As you in Canada spend a quiet day with your families and loved ones, I am also reflecting about those things for which I am grateful:
In no particular order
- Air conditioning – as I made the daily migration at 2:30 this afternoon from my temporary office to the boardroom which has an air conditioner I am truly grateful for this invention as the temperature is once again 36 or 37 degrees outside. As I look at the control that reads it is cooling to 16 degrees and I am still covered in a dewy shine I can only imagine what it would be like if there was no air conditioning in that building or my cosy apartment.
- Tabuche, my personal driver – He is a saint for driving me I swear. He is kind, honest, reliable, incredible punctual and patient as I ask him fifteen thousand questions on the way to and from work, after all he is a captive audience. He even texts and calls me when I am late leaving my office – See Mary Nicholson, that is what you need in order to leave on time.
- Okay, this one is pretty petty but I adore having my laundry and ironing done for me. I have this amazing magic hamper. I put the dirty clothes in and two days later they are clean, ironed better than I ever could and hung in my closet. It is truly magic…this must be how men feel all of the time! Maybe I will never be able to come back to Canada unless someone promises me clean pressed clothes. The only downside to this is that they also iron my long dresses….now I can’t walk in them because they are at least a good foot longer than I am tall so I am constantly tripping. Oh well, the sacrifice is worth it.
- I am truly grateful that I get the opportunity to live in and explore this amazing country. When I said that I wanted to live in African and started looking for opportunities, Botswana was not even on my radar. Now I can not begin to tell you how happy I am to have come here. It is like a match made in heaven. Yes, like everywhere else on this earth, it has its good points and it’s bad. But I can not imagine being anywhere else – not even Morocco which has always been my paradise. Botswana does not have the sensory overload that Morocco offers but it offers something so much better – it feels like home in every sense of the word. The people, the landscape, the culture, the work and the life. I am so very thankful to be here. An example of the amazing culture can be seen in the video that I took at the Cultural Center, unfortunately the video is too large to load on this page but you can click this link and watch it on YouTube: http://youtu.be/akl9DBeVUIQ
- My boss, Oscar and work colleagues, Lawrence and Mash Letang. They have been so incredibly welcoming to me and I can not begin to thank them enough for that. In fact Lawrence, our finance guru worked this weekend cleaning up an office with an air conditioner for me. And Oscar, you are going to hear lots about Oscar in this blog. Envision this – a male Cheryl! When he enters the office it is like a vortex of activity has hit, his voice booms, his cell phone rings constantly, he moving from place to place and he is calling out for one or all of us. He is never still, or at least I haven’t seen it yet. I now call him the Big Boss or Master which makes him laugh. He is brilliant, kind, a gentleman, even more frank than me and a shit disturber. Like Botswana, having him as a boss is like a match made in heaven. We will be an incredible team along with Lawrence and Mash Letang and soon to be one other person. Civil society and government in Botswana won’t know what hit them when the A Team kicks into full action.
- The work that I will get to do, especially the gender equality work. I have always been thankful that I grew up in a country where women’s lives and access to education and work are more progressive than some other places in the world. Now I am in a country and a continent that sworn to take action on behalf of women and children to increase access to health care, education and protection from gender based violence. As a self identified feminist, former staff member of the Status of Women and long time human rights volunteer this work is incredibly important to me and I hope that I can make a difference for just one woman if at all possible. The importance of the work I am now doing hit home for this afternoon when I read this quote: ” Two pandemics threaten the health, lives and rights of women throughout the world: one is HIV & AIDS and the other is gender-based violence against women and girls. Violence against women and girls is a major contributor to death and illness among women, as well as social isolation, loss of economic productivity, and loss of personal freedom. Research confirms that violence, and particularly intimate partner violence, also is a leading factor in the increasing “feminization” of the global AIDS pandemic, resulting in disproportionately higher rates of HIV infection among women and girls. Simultaneously, evidence confirms HIV & AIDS as both a cause and a consequence of the gender-based violence, stigma and discrimination that women and girls face in their families and communities, in peace and in conflict settings, by state and non-state actors, and within and outside of intimate partnerships”. Please wear a purple ribbon for me on December 6th and do your share to prevent gender-based violence. I have never missed marking Dec 6th since it happened and this year I have already been invited to participate in a similar program here in Botswana in late November.
- And finally, the most important thing for which I am truly grateful – my incredible support system which includes far too many to personally name each one but you know exactly who you are. I am so thankful to have your love and that you support me no matter what crazy idea I am pursuing. My Mom told me yesterday on the phone that she thinks that I am the happiest that I have ever been and I agree with her. But that happiness doesn’t just come from being on this grand adventure in a wonderful country. It comes because of all of the love and support I know that I have and it is only a phone call or email away. I have spent a life time developing that support system and I haven’t always been that great at keeping in touch when I am off being independent which I do frequently. This time I now truly know the value of what I have and will never again take it for granted. Yes, Noelle as my oldest and best friend I have finally learned how to communicate just how much I love you and others! To those who are always there for me please know that even though half the world separates us you will always be right here with me. Ke a go rata – I love you!