After getting lost for an age we finally found the bottom and sat watching Baboon’s for ages, there was really cute baby ones bouncing around all over the place and one hefty male who waltzed past us and actually posed for a picture! In the afternoon (well actually it was 10am but it felt like mid afternoon for us) we went to Otse to an amazing school for disabled children which also has its own businesses - pottery making, candle making, crop growing, orangery (which makes the best oranges ever - we may have acquired a few for tasting purposes) and loads of other things. A man showed us how to make a bowl out of pottery. He was so skilled and wipped up this bowl like it was cutting up an onion (which incidentally I have great difficulty with being incapable at almost any cooking based tasks!) but he was super speedy and made it look easy. We had the most amazing lunch in the whole time of Botswana at Otse - and then had some pretty emotional speeches from Rob, Wairimu and BK as it was Robs last day in Botswana today. There was such drama on Friday aswell ..... Callum got told that he needed to get a visa stamp in his new passport otherwise he would be arrested as it looked like he had been in Botswana illegally :-O so with about 15 minuets to spare before the immigration office shut we had to speed through Gabs so he wouldn’t go to jail. To cut a long, dramatic and at times harrowing journey down to a few words .... we missed the office!! But thanks to our sweet innocent English faces and some man taking pity on Callum’s sob story he got a stamp so didn’t have to stay in Botswana forever as an illegal immigrant!  That evening we made fire, which took about an hour just to take as the wood is nay as good as in Kang! David and Kesh (who had finally graced us with his presence after hiding away in Maun for an extra two days) cooked us some lovely food and we all sat around the fire eating and drinking ---- of course Vin CoCo; what else!
Saturday was our last full day in Botswana :-( so it was today that most people set aside to buy presents for people at home! It was just a stressful shopping trip trying to find something for my Dad who had demanded a present for his birthday, one for father’s day and a general African present - after spending ages looking a bought him a musical instrument plingy thing which I regretted about 5 seconds after giving it to him as all I have heard for the past few days is ‘pling pling pling’ from him playing it!! I spent the afternoon trying to cram everything into my suitcase without it popping/ without breaking all my presents. To mix it up a little me and David got cider this eve - turns out lemon cider is peculiar! We decided to have a light night as we had to be up early in the morn for our flights.
Sunday was so emotional. We left the guesthouse at 9ish to go to the airport. After arriving late and the plane being delayed in our honor it had to be delayed even more because me Callum and Kesh’s passport got voided and they couldn’t get our boarding passes. Never before had I been so scared that I was going to be stranded in Botswana! After what felt like forever the airpeople gave up and wrote us handwritten boarding passes (lol) and just let us through. They had to ring ahead to Nairobi to let them know we had ticket qualms so they could sort it for us, then we got on the plane. I no this will make me sound like such an epic fatty but the plane food was amazing! We also saw Kilimanjaro through the window - it was on the other side of the plane to us but a kind Indian man let me basically straddle him trying to get a good look and a picture. We then had a 8 hour wait at Nairobi airport. After sorting out our boarding cards .... Kenya was able to give us actual ones and thankfully our passports were unvoided (PHEW!) we went for food. I had my first proper coffee in three months - to be fair it wasn’t the delight that I had built it up to be :-( Nairobi was fun - Callum accidentally stole, we drank a litre of vodka, I flew up the escalator with Emma pretending to be superman, we tried to play in the kids playroom but some selfish children were already in there - to be 100% honest I can’t really remember that much more as I woke up to sunrise about 2 hours away from England! Apparently I was fair rowdy but being the shy and retiring person that I am I cannot imagine that at all :P
We got back to England early monday morning and said goodbye. It was so emotional and sad to leave everyone. So now I am back home in chilly willy England, wishing I could be back out in Botswana. I have been in and out of my old school this week sorting out some History teaching resources to send out to Matsha to help my form 5 classes - hopefully its stuff they will be able to keep and use for later years aswell. I definitely want to go back out to Botswana as soon as I can afford it! I’ve already been making plans and hassling people for money and sponsorship so watch this space! I am going to continue this blog now I’m back so I can keep you all posted on how my fundraising is going. I am hoping to climb Kilimanjaro to raise money for the organisation run by BK and Wairimu back in Botswana and to continue sending stuff out to Matsha. So if anyone knows of anything about climbing Kili then please let me know!

Week 10

This was our last full week in Kang so was a week of tying up loose ends and saying some very emotional goodbyes! We were drastically trying to sort out things for a meeting and inspection at TXY. The first half of the week was spent stalking people from the Brigade to sort out some kitchen shelves..... we had arranged with them to come almost everyday for the past 3 weeks and everyday they came up with some stupid excuse. So on Thursday we basically cried in Malatsa’s office then frogmarched him and Baruti to TXY and watched them put up the shelves. 
Wednesday we all had to get up super early to be at Motaung by half 7 for an assembly where we would say bye to the kids. It was all fine until Emmanuel told us how much he was going to miss us then we all shed a small tear. On Thursday we had a children's tea party planned at TXY so we could say goodbye to the kids there. It was so much fun, We made English style party food like sandwiches, crisps and fatty treats then attempted to get them to play pass the parcel..... they were so rubbish Patty ended up pretending to pass it from each child, opening it for them then just giving them the sweets! However, once we got into musical statues and musical bumps everything got competitive and Massi got so into it she ended up beating a small 4 year old girl! Thursday was also our leaving party from Kang - one of the teachers from Motaung is an actual DJ so as our leaving present he set up all his DJ equipment on our porch and provided the music. We actually had a DJ on our porch at our party it was epic! 
Friday we all turned up to TXY a little worse for wear - Massi included, and started sorting the finance reports from 2011/2012 which was such a ball ache and basically took all weekend.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Week 9

