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3 posts from August 2013





Dumelang (hello)!

It's that time of the year again when we look back at the amazing time we had with the summer group of Community Public Health students.  Though it was a short programme, lasting about 2 months, we got up to so much! There were clinical rotations, some travelling and half the group took a trip to one of Botswana's wildlife treasures: the Okavango Delta.

Here's what's in this issue:

CIEE Student blog highlights
Summer Media Projects (Videos)
CIEE Azonto (Video)
Excursion article: CIEE trip to the Okavango Delta

Blog Highlights

As always, our weekly student blogs were informative, sometimes funny but always eye opening. There were so many stories to tell and experiences to share.  In case you missed out on some of them, browse through the links below.

Life in Gaborone

Our first blog "Dumelang" was from Abigail Dykes who gave us a quick run through of her first week settling in to her study abroad experience in Gaborone. Her very first day in Gaborone started with a power cut! Garret Donaldson also shared his first impressions of Gaborone in "Finally in Botswana!", as did Muijj Ghani in "Godbye Nebraska, Hello Gaborone". Elizabeth Pappenfus gave us a glimpse into daily life in her blog "A day in the life of Miss Pappenfus". Emily Roberts and Michelle Vu fell in love with children during a visit to Tlamelo trust in Old Naledi. See what they got up to in "Playtime in Old Naledi" and "It's official, I'm adopting 20 children!"

6a010536fa9ded970b01901d856587970b-800wiSalpi Apkarian described week 2 of her time here in "Settling into life in Botswana", in which she went to Mokgolodi Game Reserve and to the Victoria Falls. In "Oeme ha stopong", Alexander Polino gave a comical account of the public transport system here in Gaborone. Katie Schmidt chose to spend some of her free time at a local art exhibition in "Amazed by Art".


Clinical Rotations

Clinical rotations took place everyday at various clinics around the city and allowed the students to get hands on experience working in a public health setting. Elizabeth Doro and Jamieca Love described their time on rotation in "Clinics, Fat Cakes and Setswana" and "My week in the Extension 2 Clinic" respectively. Nitin Agrawal had the unique experience of observing home based care and described it in "Home Based Care". 6a010536fa9ded970b0192ac32f114970d-800wiDane Mallad also briefly shared her Clinical experience in "Week 3 in Botswana". Unfortunately, Olivia Trofimuk became a patient when she caught Malaria after a trip to the Victoria Falls. However, she looked back on it humourously in "This one time in Africa, I got Malaria".


The Victoria Falls on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe is a favorite destination for many given that it's one of the is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Alvin George shared his trip there in "A weekend at Victoria Falls". 6a010536fa9ded970b019103722719970c-800wi

The students also spent a week in a village close to the city called Kanye. Sif Nave tells us a bit about it in "A Village called Kanye". In "From the dorms to a homestay" Janine Appleton chose to write about her experience going from a dorm in Gaborone to a homestay in Kanye. Komal Ramzanali had a somewhat adventurous time in Kanye,where she found herself locked in a bathroom! Read "Bathroom Adventures in Kanye" to find out what happened. Aine Lehane described a trip to Serowe Rhino sanctuary in "Our Rhino Tracking Adventure". Lakin Hocker did her best to recount her 5 days camping in the Okavango Delta in "Where the wild things are".



Other students took the time to reflect on their experiences here, drawing lessons from them or using the experiences to learn about themselves. Jordan Threatt has lived in northern Africa before and took the time to reconnect with her love for the continent in "Rediscovering Africa". Vicky Shah shares a few lessons she learned during her travel abroad experience in "When you leave home". Emily Brincka took a look back at her time in Botswana in "Goodbye Gaborone!". Kelsey Gratz found the African within herself and also shared some lessons she'd picked up during her time here in "Lessons from a white African".

Summer Media Projects (Videos)

One of the highlights of our programme is always the humourous but informative videos the students create for their media projects. Below are two videos; one summarizing the week in Kanye where the group got to attend a traditional wedding, and another introducing the life of a dorm student, hand washing included!



CIEE Azonto (Video)

On a lighthearted note, a few of our students decided to try their hand at doing a popular Nigerian dance called the Azonto. Luckily we caught it on video!


Excursion article: CIEE trip to the Okavango Delta

1069166_10151623007029550_748924646_nAt the end of the Summer semester, some of the students opted to go on a CIEE trip to the Okavango Delta in the northwest of Botswana.The Okavango Delta is a natural wild ecosystem supported by the Okavango River that regularly floods the area every year. This water and area supports a wide range of wild animals that are one of Botswana’s biggest tourist attractions.

