Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Getting down to business

So it’s been a while since my last post and there’s a lot to talk about. I’ve been pretty busy here which is why this has been so long in coming. Since there is so much to write, I don’t think I’ll be able to make any overarching theme like the last few posts so forgive me.


So, for the first three months at site, we are on “Travel Restriction” which means we shouldn’t be leaving site for over a day unless it’s an emergency or your collaborating with another volunteer on a project. Traveling to town to shop for groceries of course is ok but since I’m 100 miles away from town, I only go in once a month. But, on Thanksgiving week, we were allowed to spend time at our neighboring volunteers’ sites to see their schools, brainstorm, and celebrate Thanksgiving with one of our families. So I got to travel to see Kelee and Art at the two sites closest to me and they came out to mine for Thanksgiving. It was great to see some different villages and realize how even in our rural setting there is so much diversity. And perhaps even better was seeing the things that Kelee and Art have been doing at schools. I was able to equip them with tools for their computers but Kelee helped show me how to teach English with songs in the Primary School and Art showed me how to make more effective use of school projectors using his experience as a middle school teacher in the states. Spending the week together was also great to get to know them all better. In addition to the experience of meeting so many people from another country, I think one of the other benefits of the Peace Corps is meeting other volunteers. We’re so diverse yet all very driven and can learn a lot from each other. We arrived at my site on the day before Thanksgiving. The weekend before, I had driven around with my host mom and some friends, in search of turkeys for sale (yes, though scarce, there are turkey’s in my village in South Africa, don’t ask me how…) I learned that turkeys die a lot. We went to four houses before finding one whose flock hadn’t been decimated by disease or eaten by dogs. We made a deal to collect the turkey and pay for it when I returned. When we came, we got the turkey for R150 (about $20-25) and drove it back home with its wings and feet tied. Then came the exciting part: I got to slaughter my first animal. The boys held it down and insisted I use my knife (my Leatherman) even though I’d wanted to use a hatchet. It’s surprisingly hard to cut through the neck and my local friends were laughing as I tried. Finally it was done and the turkey was dead. We then poured boiling water over the body and plucked it. Art was the master plucker and Kelee then helped clean by removing the quills that were stuck. Finally me and one of my local friends cut it open and removed all the fun stuff inside. We washed it off and stuck it in the fridge for the next day.

We spent the morning hanging out and got to cooking around noon. Art and I attempted to cook our first turkey. We had no foil so we basted it often and used a lot of margarine. We added salt and garlic too. For the stuffing, we mixed bread with onions, all the spare parts (heart, liver, kidneys, and gizzard), mango achaar, and a little cumin and coriander. It was all really good. Meanwhile, Kelee worked with my host aunt/sister (Mpho) to make bread and she made some really good custard and dumpling pudding. We made garlic mashed potatoes and a little vegetable stew as a side and of course a pot of bogobe. We invited the fathers from the mission and some of the local guys that helped get the turkey. We had a wonderful meal and I tried as best I could to explain the meaning of Thanksgiving in mixed English/seTswana. Afterward I had turkey sandwiches for days. My tummy was happier than it’s ever been here.

The link below goes to pics. WARNING: there is blood, and dead turkey.

Thanksgiving in the northern Northern Cape

A Welcome Reprieve

The last week of school, Tsoe P.S. took their grade 6 to Molopo Nature Reserve near Botswana for their farewell. And they invited me. We had a braii (BBQ) and I ate so much meat, my tummy smiled. We then piled into the trucks and drove out to see animals. We saw 3-4 types of deer (including springbok “tshepe” and something known as “tolo” – it’s in the Lion King though). We also saw zebras and wildebeest close up. And two giraffes crossed the road just in front of us.

Click on the pic below to link to this album with animals:
Molopo Nature Reserve/ Tsoe 6th grade farewell

Head first

After, Art and Kelee returned to their sites, I dove into preparing for my first real project at site. I’m doing a summer camp for the kids to teach sports, chess, and creativity competitions as a mechanism to have discussions on life skills and HIV. My high school has been super supportive in terms of money and resources and I also have benefited strongly from working with a local who runs an NGO called the Rural Youth Development Organization. I tried to get the word out during the last week at schools but attendance was poor and teachers were busy finishing paperwork. I posted signs in all the shops in town and had the priests and other churches I knew announce the program on Sundays. I made 10 chess sets from cardboard and paper by hand and then finally the first day came. I waited with my counterpart, Seatlasaone, starting at 1pm (when the camp was scheduled to start). We waited and waited, then waited some more. We spent a lot of time talking, trying to assess what we had done wrong and what we could do to fix it both for the future and for the current camp. Then finally at 3:30pm, one girl showed up. We talked for a little while and asked her to bring her friends all next time. We then left a little before 4pm and gave up for the day. Apparently 3 boys showed up a little after 4pm but the camp is scheduled to go from 1-5pm. The next day, Kelee arrived to help out. We met up with one of my friends, Thabiso, and walked the village, chatting up any kids we saw and spreading the news. Then we waited the next day. As soon as we arrived, before 1pm, there were two kids. By 1:30 we had 10. Once we got rolling, there were 22 who came. We focused the day on chess with a brief discussion on planning ahead and we started and ended the day with some sports. The kids seemed to enjoy it and I was overjoyed. Hopefully they’ll all come back on Friday and we’ll keep this momentum going. One of the best things too is that this is potentially a sustainable project. Seatlasaone will be here after I leave. Also, Thabiso, is already proving to be a great helper in explaining things and maybe someday will be able to help lead the camp. Life goes up and down as always but you’ve just gotta live the way they do out here: Ga go na molato (no worries).

1 comment:

John said...

those turkey pics are awesome. i showed them to my sister and she had flashbacks of killing chickens in the philippines. well done on the tday dinner, too.