Monday we were in Gab’s for meetings sorting out our ideas and applying for our partner costs. Partner costs is the money we get from Skilllshare that goes to the organisation we work for; in our case for TXY. We had to propose our ideas then say how much we wanted then see if it was viable. Patty and Massi had said how much they needed stationary for the school and gave us a list of the things they needed most. TXY has about 5 pencils that are about a few centimeters long, 1 small piece of rubber and a sharpener that doesn’t work. So off we went into Gabs to compare prices for various items and try and blag some discount. We had to wait until Tuesday to go buy everything as the banks were closed so we couldn’t cash our checks. Tuesday morning we went to the bank and got 1500pula cash ..... I felt so rich with this big wad of money however its only about £140! We went back to buy all the stationary we had sorted from the day before then Wairimu took us shopping for warm clothes as all of a sudden it has gotten freezing! I know its Africa and it’s meant to be hot but seriously its nippy! I found some leggins for 15 pula and they looked passable so I got them..... however when I tried them on at home they are horrific! They are shiny grey with stirrups and do not even cover my arse, I spent the whole of Wednesday flashing my arse to the whole of Kang, pulling them up every 2 steps!
Wednesday at TXY me and Esther went shopping for the materials needed for the kitchen shelves and some paint to finish the sick bay. So next week if the Brigade fail us again were getting on DIY and fixing shelves then attempting to be artistic and paint a sea scape on the floor. In the evening we went to this guy called Aslan’s farm for brai (BBQ). He has a trophy head of a Gemsbok on his living room wall so we all posed for photo’s with it then he wipped out his gun. The delight on Faye Tray’s face when he offered it to her for a photo was hilarious..... let me say that we all make fetching hunters! We chilled around the fire and ate food. The stars and sky are so amazing out here, you can see all the galaxy’s and tonnes of stars. Me and Faye saw a shooting star on our way to the toilet! We’ve become such geeks just stargazing every night but you can’t imagine how beautiful it is until you have seen it yourself!
Thursday we had a meeting with the VDC to give in the report about the past TXY pupils and how they have progressed through the local primary schools. Hopefully we will be meeting them early next week to formalize a contract between them and TXY for future support for the school. We helped in lessons again today, maths and english. Esther gave Massi a yogurt that she didn’t want and all the kids lined up so that they could have a taste of it. TXY can’t afford to feed the students everyday so on these days the kids that can afford it bring their own food; the “rich ones” as Patty described them. Its easy to tell on days like these which are the Basarwa children (who get schooling for free as they are traditionally hunter-gatherers and bushmen who don’t go to school, so education is offered to them through TXY for free to encourage them to go to school) and the children who pay to go (just normal Kang residents). Two little Basarwa kids sat either side of one girl and every time she looked away stole a handful of her food. We sat with the kids while they ate their lunch in the playground and I was surprised by how they shared everything so the kids who didn’t have anything to eat still ate. 
Friday we did the regular stuff at TXY. On the way home from work we saw men slaughtering goats for the funeral of one of our neighbours on the Saturday. Emma went over and offered to help skin the head, it was fairly disgusting and I was swiney because on thursday a chicken coughed at me at TXY so left her and went home with Faye. About half an hour later Emma walked through the door with goat balls in her hand and went “if I cook them will you eat them with me?”! She came back about 15 minuets later with these goat balls on a plate...... we all tried a bit. For future reference goat ball tastes like tough chicken and the middle bit like boiled egg yolk! In the evening we went back to Abraham’s game reserve again. We toasted marshmallows on the fire and made schmores. Then went jackal hunting with Stefan and Christy, unfortunately we didn’t catch anything because I was in charge of the gun and was to busy staring at the jackal to pass the gun :S however I did look down the barrel of a gun at an African Wild Cat.  We saw the cutest baby Springbok just walking down a track .... it beast Bambi hands down! Again me and Faye Tray were massive geeks and star gazed .... we saw so many shooting stars! There is nothing like sitting in the middle of the Kalahari desert on a jackal hunt watching shooting stars, I will definitely never forget tonight.
On Saturday Christy woke us all up with tea and biscuits in bed. We then went to the cattle post to catch the horses so we could go on a horse ride around the farm.  It was fairly sketchy at first as I’ve not ridden a horse for years but as soon as I was sure the horse wasn’t going to throw me off or gallop away it was actually really fun. We trotted along with the dogs and watched an Eagle hunting. The farm has some camels; one of which is tame and called Lulu. When Faye and Christy went on their ride first me and Emma pretty much crept up on the camels trying to get good pictures - we were scared it was going to attack us or something then as it walked towards us ran and jumped over the fence to safety and hid. Then Christy got back, hopped off her horse and sat on its back; we had no idea it was tame until then..... our explorer style video we made about the savage camel isn't so cool anymore! Lulu the camel was such a joker and helped us get some hilarious camel based pictures. We sat on her, made her wear a hat and then she spat in my face and started to lean on me, then gave Faye a hug. Seeing as England were playing South Africa at Rugby (and the guys are South African originally) we went on a game drive in the afternoon. This time we saw ground squirrels, loads of eagles, springbok, jackals, bat eared foxes, wilderbeast and some gemsboks. I also caught a poacher! I made Christy stop the truck as me and Faye had spied something, we stopped and I wipped out the binoculars, saw it was man and went “oh its just a person” really disappointed that it wasn’t anything exciting. Christy was like “WHAT!!!” so we radioed in then had to speed back to the house. Me and Faye were like little detectives after that as we found the footprints in the sand and followed them. Unfortunately I don’t yet know what happened with the whole poacher as we had to go home that evening but I will keep you posted! Neal, the most hilarious man in the world, who lives at the game park made us Blue Wilderbeast horn napkin holders so hopefully I will be able to sneak them through customs.
Sunday we were woken up about 8am by rowdy boys knocking on the windows trying to wake us up! They all had these home made guns so we were hiding inside scared we were going to get shot at! There was one little boy sat on his own outside and after like an hour of watching him being like “have you seen the spike on the end of the gun!” and stuff Emma went to talk to him. It turns out the guns don’t actually fire so we were safe and just being dramatic. Him and his Dad made the guns and he gave some to his friends who took them then said they didn’t want to play with him so Emma invited him in and sat drawing with him for a bit. He was the sweetest kid ever, we went into the lounge and he went to put something in the bin then we heard him sweeping the kitchen floor, he said it was to say thank you for the sweets and drinks! In the evening we went to Gitu’s house as him and his wife made us an Asian feast :) It was amazing!!!!

