My Day at Batlang!
Post by Alexandra Vasquez from Ramapo College of New Jersey
On Thursday the 12 of June I had the opportunity to learn about a great organization with my fellow CIEE students. As a group we traveled to Batlang Support Group. This is a NGO that was started in 2003 and is a community – based organization. It was formed in response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic taking over Botswana at the time. Their main focus is to help families that are infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. Upon our arrival the ladies from the community greeted and welcomed us to their humble facilities. They then went on to explain to us how the organization came about and its objective. Batlang’s mission is to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS by educating their community in Mogoditshane about abstinence and proper use of protection. In addition to spreading awareness about the disease, Batlang Support Group serves as a daycare center for orphaned and vulnerable children. They have kids that range in age from 0 to 6.
After learning about how the support group came in existence and its mission, we went on to get a tour of the area. They started by showing us their garden where they get their vegetables. Unfortunately, their garden was not in good condition. This is because the city of Gaborone has a very low supply of water at the moment. The water dam for the city is only at 15% of its capacity. Due to the shortage of water, the garden is not getting all the water it needs to grow successfully. From the garden we went on to the see the traditional oven that was under construction. Then we went inside and met some of the children. They sang songs for us such as you are my sunshine, the ABC’s, and recited all the months and numbers. They went on to show us the other rooms that were used for napping by the younger children.
Shortly after we concluded our tour the children were brought outside so we could play with them. Abbey and I were in charge of leading all the activities. We started with a simple icebreaker, Animal Scramble. At this point the kids were still shy and a bit hesitant to talk to us. Each kid got an animal and they had to make the noise of the animal given to them and find the others that had the same animal. With the help of other CIEE students we were able to get the kids to engage. We then moved on to the balloon game, which did not work as smoothly because the balloons kept popping.
They really seemed to enjoy playing with the balloons; thank goodness we brought plenty of them. We ended the session with the sponge race game where we divided them in to two groups and each team had 1 bucket full of water and one empty bucket. Taking turns, fill your sponge with water, run to the empty bucket and squeeze it out, and run back and pass your sponge to the next person in line. From the looks of it that was their favorite game! We then ended everything by handing out candy and taking a ton of pictures with the kids. We all had such a great time and we were able to bring smiles to all their faces. Abby and I loved it so much that we are going back again the upcoming Friday. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend my Thursday afternoon.