Progress

Yesterday was a historic day!

An international convention enters into effect on Thursday that could eventually extend labour rights to as many as 100 million domestic workers across the globe, a constituency that has historically been bypassed by national laws.

The new Domestic Workers Convention, a binding agreement passed under the auspices of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in 2011, has thus far been ratified by nine countries. Those governments will now be tasked with ensuring that their national labour legislation both extends to domestic workers and ensures those workers a decent work environment.

 Such positions include maids, nannies, in-house cooks, caregivers and other labour in private homes – workers that have long been considered to be among the most exploited anywhere in the world. Proponents are not only lauding the convention’s specifics but also suggesting that the accord will do much to solidify the social and official understanding of domestic work as on par with any other employment.”  The full press release can be found at http://www.ipsnews.net/2013/09/domestic-workers-emerge-from-the-shadows/

While these conventions do not automatically guarantee rights or better treatment for the millions of domestic workers who have been traditionally a very marginalized group; it does give them a better platform on which to raise the significant issues that they face. One can hope that more than the current nine countries (Bolivia, Germany, Italy, Mauritius, Nicaragua, Paraguay, the Philippines, South Africa and Uruguay) will ratify this convention and begin to accord this sector with appropriate labour laws and protection from abuse.

For today, I am simply happy to know that finally this sector of vulnerable workers have achieved some degree of recognition and support. The fight for basic human rights must start somewhere and this at least is a significant step forward!

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Boundaries

One of the things that I am most looking forward to with being back in Canada is the return of personal space boundaries. Or at least ones that are marginally more like I am use to!

Although I absolutely love living in Africa, one of the things that has been the most challenging for me is the incredible lack of personal space.  For a vast country and continent which has ample space for all, the notion of personal space is almost nonexistent. While I am incredibly lucky living at Peter’s Place where I have all of the privacy and space that I could want, as soon as I step outside of the gates it all evaporates.

The moment you crawl inside a combi or bus, enter a store, walk in public or god forbid enter a public restroom the facade of personal space disappears completely. There is no possible way to describe just how little regard there is for anyone’s personal space, not just foreigners. In a combi or bus you are literally crawling over the top of others or vice versa. When trying to steady yourself you will grab a hold of what ever you can and should it happen to be a body part, no big deal.

Then there is the actual groping that takes place. I am now refusing to travel on buses because I am simply tired of having body parts groped that I didn’t even know that I had! The first time you could laugh off, the second and beyond it just isn’t funny anymore.

Shopping takes it to a whole new level and it is just isn’t other shoppers blocking aisles or cutting into line ups but the employees are equally guilty. They completely block aisles with their bodies, merchandise and other various sundries. Sometimes you have no choice but to simply turn around and go a long way around. Saying excuse me politely just falls on deaf ears. In fact, you quickly learn to not even bother.

And don’t make me even talk about using public restrooms again. I am sure that I have talked about that enough in this blog. Doors open and full on conversation, need I say more? Thought not 🙂

All of my life I have valued my personal space and I didn’t realize just how much until living here in Africa. Although I have also learned that I have much more open boundaries than I ever considered possible. It is all part of living somewhere new and challenging. When being immersed in a totally new and different culture, you learn what you can live with and what you can’t. I feel like my personal adapting skills have definitely improved in my year in Botswana.

I discover this interesting article the other day on the CBC website http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2013/08/28/bc-personal-space-closeness.html  It certainly made me feel better that I had even been grappling with this cultural adaptation. It seems that I am pretty normal after all.

Tell me, what are your personal space boundaries? Could you live in Africa?

Finding culture in Molepolole

Molepolole is the largest village in Botswana and is located about 50 kms west of Gabs in the South East district of Kweneng. It is known as the home of the Bakwena tribe. And yesterday it was the site of the Dithubaruba Cultural Festival which is held to promote the understanding and appreciation of Kweneng cultural heritage.

The cultural festival included a full line of activities ranging from traditional song and dance (mmino le dipina tsa setso), a traditional harvest festival (dikgafela), poetry (lobebe lwa poko), traditional games and riddles (metshameko ya setso) and Setapa (tribal dancing) until the early hours of Sunday . The actual site of the festival in Molepolole was the   Kwa-ga-Makgosi or ko Ntsweng (Ntsweng Heritage Site).

Buche was conscripted to transport Sheila and I to and from the festival which was about an hour’s drive either way. Let’s just say that for once given the distance and my recent teasing of Buche, he and Sheila took full advantage of having me in a confined space to inflict some reciprocal teasing torture 🙂 Their favorite topic was to taunt me into trying to pronounce the local village names as we passed through and then make fun of my pronunciation. Fortunately I am far more stubborn than either one of them and I refused to participate.