Week 8

Adele had bus qualms again today ..... we missed the first one, then as she went to get on the second bus she cut her finger open and had to get off! So she came to Motaung with us. There was no lessons today so we went with Mr T to help out with tea break and showed Adele round. It was good to let someone else see our placement and introduce them to some of the kids we have worked with, it made me appreciate it more knowing that she had seen it. The most disstressing moment I’ve had in Botswana happened today aswell.... we dropped Adele at the bus stop then got the bus back into town. The conducter man asked me how I was so I was like “oh wonderful thanks, how are you?” and we said “I am ill becasue I saw you!” :O.... its safe to say I will be making more effort when I go out now.
Tuesday I had my history lessons at Matsha again. This week was on Versialles and WW1 peace treaties..... a blatent hoot and a half. Wednesday we went to TXY and helped with maths lessons and english lessons then I cought the bus to Gabs so I could meet the Queen. 
Thursday was the party at the British High Commissioners house for the good old Liz’s birthday and jubilee in one. I went shopping with Callum in the morning so he could attempt to buy shoes for his massive feet but seeing as all the men in Botswana are dwarfy he had to squeeze into a size 10 .... It was so swanky, the food was amazing and we met some pretty important people but the best bit was the free pims! Sadly, Liz couldn’t come which was a shame but it was still amazing and has helped me decide that I will dedicate my life to becoming a socialite extrodinaire and just go to rich peoples parties all the time.
On Friday I went back to Kang with Adele and Nikita. We got the 6am bus, it was horrible, I fell asleep and a small child apparently spent the whole journey wacking me on the head with a bottle .... the little beast! Nikita was in Kang this time last year and has come back to Botswana for a month so came to visit friends. Its been cool going around Kang with someone who knows it just as well as the four of us. Friday night we went searching round the back of the house for fire wood and came back with a few bits of tree.... however Reggie sorted us out so the “fire fairy” Adele was on it like a tramp on a sandwich with her duties once again. We had a fire and drinks and music and just chilled. I will miss fire so much back home, I’m planning on building a fire pit in my Dad’s garden.
Saturday we all got semi-hungover brunch at Kang’s Kitchen - fat cakes and soup = the best hangover cure ever! There was a talent show on at Matsha so we headed down to check it out, it was meant to start at 10am, we rocked up at 1 and it still hadn’t started, it ended up starting about half 4 .... The Botswanan’s are down with time keeping! Despite the hefty wait the talent show was actually really good and the kids of Kang are epic dancers. It was a small piece like African big fat gypsie wedding at some points :S
On Sunday Massimonyani from TXY came round for tea with her son Joseph and Gabelo (Patty’s son). We had tea and biscuits like proper elderly women but it was really good hanging out with Massi outside work. Today was a sad day as we had to give our puppies Biggy and Nala back to Simon as we had to go to Gabs for meetings and didn’t know how long it would take! After the distressing farewell to the dogs we got the bus back to Gabs. I got my third KFC in a week and the staff remembered me! One lady actually came out from the back to say Hi to me ....... I think I need to start being less of a fatty and avoid KFC in future!

