Today was a road trip to Lobaste for a District Coalition meeting. BONASO is setting up district coalition across the country and that is the reason why I am getting to travel around so much. Today, Oscar is in Francistown so it was Lawrence, Masego and myself who drove to Lobaste, which is about 5 km from the South Africa border.
After a stressful start to the day at 6:30 am when Lawrence couldn’t find where I lived, I did the death walk across the highway…got to love doing it during morning rush hour…and uniting with my colleagues at the gas station we were off.
I had been part way down this road three weeks ago and it is indescribable how different the landscape now looks with green everywhere. As we were heading out of the city we were meeting a ton of traffic of which not everyone was staying on their side of the road. In fact, we often found ourselves heading for the shoulder as we were meeting two lanes of oncoming traffic on a two lane road. Fun times! Then if you factor in the need to slow down or stop all together as animals (cows, baboons, donkeys, goats) decided to saunter out in front of you as evidenced below.
After a successful meeting where excellent BONASO team work was demonstrated, we were invited to visit some service providers and their clients. This was an incredible experience. The first woman we visited was a widow with nine children (the youngest was just six weeks old). She was living in one tiny room in a house with no electricity, water or anything! All she had was one single blanket on the floor on which she was lying nursing her child with four of her other children around her. This room was being provided to her out of generosity by a neighbour. However, there is no telling how long that she will be able to stay there. Should things change for the other residents of the house who are really no better off than her, she and her children will be without anything or anywhere to go. Unlike Canada, there is no social housing here in Botswana so there is really no where for her and her family to go.
The next visit was to another house where again the community generosity shone. A gentleman also took in vulnerable people to live with him. We met a disable HIV positive man whose only request is that someone help him start his own tuck shop so he could support himself! This man volunteers his time to educate others about HIV testing, prevention and whatever. He is very disabled but he is determined to find a way to support himself. Although everything in the system appears to be against him, I somehow feel he will find a way to succeed somehow. It is for these people that I am here working and it is them I have to think of in those moments when I am feeling most overwhelmed. I know that I can at least contribute in some way to help improve their lives.
Our final stop was at a pre-school and after school program. Both Masego and I could have stayed for hours with the children. We were shown the kitchen where a combination of volunteers and employees prepare an after school meal for the children. In many cases these is the only meal that they get. Yet look at these faces!
I am going to finish today’s post with two final pictures of houses that Nelson Mandela stayed in to escape persecution. Today I was humbled by who and what I saw this afternoon. I hope that you are too –