One of the great things about traveling with Buche is his knowledge of local areas, culture, history and facts. The man is like a walking cultural encyclopedia. And he is only to happy to answer my fifty thousand questions about everything. So other than pretending deafness to teasing taunts it was an incredibly enjoyable trip to and from Molepolole.

We arrive at the cultural festival mid-day after a couple of stops in Gaborone to accomplish some tasks. Just as we were being dropped off by our chauffeur the traditional harvest festival was beginning. As a Canadian, harvest festivals, primarily thanksgiving are important celebrations which are held in the fall. Seeing a spring harvest festival was definitely a new adventure for me.

The ladies dressed in their traditional outfits preparing to begin the Harvest Festival
The ladies dressed in their traditional outfits preparing to begin the Harvest Festival
Beginning the festivities
Beginning the festivities

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During the dance Sheila and I decided to try to find a seat so that we could sit and enjoy the celebrations. As it turned out the only seats readily available were in the VIP tent. Deciding that we qualified as VIPs in our own minds if nobody else’s, we nonchalantly strolled over and claimed two front row chairs from which to enjoy the dance! Golly aren’t we?

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I wish that I had the balance to carry pots on my head!
I wish that I had the balance to carry pots on my head!
The District Elders graciously sharing their seats with us
The District Elders graciously sharing their seats with us

Although it was easy for anyone in the VIP tent to discern that we really didn’t belong there, not one person chased us out or made us feel unwelcome. In fact, I was the recipient of many smiles and welcomes. Talk about hospitality.

Following the hour long harvest celebration we were then treated to incredible musical performances by local musicians who literally had everyone cheering, dancing and thoroughly enjoying their performances.

A local musician
A local musician

I loved this performer! So did everyone else – he literally brought almost everyone to their feet

Happy fans!
Happy fans!

I was so tempted to go join these captivated dancers but decided that I was better off keeping my VIP seat which gave me a front row seat and protect from the sun and wind.

Tiny dancers
Tiny dancers

It was a true miracle that I stayed seated because every where I looked there was some one dancing enthusiastically to the excellent music. I particularly loved watching this elder relish the music

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He was soon joined by the most charismatic woman in danceIMG_1716

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These two incredibly energetic dancers outlasted two different performers. And the urge to dance was definitely contagious

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The final performer for this section of the program was certainly playing a unique instrument and had an equally compelling voice.

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Following these musical performances it was time for the VIPs sans Sheila and Cheryl to exit the VIP tent and head for the tent where they were being feed traditional foods for lunch. For everyone else it was time to line up at the traditional cook area for their plates of traditional food.

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During the lunch break Sheila and I took the opportunity to explore the many stalls set up containing local art and crafts.

Local pottery decorated with pumpkin seeds
Local pottery decorated with pumpkin seeds

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The art displays were great showing just how much local talent there really is. This really was a cultural festival displaying remarkable musical talent, dancing, arts, crafts and without a doubt incredible fashion every where you looked. Both Sheila and I saw at least a dozen different dresses made in traditional styles in German print that we wanted. Even the men got into the fashion fun of the day.

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Don't you love his tail?
Don’t you love his tail?

Following the lunch break it time for the festivities to begin again with traditional chanting and dancing

More traditional dancing
More traditional dancing

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Soon it was time to say goodbye and return to Gabs having thoroughly enjoyed the portion of the Dithubaruba Cultural Festival that we attended.

The Saint’s Blood pressure and me

Well I have finally done it! I have pushed the Saint beyond his limits. But it was so much fun!

What have I done now to the Saint?

I tread where others fear to go…..an African father’s view on his daughter’s love life.

What this adventure confirmed for me that fathers are the same around the world.

Yesterday I was teasing the father/daughter Buche duo about how alike they really are. For the past few weeks, I have been threatening Buche with enrolling him in my friend Erin’s yoga class so that he can learn the benefits of deep breathing and patience. While I sincerely believe that he saves his road rants especially for me it is equally fun to make him practice deep breathing while we are driving. I just love to torment the man, sorry Mom I know I promised not too.

Well, yesterday I discovered that his daughter had a lot more in common with her father than I realized. We had arranged to meet and I must have received five text messages from her pre-our arrival to meet her. The last one coming just as we were pulling in the parking lot to which her father told me to not respond to her. So Nancy inherited her un-Saint like lack of patience from her father, as her mother is one of the nicest most serene women I know.

As the trouble maker that I am, I couldn’t resist having fun teasing both of them. And boy was it fun 🙂

But I really struck gold when Nancy and I were talking about her impending weekend trip to Kasane with a girlfriend – she is getting to stay at my favorite resort, the Mowana. I, of course had to give her the names of some of my male friends in the area. Then I explained to her father how they were all nice young men who would love to take his beautiful daughter out on a date. Pay dirt!!!!!