Week 7

Monday was my 18th birthday ... again :). We were still at Abraham’s game park. These guys call it a farm but the African definition of farm is somewhat different to the British one. Me and Faye had shared a room and woke up soooooo cold it was as if we were in the Arctic tundra not the African desert! So we slithered out of bed and built up the courage to get dressed then shivered over to get coffee! Christy had made me the most beautiful necklace for my birthday so I had something to remind me of where I spent my birthday. Then everyone sang happy birthday around the table at breakfast. Unfortunately we had to leave early so we could get back for work so we headed back to Kang. Abraham drove us the long way out to see if we could see anymore animals; we saw some Ostriches with babies strolling along then saw Zebra and Wilderbeast charging across the pan - it was amazing and the type of thing you expect David Attenbourough to be narrating. 
Tuesday we had to wait home for the plumber as our bath gives us electric shocks so today was fair boring. In the evening we decided to go to Kings and Queens one of the bars in Kang for a drink for my birthday. It was such fun! We put Uptown Girl by Westlife on the jukebox on repeat to harass Faye Tray as its her favorite song ...... it’s not, but its hilarious when you dance like no-one is watching (LOL). It is definitely the song of Botswana!
Wednesday we were at Motaung making plans with Mr T for Motaung’s Got Talent. We put up all the posters around the school only to find them pulled down the next day - after repeating the process for about a week with the same results we gave up on the talent show as the school was being douschy about it!
Thursday and Friday were mid placement reviews which we’re not allowed to talk about as they are confidential but it was all good as we weren't sent home :)
On the Friday Kenny, Neel, Callum, and Adele came down for my party. We got back from reviews early so just spent Friday playing in the sun in the garden. Neel was such a drunken mess! I beat everyone at centurion :D Saturday we went to the Salt pan and took some hilarious pictures and then got lost in the bush on the way back home. Saturday night was my party of which I can remember little other than that tonight I beat Neel at centurion but lost to Callum :(.... apart from that all I remember is waking up on Sunday to Adele downing a can of black label, the classy sophisticated woman that she is! Sunday everyone went home but Adele who had bus qualms so we went back to the salt pan to sunbathe then just monged out at home and went to bed about half 8 because we are so hardcore!

Week 6

This week was pretty standard in terms of placement, just taught guidance and counseling lessons at Motaung on Monday then school was cancelled Tuesday due to exams so we spent the day making plans. We finally got our next allowance a week late and I went straight to the Meat Market and bought 17 Black Cats (the worlds most amazing chocolate bar) so that I could have a hefty supply as we ate every single green and red black cat in Kang in the first two weeks of placement so I wanted to be prepared for when the inevitable happened and selfish other people bought them all! Thursday there was no lessons at Matsha again so we made plans (exciting times!). However Friday was distressing as I taught my first ever history lesson! The Matsha history teacher got transferred so they have 2 teachers for 2000 students so to save the day I stepped in and now have my own two form 5 European history classes :S! This week was on the Balkans and bought back some hilarious memories of Alevel history..... its safe to say I am a massive geek and clearly was a massive keen bean in front of the kids!
Saturday Esther had the P.A.C.T kids round from Motaung for a bonding workshop...... Me Emma and Faye basically hid inside then snuck out into town as it was not the time for 30 rowdy 15 year olds! The whole thing went well until one of the kids stole a cigarette from Esther’s hand-bag and they all got sent home early. We bumped into them walking back from town and they warned us that she was maaaaad! 
Sunday was epic. Emma and Esther had met this man called Abraham in town ages ago who said he owned a Game Reserve and wanted us to come for a game drive so after weeks of excitement today was the day! The ginger Afrikaans came and picked us up and we were in the back of the pick up truck for the 40ish km drive - driving in the back of a pick up is so much fun, so long as its only for about 10 mins, by the end of it we all looked like we had lost a fight with a hedge!. Abraham and his family have to be the kindest most welcoming family I have ever met, they went to so much effort to make us feel welcome and gave us such an amazing experience. And man can his wife bake - I think if I lived there I would be fully obese from cake. Their kids Stefan and Christy took us on a game drive and we saw Wilderbeast and Vultures...... apparently we went to the wrong side of the farm as the others on the otherside saw everything! We did however glance through the fence into the Central Kalahari Game Reserve which is the second biggest game park in the world! After feeding the goats and playing with the babies we went back and ate Wilderbeast for dinner around the camp fire.... wilderbeast actually tastes amazing, Sainsburys needs to put in an order! After food we ate more amazing cake - milk pie - I’m not allowed dairy but this was so worth it. We went on a night drive and saw wilderbeasts, zebras, owls, bat eared foxes, jackals, spring hares (which look like foxes with no front legs and hop along like kangaroos!) and a wide variety of deer/antelope based animals. Stefan ran over a bird with the truck and we all screeched from the roof for him to stop so he reversed so we could get pictures of the squished corpse but when he reversed the bird was just stood under the car all casual then waltzed off as if nothing had happened! The night drive was awesome, there was no lions and stuff as its more of a hunting game reserve rather than a Safari but it was still fun. It was nice having someone put so much effort into making you feel welcome and making sure that you had a good time that it didn’t matter that I never got to skip through the bush with a baby lion and a zebra!