The trip began early on a Tuesday morning with everyone reporting to the CIEE office at 6:30am where the transport was waiting. The first leg of the journey was a 10 hour drive from Gaborone to Maun where the students would spent a night before proceding to the Delta the following day. 1006283_10151621770914550_1787393648_nAt 9am the following day, the students were met by the guides at the lodge. The guides ushered everyone into two safari trucks and then began a slow, dusty and bumpy 3 hour journey to the campsite in the Moremi Game Reserve. The last hour of the drive was quite pleasant as some animals were spotted which increased everyone's excitement.  1009772_10151623009984550_1221937552_n1044090_10151622275334550_1308806741_nUpon arrival at the campsite, the students got a chance to meet the campsite staff, choose tents, freshen up, have lunch and prepare themselves for an afternoon game drive. IMG_50941014155_10151622276559550_1740306743_nMajority of the 3 days were spent going on leisurely morning and afternoon game drives where one could see a variety of animals in their natural habitat including Leopards, Elephants, Lions and Hippos. 58920_10151622275764550_865916392_nIt was also not strange to see a herd of elephants casually walking by the campsite or hearing hyenas laughing by the tents at 3am, and on the last day a herd of Zebra passed by during breakfast. The students also got to take a relaxing river ride in mokoros (dug out canoes) and some even tried to master the art of steering a mokoro too!  1003027_10151622577569550_2092197226_nThe campsite staff kept everyone happy with delicious meals and the head chef went as far as baking fresh bread for breakfast! 998033_10151622276814550_1292926843_nThe guides diligently answered questions about the animals and their behaviours. They also gave a lecture on how the Okavango ecosystem works and the various threats to its future existence. 1004640_10151623009864550_509309058_nThe trip culminated in a short scenic plane ride over the delta back to Maun. The arrival at the Maun airport signified the end of an amazing 4 days in the bush. 944566_10151623019299550_2002945131_n


And on that note, we come to the end of the 2nd 2013 issue of our CIEE Gaborone newsletter. Keep your eye on our blogs to catch up with our new students who have just joined us.

As always, till the next issue, sala sentle (stay well)!


This one time, in Africa, I got Malaria.

891649_10200333138028562_620467371_oPost by Olivia Trofimuk

As I began preparing to head back to the States, I was sucker punched with a bout of malaria during my final week in Gaborone.  Symptoms began like a nasty flu: fever, chills, muscle aches, and nausea.  My flatmates would say I’m unlucky as I’d just gotten over a head cold and had a gastrointestinal infection the same time as malaria, but I like to think of my body as being susceptible to a complete African experience.  In any case, I knew I had more than just a nasty flu when my symptoms worsened and began appearing in a cyclic pattern—one day it’d be fatigue and muscle aches, the next fever and chills, and the day after that fatigue, muscle aches, and nausea.  Occasionally, I’d experience all of these symptoms at once.  After a few days in this sluggish nightmare, I sought the advice of the program physician who quickly confirmed my malaria suspicion.

Truly, malaria feels like much more than the flu.  Rather than just telling you exactly what it’s like, I’d like to offer some illustrative context:
Image003 Image005 Image001

Yes, malaria feels like eating a deceivingly delicious but tainted burrito, being hit by a bus, and having a permanent hangover.  Thankfully, I had contracted an uncomplicated and mild form.  I was prescribed antimalarials (Coartem) for the P. falciparum parasite—the most common kind in Botswana—as well as pain (Myprodol) and nausea (Oraspas) meds.

Treatment took three days and 51 pills.  I was required to finish all of my antimalarials (4 pills twice a day), a pill for pain, and 2 for nausea, both three times a day if symptoms persisted.  Symptoms persisted alright—nausea even after I ran out of my medication—but that was due to the aforementioned gastrointestinal infection and I was prescribed an additional drug.

Image008I began to feel like my old self about a week later, just in time to head back to the States.  Since no confirmatory tests were performed to determine which strain of malaria I had, I was a bit nervous about relapsing, as it can occur with improper malaria treatment.  I’ll definitely have to keep an eye on that over the next few weeks.

All in all, the disease was really just a nuisance.  As uncomfortable as I was at times, I was for the most part, able to go about my life as usual and was lucky enough to not need hospitalization.  I think I have the malarial prophylaxis to thank for that, although I had hoped it, combined with the CDC’s recommended bug spray and sleeping under a mosquito net, would be sufficient enough to avoid infection.  However, I can also thank the prophylaxis for prolonging the malaria’s incubation period, as I had caught it while travelling to Vic Falls about a month before diagnosis.  Despite the illness, the trip to The Falls was still totally worth it!

Where the Wild Things Are: Okavango Delta Edition

Photo(4)Post by Lakin Hocker from Indiana University

How do I even put this experience into words that make it sound as cool as it really was? I will do my best! 

