Post by Sif Nave from St.
Kanye is a HUGE village (47-49,000 people - I kept hearing different
numbers, so there's a range) about an hour outside of Gabs. The countryside is GORGEOUS there. The village (which should be called a city)
is nestled in the hills, where every sunrise and sunset is uniquely
lovely. There wasn't much to do there in
all sincerity; or rather, there was plenty to do, but limited access to
actually doing it. The whole group was
spread out throughout the village (which as I've said, is large) and we were
dependent on one form of transportation (a hired combi driver who
picked us up and dropped us off at our clinics and at home).
We were in Kanye from Sunday, June 23rd, to Sunday June 30th. All of us were paired up with Kanye host
families. My host mom was called Gloria,
and Gloria's granddaughter, Refilwe, lived with us. She was 13 or 14, in junior high school; very
pretty and kind of quiet. I wish I'd
gotten a chance to take a photo of her, but she went out of town before I
left so I missed my opportunity! However, I do have photos of Gloria, as well
as Blondie, who I've determined to be my dog-away-from home.
"Domesticated" animals in Africa
are nothing like pets in the U.S. Most
of the dogs and cats I see are strays, and very few of them have any interest
whatsoever in engaging with humans (outside of digging through their garbage to
salvage scraps). I've seen and heard dog
packs roaming at night, as well as heard potentially fatal dog fights. And rabies is endemic in Botswana, so I wouldn't mosey around trying to pet
every dog I see. BUT, Blondie is a lap dog. Blondie
is a jump-on-you-and-lick-your-face dog.
And therefore: Blondie is the
Tabo (our awesome hired driver) picked us up in the mornings (often an hour
later than he told us to be ready) and took us to our designated clinics. Our clinic was pretty boring, to be quite frank. There was a disproportionate medical staff to
patient ratio, but it was converse to the ratio in most Gabs clinics. In Gaborone, most of the clinics I've worked
in have had a limited number of medical staff with vastly larger numbers of
patients. In Kanye, our clinic was
practically (sometimes completely) empty.
I helped out in consultation, maternity, and the dispensary, but it
seemed like I was of little use no matter where I was. At one point, in maternity, I had three people hanging over my shoulder,
telling me what to write down on a sheet of paper. There were three staff members in the room,
plus Vicki, myself, and the mother and child patient. It was unnecessary, not to mention
claustrophobic. I only needed assistance
from one individual. But I digress: I spent most of my time in the dispensary
because it actually gave me tasks to accomplish. I located and distributed medications to
patients, as well as counted & organized pills into take-away packages. Super exciting, no? But I also got to know my clinical group a
little better, and that was great. Vicki
and I had an hour-long conversation about books, for example. AND, on the last day when there was nothing
left to do, I got tested for HIV!
Let me reassure you: There is
absolutely no grounds for getting tested in my case. I'd have no reason to be infected. But, I wanted to see how the test works, and
hey: Being positive that you're NOT
positive never hurts. Well, actually, it
does. But it's just a finger prick, so
you'll get over it. Basically, they prick your finger, they draw a little bit of blood, and
they put it on a little plate which seems to be lined with some kind of litmus
paper (or something like it). Then they
mix a buffer chemical with your blood and as the litmus sheet gets wet, red
lines start to appear on the sheet. If
there's one red line: Congrats, you're
HIV negative! If there's two: Masepa, bro.
You best get treated.
After clinicals, Tabo would pick us up and take us to Choppies/Chicken
Licken to grab lunch. My host mom
usually sent me with a banana, and then I'd find a cheap meat pie or something
at the grocery store. There was a cute
little cafe/bar just down the street from Choppies (okay, a teeny bit further
than that, a few blocks) that a
couple of us wandered into early on.
They had drinks on the cheaper side for Bots (liquor here is expensive!)
and I tried a tasty Smirnoff wine cooler.
I also chased a cute feral kitten.
But I had no success in catching it.
Other than wandering around the central vicinity of Choppies, I spent a lot
of time just hanging with Muijj near my house.
We walked up the road one day and found this rocky overlook with a
fantastic view of Kanye. Honestly, there
wasn't much to it, but it was special.
Definitely a spot worth returning to.
My host mom was very welcoming and generous. She served Muijj dinner twice, and she didn't
have to. Not only that, but it was
DELICIOUS. Usually when there's a hunk
of white stuff on your plate, it's pap.
Pap is kind of like grits (which I've never had, but people keep saying
that's what it resembles). My real mom
calls it "pure carbohydrate."
But anyway, the point is Gloria put a hunk of white stuff on our plates,
and it WAS NOT pap. It was MASHED
POTATOES. And in honor of her name, they
were GLORIOUS. Serious.
With the dry winter season in Botswana, water shortages can hit hard. Gabs has been fine, but in Kanye sometimes
the water was off for more than a day.
They had a water tank behind the house, but otherwise we'd stock up on
water when it was turned on. There were
bottles full of it in the fridge, and if I wanted to bathe, Gloria would fill a
bucket from the tank, boil it, and dump it in the bathtub. I discovered that having access to full baths
in Gabs was actually a luxury (honestly, when I got home from Kanye, I sat in
the tub for like an hour letting the dirt flake off my skin!) and when I get
home (to MN) I'll probably find the
shower to be the greatest luxury of all - next to the Internet.
The final event in Kanye was a wedding, Saturday morning. Liz's host mom invited all of us to come, and
though it started off a bit awkward and slow for us makgoa foreigners, it was
worth staying for. Some of us sliced up
cow innards, we all served up food to the guests and got to eat ourselves, and
there was a DJ playing music that we all danced to. Nitin swore he wouldn't dance in the
beginning, but he ended up having a voracious old lady for a dance partner.