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Week 5

The week started slowly with the looooong bus ride back to Kang. It was fairly boring apart from seeing a dead cow with its back doors well and truely smashed in, some Ostriches, a Eagle and what were potentially vultures! Me, Faye and Emma got home to find the door bust open .... I expected to find Esther dead and robbed but she had just lost the keys and had to bash the door down to get in. For some reason Esther was perfectly fine but me Faye and Emma were bricking it so barricaded ourselves inside behind two sofas and two logs.... we took one to bed with us to beat intruders with. It was super scary though so we left after about an hour of trying to sleep and stayed at a friends house instead.... 3 pieces of white meat in the bed! We had to miss work on tuesday aswell as we had to wait for the locks to be changed and new doors sorted out so nothing happened other than us waiting around all day.

Wednesday as usual was TXY day, we played with the kids for a bit and helped them sort out and serve the lunch. In the afternoon we had a meeting with the VDC to help re-build relations between the two groups.  Things are looking up with this part of our project as the VDC are prepared to work with TXY - we have to help them go over their accounts and get them in order then organise a list of what needs doing and the VDC are basically going to sort it out!

Thursday was a public holiday so yet again we had the day off! We spent the day organising our proposals for the following day and just chilling. Friday we did some actual work and went to Matsha to do some teaching. Its confirmed now that as of next week im getting my own history class :P ..... so I am getting on the geeking so I know what to do!

Over the weekend we basically only left the house for food. I had major swine and the girls had epic hangovers so we stayed in bed moaning. Its a bit boring but this week has been pretty slow with all the days off and I was ill so avoided doing anything other than work.

Week 4

This week started with yet another trip to the clinic! The Doctor wanted to check up on me after I am allergic to Kang so off me and Faye Tray trotted at 10am promising Mr T we would be back before lunch to sort out lessons. 3 hours later we were still waiting in the que; it turns out the elderly women of Kang are right old nobbers who were pretending to help us out with clinic decorum and instead were just screwing us over! It wasn’t until a girl from Matsha came and sat next to me and had an argument with the old people that we finaly got in; only for the doctor to say I am fine! However he did try and prescribe me suncreme for my epic burn - fairly embarassing but luckily he decided I could handle sun burn without medical intervention ..... it did take some convincing though! 

Monday was made a hell of a lot better after the disaster of the clinic WE GOT PUPPIES!!!  Simon; a teacher at Moutang’s dog had a gazillion puppies and after Esther and Emma spent a week convincing him he gave us two for free. We have to give them back before we leave but thats a technicality! We called them Biggie and Nala and they are just the cutest. They are clearly going to be the most looked after dogs in Kang.

Tuesday we worked at Moutang again but today Mr T was on duty at lunch time so we had to help him out with dutys. Most of the students at the schools here board as this is a “hard to reach area”, so all students get all their meals at school. Tea break was a chunk of bread and the worlds worst tasteing juice - think banana flavoured medicine from childhood! We helped give out the food to the kids then the matron insisted we stay for food afterwards, in fairness they did put peanut butter on our bread so it was a bit nicer but the drink is horrific! This was the first time we have seen Botswana discipline in action. We got told at Matsha that if the students use their books for anything other than the set subject they got whipped but didn’t really believe it. However today Mr T gave a boy ‘3 sweets’ (3 lashes of the whip!) in front of us! It was horrible but neither the kid nor Mr T seemed faised by it. 

If you’ve been reading my blog you will have heard about how boring the events and meetings are around here. Today we naively agreeed to go to a Khotla meeting. (The Khotla is like the village hall where the leaders meet to make decisions and have meetings, the meetings are open to everyone hence why we went). Yet again it went on forever in Setswana so we snuck out and went to Moutang for a meeting with the head to discuss our programmes.  Afterwards, we spent the afternoon teaching Mr T sayings such as ‘your bang tidy’ and ‘smash your back doors in’.... Video’s will follow (it’s amazing).

Thursday we were back at Matsha and had to make mind maps with the students about what kind of topics they want to learn about - some great ones included beastiality, murder and prostitution! 

Friday we woke up super early to get the bus to Gab’s to visit the guys who are staying there.  It was Samira’s birthday in the week so we had a bit of a party at the guest house then went to a club, then went onto the nicest house in the world for an after party. Saturday was hangover central!!! After spending the morning moaning about being swiney we finally mustered the energy to hike to game city to buy shampoo; suprisingly in Kang white hair shampoo is hard to come by! I’ve no idea why I never though of this before I came but its all for afro hair! So we spent like 30pula on a cab to the shops then as we walked out of the car they all closed! It was devastating to say the least... so we went home and got Nandos. On sunday we basically spent the day watching come dine with me and variou shiz on MTV. We did help B (Wairumu’s son) write his personal statement for university. He is the most inspirational person I have ever met, he has made so much of his life after a horrible childhood and really shows what you can achieve if you are given a chance. In a nutshell he grew up on the streets and didn’t start school until he has 13, passed primary school in 3 years and has now been given a full scholarship by the Botswana government to any university in the world. He is so grounded and kind and if there were more people like him in the world it would most deffinatley be a better place. 

