The opinions expressed in this blog are mine, and mine alone. They do not represent the views of the Peace Corps or the United States Government.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Romanticism and Reality

The goal of the first two months of our service is to truly understand our village—its strengths, weaknesses, winners, losers, resources, people, history, shops, geography, etc. I had a meeting with the Member of Parliament from Shoshong who informed me that Shoshong’s population was double what I thought it was, closer to 14,000. That made me feel better about my inability to reach an entire section of the village. Even the police station is 4 kilometers away from the center of town (and the clinic). To work at the schools, I either need to organize transport, hitchhike or walk almost 2 hours. Defining my “target area” has been difficult. So I have focused on trying to walk around the areas accessible to me—my ward, the center of town, and the area around the clinic.

In some ways, I am still in the romantic stage of service. Although I am beginning to feel comfortable, many things are still new. There are shops I have yet to visit, people I have yet to meet. And I can’t remember most of the names of the people I have met anyway. I have formed some relationships with students who attend the schools I am working in. Two of these students, Ntebogang and Godiraone, showed me the beautiful Shoshong hills last Saturday. I put my hiking boots to good use and climbed up the hills. It was really nice. We took a lot of pictures, including many “model” shots.

Godiraone and I

Ntebogang and I

Me eating local berries…

Which you spit out

Ntebogang showing her newly acquired American hand gesture

On the other hand, I am beginning to see the harsh realities of life in Shoshong, especially in relation to HIV. In a past blog post, I talked about the woman whose house I visited. I spoke with her and her husband about his ARV regimen, explaining that he shouldn’t drink or smoke. I returned to their house and realized that she makes and sells traditional beer. It is impossible not to walk by there without 10 drunk people calling me over to chat. One woman brought me to her house and showed me her HIV medical records. People tend to do that with me. She then got in a drunken verbal argument with her husband, calling him a thief among other things. I will expand more upon the challenges of HIV work in Shoshong (and Botswana as a whole) in a later post. But this was one of the first times that I really began to feel like I was getting into the thick of the problem.


  1. It gets realer and realer, eh honey? The relationships and reality do come together to be both rewarding and distressing. Sounds like you are following your gut, your mind, and your heart, Amelia. Can't do much mre than that. Love, dad

  2. By the way, great pictures - really gives feel for you there, and for those you are getting to know - tanks honey - dad