This title is a little misleading. I can pronounce it every three or four tries when the phlegm in the back of my throat works right. Anyway, this is my future home! I found out today that I will be living in this tiny village (also called a small settlement) for the next two years. It’s probably about thirty kilometers from Molepolole and maybe sixty or so from Gabs. So I’m below the Malaria line!! I will be working in the primary school (grades 1-7) which is most likely a small school of only about two to three-hundred kids. I won’t be teaching, but I’ll be there as a resource to other teachers and to run clubs and other activities for the littles (this is my favorite term, so I’ll probably use it often). The village itself only has a population of 430. It’s the seventh poorest village in Botswana and is comprised mostly of agricultural workers. It’s in the middle of nowhere with no paved roads entering the village at all. In fact, it’s probably about twenty to thirty minutes of driving on dirt roads to reach a large enough village to warrant pavement. I honestly know very little about it because there is no literature on it. Most of the other volunteers received a little information about the village and what previous volunteers did there, but I will be the first volunteer to ever serve in Ralekgetho, so no such information was available. I have been informed that I will likely have running water (unless the village is out which is common in the drought we’re in), but it’s unlikely that I will have electricity. So it will be an exciting time to figure out how to preserve food and keep up on my blog posts! It’s unlikely that there will be any internet in my village, but I’m hoping to maintain the little internet I’m able to get on my phone. I’m extremely excited! I know that it will be challenging to work with an extremely impoverished community and not have things like electricity that I take for granted, but I also know that I will really be able to make an impact as the first volunteer and I will also be able to grow so much more because I am not relying on my Western amenities. My country director told me that I am going to have a really unique Peace Corps experience because it is actually becoming really uncommon to live in a village this rural. I’m really excited for this experience and I will be trying to maintain a regular blogging schedule, though (I promise!). My host mom is not as excited as I am. She thinks I should have been placed with electricity (I’m not surprised because she spoils me and thinks everyone should [Which, duh! Everyone should spoil me]), and she also thinks I should be working with college age students because I am so smart. She really loves and thinks highly of me. I guess I made a really good impression or she thinks all Lekgoas (white people) are that way.
So to give you an idea of how they kept our excitement growing today: They had us all sit in designated seats for trainees, raise our left hand, drop it on our arm rests, reach underneath, and guess what was there! Used chewing gum, just kidding, it was a small slip of paper that had a number on it. So that’s how they decided what order we went in (I was number 26, my best friend, AKA my PC spouse AKA Bethany was number 5). Then they took us up, one by one. We opened a small envelope with our names on them, read a proverb (all of them were different) that ended with in (insert village name here). Then we all screamed and got excited. We then walked to another table, got an envelope with more information in it (that is if you had someone in your placement before, mine just informed me what school I’d be in), walked onstage and got our placement put on the map. Then we got a cookie with the number we were sited on it and watched and screamed for everyone else! It was the most exciting day we’ve had and there were only a few people upset by their placements. It really is a crazy time now because we are all just ready to be there. Our next two days are spent meeting our supervisors and doing supervisor workshops to make sure we’re on the same page. Then on Saturday we travel to our sites and are there for a two week site visit. We stay with new home stays; mine is a woman on the staff at my school who has a three or four year old. I’ll be trying to write more posts during my site visit, but it’s going to be a pretty crazy time. Then on the weekend of the 25th, I’ll travel to a neighboring village, Thamaga to shadow two volunteers who currently live there. They purposefully placed me near this village because there is a large pottery/ceramics community there. The only thing I requested was to be near pottery, I didn’t ask for amenities or a specific grade level, I just wanted to be near the possibility of continuing my wheel throwing. After the shadowing, I will be traveling (by myself for the first time) back to Moleps for three more weeks of training. I think it will be hard to go back to Moleps after getting a taste of my village, but at least we’ll all have a chance to debrief together. I am so excited for this adventure and every day it becomes more real. I can’t believe it’s already been a month, because I feel like I’ve barely touched the tip of the iceberg. I can’t wait to see my village and discover where I can help for the next two years!
UPDATE: This post was written on September 10th before I went to my site and has a few facts wrong. Since then I discovered that I will have power during my two week visit, which started on Saturday September 12th. I will however have no running water. For the house I will be staying at starting in October, for the balance of my time here, I will have no power or running water. I will also have reasonable internet (although more limited and no MySocial plans) and phone. It is also about 88km from Molepolole and 95km from Gaborone on the roads. The distances in the above post are as the bird flies.