Week 3

Week 3 was the first week of proper placement. Wairimu had abandoned us in the middle of the Kalahari desert to fend for ourselves so off we went to attempt to do some teaching in the local schools! We have decided that the two schools where we can make the most difference and the ones that appear to need the most help are Matsha Collage (for form 4 and 5 - basically Sixth Form ages) and Moutang Junior School (form 1 - 3, so like high school age). The first time we went round these schools we were surprised by how westernised they looked and appeared to have everything they needed. However, we have since realized that they literally have no resources for the children, the chalk boards probably haven’t been painted since the 1990’s and the children are using out of date text books. There is a Science lab at Matsha that was set on fire about 5 years ago and stills looks exactly as it did after the fire had been put out, the school just hasn’t been given the funding by the government to repair the damage so its just at the end of the corridor and no one is allowed in!

The first lessons at Moutang were eventful to say the least. We started off teaching about HIV/AIDs and its safe to say the kids knew a lot more than we did! At the end they started asking really random questions such as “who was the first ever person to die from AID’s?” In the afternoon me and Faye Tray had our first experience of a Botswana hospital! We had to go because I had this horrific rash all over my arms and was convinced I had contracted some tropical disease, it turned out I was allergic to the desert!! Bit of a bummer but he gave me some pills, and an injection so its all gravy! The people in the doctors are fair sketchy, one guy called Chester sat there the whole time taking pictures of us and trying to convince Faye to let him have her number and be his girlfriend, then another lady asked my if we would breast feed her child (who looked about 5!) and then tried to steal my dress. So hopefully no-one will get ill again as I do not want to head back again unless we are on deaths door.

On Tuesday it was Labour Day, so after being told the chief would be there we all put on nice dresses and sandals and prepared for a day of partying and food..... turns out we were actually taking part in a 7k march then a 5 hour speech giving event. The events in Botswana, whilst being fairly interesting for the first 5 minuets literally go on forever in Setswana so we never have any idea whats going on or being said, they never run to time and the only good bit is the free food - which is unfortunately at the end so we have to wait for about 4 hours for a free meal! Seeing as it was a national holiday all the teachers were off work so we had arranged to go and meet with some students at Matsha Collage in the afternoon. Its a boarding school as some of the kids come from as far away as 700k so about 80% live on site. Usually they are left alone from half 4 until school starts the next morning and whatever they get up to is a mystery. But today they had literally been left alone for the whole day, there was no supervision at all and they had to sort out all their own food etc themselves.... we were amazed that they hadn’t destroyed the school and had instead set up football tournaments. The girls showed us around the dorms which were sparsely furnished and its safe to say I would definitely not want to be living there. It was good being able to chat to the students without teachers being there as they were able to tell us about how they felt without being worried about being overheard. In a nutshell they said that the teachers don’t give a rats ass about them or their education and just do the bare minimum, they don’t have any equipment, no support systems for outside of lessons and they feel that they have just been forgotten about by the government. Matsha is the worst school in Botswana, its 28/28 on the league tables and to be honest talking to the kids and how they feel they are treated its not suprising. It almost broke my heart when on the Friday at the careers fair a boy said “it’s almost as if they want us to go nowhere”, they genuinely want to achieve all these amazing things but no-one cares enough to try and help them achieve them!. 

Wednesday was TXY day. We spent the morning with the kids in the school, doing some lessons and some songs, then helped out at tea time and served the porridgy-looking stuff. We had a meeting with the VDC (Village Development Committee - basically if you want anything doing in the surrounding area you have to get these guys onside as they approve and fund projects) in the afternoon which revealed some interesting information. Basically the shit hit the fan and we have some epic work to do to sort out the fence situation. Today was however an epic day because I finally got my own bed! If any of you know, me and Faye Tray have been sharing a bed for the past two weeks whilst we found another and today was the day! Bernard (the little lamb) helped us bring it home, the joy of having my own bed was well and truly ruined when we realized it is like sleeping on a piece of wood!

Thursday was our first day of proper teaching at Matsha. Like at Motaung were working in Guidance and Counseling (basically PSE lessons) as the children really need a lot of help with things that we take for granted. We were told by the Peace Core volunteer Jan that in a lesson she asked the kids ‘What would you do if you fell out with a friend?”, the first answer was to commit suicide. Especially in Matsha, there is a real issue with suicide. At the end of last term 3 students committed suicide in the space of a week! I think today has been the most stressful and emotional day of the trip so far. It was annoying seeing how little the teachers cared about the kids and how blasé one was when he informed us that a form 5 student had said they were having suicidal thoughts.... it was genuinely said as if it was a run of the mill everyday occurrence! Today in lessons we worked on goal setting for the future which was really interesting. The kids have such high ambitions so were hoping to work on things like sorting out the right courses for career options and applying to university with them in the future. The kids are clueless about all sorts of things we have had millions of lessons on throughout school - careers, university, higher education, simply because they are not allowed on the internet at all. In keeping with all the planning for the future stuff in the afternoon, we helped to organise the careers fair which was happening on the next day (Friday). We expected this ‘planning meeting’ to just be organising final touches for the morning, but no.... they had absolutely no idea who was and wasn’t coming, the students didn’t have a clue it was even happening until someone whipped up a poster half way through the meeting. It was such a shambles, they genuinely couldn’t organise a piss up in a brewery with a leak in the beer kegs!