Last Wednesday, the 18 of us (16 students and 2 student volunteers) made our way to Maun on a 27-seater private bus. The 10-hour ride was rather awful, but when we got to the lodge that night things were looking up. We met our professional guides, Clinton and Simon, who would be with us during the safari and we spent the night at the lodge in really nice tents. 

Thursday morning we made the 3-hour drive into the Delta via safari truck. That’s right. Imagine sticking your head out the window of a car for 3 hours. I don’t think my hair will ever recover from that ride.We got to our camp and almost immediately went out on a game drive. Within 5 minutes we were seeing elephants and hippos. We even came across 5 lions. It was so cool! We were able to get so close to them.

IMG_1303 IMG_1325After that, we went back to camp and had lunch. Other than Clinton and Simon, we had a staff of 3 gentlemen working on our campsite to set up our tents, make our meals, dig our toilets, and prepare our showers. They did a great job; all our meals were so yummy! After lunch, we were able to get settled into our tents. There were two people per tent. IMG_1404

The tents were very basic, not like the fancy ones we got at the lodge the night before; they only consisted of two bed rolls. I went to scope out the toilets, and I was actually pleasantly surprised. We had three different toilet booths set up for us. They were basically just a hole in the ground with a toilet seat supported over it. There was a pile of sand next to the hole with a cup in it, so that we could cover up our business after we were done. (Sorry if this is way too much information.)

IMG_1967At 3:30pm we had tea and biscuits, and at 4pm we went out on another game drive. We saw more lions and a leopard! We came back around 7pm and had dinner. After dinner, we sat around the fire and listened to Clinton’s stories of his various hippos attacks. Going to sleep that night was rough. I mean, we were literally just out in the wilderness amongst all the animals. They warned us that animals would come sniffing through the camp at night, but that as long as we stayed in our tents we were safe. This was reassuring until they told a follow-up story about a man who two weeks ago at the same exact camp-site got up in the middle of the night to pee, and got attacked by a hyena. However, I finally fell asleep but woke up at 2am to something walking around my tent. I was terrified. I didn’t fall back to sleep until 3am. 

IMG_1431Thankfully, I woke up with all ten fingers and toes the next morning. Simon told us that there were hyenas walking through our camp at night, so that’s what I heard. Our wake-up call was at 5:30am each morning; breakfast was at 6am; we headed out for a game drive by 6:30am. That morning was a crazy game drive. We found a female leopard and got within 10 yards of her. We watched her hunt 3 impala, but sadly she missed her chance and we didn’t get to see a kill. We also came across 4 elephants in the bush. One was a mama, and apparently we were making too much noise, so she walked within 10 feet of the truck and spread her ears out warning us. It was SO scary. She could have easily attacked the truck and knocked it over. As she was coming closer I kept looking at Clinton because I thought he would drive away, but he didn’t. He just told us to be quiet. She was definitely angry with us, but she ended up turning around leaving us alone. It was then that I realized these definitely aren’t the same domesticated elephants I rode in Zimbabwe, and that we really were in a risky situation.

IMG_1308Other than that, we saw a crocodile and lots of hippos. Clinton dropped us off at a river channel and we went on a mokoro ride through the channels of the Okavango River. A mokoro is a really simple, lightweight canoe made out of fiberglass. They’re made to float in extremely shallow water. Two people sat in each mokoro and a guide stood in the back and pushed us along the river with a stick. It was very relaxing; I felt like Pocahontas. After lunch and a short nap we went out on another game drive where we saw 30 elephants at a watering hole and dozens of hippos sleeping in the water. 

IMG_1451The game drives on Saturday were very fun. We saw a leopard mother and her baby cub who was about 2-3 months old. They had killed a red letchwe (a type of antelope) the night before and had taken it up into a tree to eat it. It was gnarley to see that. We also got to see two huge herds of elephants walk up and greet each other. One came right up to our truck to check it out. He literally stood right in front of it just looking at us and sniffing it with his trunk. He eventually shook his head and walked off, but it was SO cool. It wasn’t scary because you could just tell he wasn’t mad at all, just curious.

IMG_2020Before lunch, Simon gave us a little lecture about the Delta and how it got there and what the future looks like for it. I took a shower that afternoon and it was awesome! I’m definitely a fan of the outdoor shower. That evening we saw a herd of over 300 water buffalo and 40 elephants drinking out of the same water hole. It was cool to see how they interact with one another. 

Sunday was our lucky day. After three days of searching for the highly endangered African Wild Dog we finally saw one and 5 of her puppies! They were soooo cute. Even though they’re a top predator, I still wanted to cuddle them all. After that we all got driven to the air strip, and we took a three separate propeller planes to the Maun airport to catch our bus back to Gabs. I got to sit in the co-pilot’s seat which was pretty cool! 1095054_10200917146548516_1208561981_n