Against all the odds, the careers fair, organised less than 24 hours in advance was a success (according to the students ... I still had such qualms). Skillshare had a small stall where we were meant to chat to people about higher education and about volunteering and just give general advice. It was amazing to see how keen the students were to work with us on study skills and sorting out university applications. They have so much more enthusiasm and drive than any kids I’ve ever met in England, yet at the moment it sucks to say but is true that they have very little chance of ever realizing their potential simply because no-one gives a shit about them! I think that as much as my first two days working properly at Matsha annoyed me and made me angry at the Botswana education system, its made me so much more passionate about the pupils and making sure that we do something to help them reach their potential and to prove to them that they are valued and have not been forgotten. It may sound simple to solve but the issues run far deeper than lazy teachers and not enough funding so hopefully we will get to the bottom of it and sort out these kids, we’re even genuinely talking about going to see the President to make him help us out. I want to go in guns blazing and yell at him but at the moment were trying to figure out how to say “your a douche, come look after these kids and give them a chance” without sounding rude as I do not want to be barred from Botswana.
Saturday and Sunday we took part in a PACT workshop for the local schools. PACT Club is a counseling service run by students for students. The PACT kids are some of the most amazing inspirational people I have ever met, they are so happy and enthusiastic about everything and just put a smile on my face. The workshops dealt with stuff like HIV/AIDs, teenage pregnancy, stress and other things that affect the students but as usual it was all in Setswana so we all spent the majority of the time trying to look like we weren’t falling asleep. Saturday night we went to one of the teachers houses and she made us Mopane worms and pap to eat, they were actually really nice, then we went to a mixer for teachers. Sunday night has to be one of the best nights of my life. We met up with some friends and went into the bush (the actual middle of the desert), made a bonfire and had a BBQ and drinks. It was amazing, all the stars were out in the sky and looked beautiful and we just chilled playing volleyball, music and drinking. I think it is one of those things that you will never forget, I will always remember peeing in a circle with Emma and Faye Tray being scared we were about to be eaten by a lion!

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Week 2

Week two in Botswana was pretty exciting but super tiring. After a week of am starts I am so ready for the weekend!
We spent last weekend just exploring around Kang. Sunday we went to the Salt Pan which is really beautiful. Its the only watering hole for miles around so all the animals go to drink there and its such a nice place to relax and reflect on where we are. We also saw some chipmunks which we scared into their burrow. After getting lost in the desert on the way we finally found the way there and spent some time taking pictures and following a donkey with a snapped off broken leg as it limped around ....
The working week started early with an assembly at 7.20 am at one of the local primary schools! We have been in meetings all week with the schools and collage to organise a timetable of when and where we will be working. We have been in bed by about 9 every night as we have been leaving the house about 6 to walk the 5 miles into town! We made the mistake of eating out on monday lunch time and got mobbed by an old woman demanding food... its really hard to get used to people just walking up demanding money off of us.
We’ve had some progress on the TXY project, we have organised to get measurements for the fence and have decided upon what we will be building - brick wall with broken bottles on top. We turned up on wednesday to find the fence had been trampled (apparently by goats!) but it just made us realize how much effort we need to put into sorting out the fence issue asap. We have also begun to paint the ‘sick room’ at TXY, were going for a night sky with moons and stars - because non of us can draw! At the moment we’ve only done the base coat so I will put up some pictures of it when its finished. I have been covered head to toe in dark blue paint for the past two days! 
We met the village chief this week! We expected him to be some old cute man but in reality he was fairly sleazy. I accidentally called a man ‘thick-shit’ when he was telling me his name (which was actually fiction) ... but that was what it sounded like with his accent!!! However I have promised to help him find a British BMW..... so if anyone knows where I can find one either in Botswana or one that can be transported over please let me know :) 

Monday, 23 April 2012

Week 1 Adventures

Blog Week 1.
Nantwich - Heathrow - Nairobi - Gaborone - Kang. 
After what seemed like the longest plane journey in the world which consisted of playing ‘I’ve never’ so loudly we got told off by the air hostess, watching ‘Happy Feet 2’ on mute and commentating on the penguins ..... we basically spent 16 hours pissing off every other person on the plane with our Africa joy, we finally arrived in Gabs the capital of Botswana! 
The first week was spent in Gaborone, just being major tourists and then having some lessons which basically taught us to avoid being eaten by any wild animals! However, we did have some epic trips out. 
Saturday was spent exploring Gabs and shopping for some souvenirs. It was also the first trip in a Combi! The combis are Botswana’s version of a combination of a bus/taxi. As many people as possible squeeze into a mini van and just shout when they want to get off simple as. So we took the first combi to a recycling centre just outside of the city centre where they use waste to make the most amazing jewellery and random objects. It was fairly distressing at first as none of us knew the appropriate combi decorum and looked like such nubes. We were just lucky to have our amazing tour guide/ Setswana teacher Yvonne to help us out! After that we attempted to try local food which was ruined when we realised that what we thought was chicken salad stuff turned out to be tuna and cold baked beans then a bee jumped in my drink and a man made me throw it away. It is surprising how westernised some of Botswana is then in other parts you feel like you’re in Africa. In the malls its just like being in the Bullring then you waddle down the road and there’s women selling individual sweets for 1 pula! I also saw my first lion!!!! It was just the skinned fur for sale in the market but I touched it so it definitely counts.
Sunday was lil David’s birthday the big 2 - 0! Today was “a day’s cultural visit”. We went to a small village about an hour outside Gabs called Thamaga. We went to the Khotla (basically the meeting place where the community comes together to discuss issues etc) and were given the most amazing and overwhelming welcome! All the local young people put on a show of traditional song and dance in traditional dress (I will attempt to put up the videos!). It was so amazing and the atmosphere was intense. We were all flattered by how welcoming they were and how much effort they had put in just to entertain us. In return we did David’s classic making melodies....... doubtless they weren’t that impressed! The local kids were just as excited to see us as we were to see them and followed us around making videos on their phones! After that we went to a local woman’s house who brews local beer, we learnt how to make it and had a small taste, it wasn’t that good but is far better than frosty jacks! Our lovely guide for the day Tonic then took us back to her house for a picnic in her front garden where Kesh fell in love with her dog Bobby. We then made fat cakes; a Botswanan staple which we are going to attempt to learn to cook. When we got home we attempted to make home made Nandos as it was so expensive for actual Nandos..... it was an epic fail! Then we went out for drinks for David’s birthday, accidentally got a little worse for wear then came back and threw cake in his face and had a mini food fight.
Monday and Tuesday was just more Setswana lessons and placement information. Wednesday we left for Kang. It was horrible saying goodbye to everyone that we had grown so close to in such a short time. The journey was exciting to say they least..... we saw a donkey get hit by a car, almost hit a donkey ourselves and all of 2 seconds later killed a bird with the car. I also saw my first monkey munching on the side of the road. There are so many animals just roaming around on the motor way. Cows, donkeys and goats just saunter across the road as if there aren’t cars speeding by at 150 km! The journey was made all that better by the fact that Wairimu is just absolute jokes! After telling us about her life (which is just inspirational and her son who is going to university after only 5 years schooling [he was a street child and missed primary school]) she then turned to Faye Tray and said “Faye tell me about yourself” and continued to question us all about everything. So after hours of discussing really random things we finally arrived in Kang. Kang is on the Tans-Kalahari Highway which runs from South Africa to Namibia and is literally like the Lion King (scenery wise... I’ve not yet met any talking lions or singing warthogs!). Its a small town with a few shops and schools but is by far not as I imagined it. 
We spent the rest of the week meeting almost every single member of the community individually, going to the schools and collage. People were either delighted to see us or didn’t care at all! On Friday we were invited to an event at Kang Primary School for the reception of some computers donated in memory of the ex-Head Teacher. it proved to me how far behind in terms of technological knowledge and resources this area is, and also highlighted how much these kind of gifts mean to them in terms of future opportunities. At the post ceremony lunch we met the Education Secretary for Botswana then he introduced us to the PSP (Personal Secretary to the President) who is basically 3rd in command of the country. They seemed really interested in what we were going to do with our time here and in Skillshare as an organisation so we will hopefully be bombarding them with demands in the future! In the afternoon we went to visit the TXY Pre-Primary School which is our core placement. Its  such a small little school with about 20 - something students, it was good to see how much work the previous volunteers had already done however they are still in desperate need of a more secure fence as people are breaking in at night to use the playground as a space to drink in. There was beer bottles and broken glass all over the floor, and the playground which people worked so hard to create has been damaged. So the school is really in need of something more secure to keep people out and make sure the kids are safe during school hours. We met the little kids who ranged from 6 months to about 6 and they were at first really scared of us but within 5 minuets we were all racing around with hopping races, and playing the hokey kokey. But by far the BEST bit of the day was Faye Tray face-planting the floor when she fell over the snake toy and a tiny little girl with the best pink sparkly sunglasses literally wetting herself with laughter at her! The weekend isn't going to be that exciting, just a well deserved lie in after a week and a half of 6 am starts and catching up with people from home. Start placements on monday so will be able to let you know about all the things we have planned!

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Crimeny I am going to Africa tomorrow :S

Well basically the title says it all!

I've set up this blog so that all you wonderful people back in chilly rainy England can see all the exciting things I get up to in good old Botswana! Today I had to repack everything as my bag was popping at the seams and I was too weedy to lift it. Packing is officially the most stressful thing I have had to do so far, I think I may leave as much as I can behind just so there is less to cram back in in July. This time tomorrow I will be on the 20 something hour plane journey and I canny wait :D.

That's about all I have to say today as nothing has happened yet but keep on reading to see if what I think will happen (I will basically spend the 3 months making friends with a monkey like Rafiki from the lion king and adopt a baby leopard!) actually does happen! I'm already fairly sure that wont happen but we will just have to wait and see! Until then please visit my just giving page and if you can spare anything then please donate to Skillshare International, it does some amazing work and I can't wait to be apart of it.

Hopefully my next post will be more exciting and actually say something other than complaining about packing :)