It seems that Saint Papa prefers for his little girl to stay a little girl for just a while longer. While Nancy giggled and absorbed her father’s reactions, I worked poor Buche into such a lather until he firmly declared that if his twenty year old daughter was going to start dating now, he was going to move to his house in the village. End of story! No, actually the Saint’s last word was that she would be only allowed to date and consider getting married once she turns 25.

All in all, it was amazingly entertaining time. I didn’t know that I could get his blood pressure to rise so high. Now I know for certain that he is counting down the days until he delivers me to the airport even though he declares not. But who could blame him? 😉

 

A day on the Gabs waterfront

Gaborone Waterfront
Gaborone Waterfront

For living in a totally land locked country and being a water lover, I seem to have the inordinate luck of spending lots of quality time along side of bodies of water here in Botswana.

Saturday was one of those days were I spent pretty much the whole day and evening at Gaborone’s waterfront. Although whether you can entirely describe it as a waterfront or not is open for debate.

A couple of weeks ago, Erin informed Sheila and I that there was going to be an African Market on the Gaborone waterfront. My initial response was great! but does Gaborone have a waterfront and where is it? Not even Buche had heard of an area in Gabs called the waterfront.

Being a professional taxi driver you would think that he would immediately know where it was and how to get there. After all makes a living driving confused foreigners around Gabs. In fact his rather dry reply to my query about the location of the waterfront netted this response from Buche, “you are always on the go, know everybody and find out about events and places I have never heard of”. Gee, thanks Buche! I think?

So with both my curiosity peaked and my competitive nature setting in so that I could discover exactly where the waterfront in question was before Buche, I set out to beat the Saint Buche in uncovering the location. Fortunately, my friend Erin made it painfully easy for me but gave me lots of opportunity to lord it over Buche 🙂 She was able to forward me this poster advertising the event which provide the exact location of our destination.

african_marketplace_fb (1)So having beat the Saint in figuring out the exact location I got very excited about visiting the waterfront and the African market. However there was a slight moment of trepidation following our conversation on Friday afternoon as the waterfront looked to be smack dab in the middle of “crazy” cow country. But after a moment rational thought took over and I felt confident that as a long resident on a dairy farm I could confidently handle a “crazy” cow if I needed to.

So bright and early Saturday morning Buche came to pick me up to deliver me to the Bojanala Water Front and the African market. Might I also add that he was also the recipient of homemade blueberry muffins which were suppose to be his family’s snack for Church on Sunday. Although later in the day when I saw him, I found out that the muffins had no chance of making it to church as all family members had rapidly consumed them. At least the Saint had actually shared them with his wife and daughter or he would have been in big trouble.

Now back to the waterfront….as we drove into the bush as Buche calls it…something that we do argue about. He defines the bush as no city lights or noise. I define the bush as remote, wild and full of wild animals, “crazy” cows don’t count 🙂

As we drove past Sanitas, the garden center and restaurant that I frequent as sense of excitement grew. I always loving discovering new places, especially ones on the water. However, I was slightly disappointed once I actually arrived. Just like it is pictured above the waterfront is simply a man made body of water that is so closely located to Riverwalk Mall as the crow flies you really can’t call it either bush or waterfront.

However the African Market was far from disappointing.

Welcome to the African Market
Welcome to the African Market

It was jammed packed with fantastic stalls featuring colourful African art, clothing, footwear, various and sundry other items. And of course, yummy food and produce. Better yet it was an enjoyable time spent with my girlfriends with everyone making at least one purchase. Do you like Sheila’s new shoes?

Sheila's funky African shoes
Sheila’s funky  new African shoes
Do you suppose a metal giraffe or zebra would fit in my luggage????
Do you suppose a metal giraffe or zebra would fit in my luggage????
There was lots of great music
There was lots of great music

I am happy to admit that the kids weren’t the only ones dancing to the musical entertainment. Did you really think that I could hear great music and not shake my booty?

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There was even a wonderful cultural display set up describing the initiation of young women in Southern African cultures.

A traditional Southern African dress
A traditional Southern African dress and headdress
A more contemporary dress - I wondered if I could sneak away with it
A more contemporary dress – I wondered if I could sneak away with it because I love it!
A very modern dress with traditional beadwork and button work
A very modern dress with traditional beadwork and button work
up close view
up close view of the bead work

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Besides the great displays and stalls full of jewelry, art, pottery, and clothing, there was also yummy food and fresh produce for sale.

They were also hard at work preparing seswaa, a very popular traditional meat dish made for most special occasions. The stew is made by boiling meat with onion and pepper. It is cooked in a three-legged iron pot, simmered until soft. The meat stew is served over thick polenta or pap.

Perparing seswaa
preparing seswaa

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Oh, and not to be forgotten, evidence that the “crazy” cows had passed through

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The lovely girl time continued after leaving the waterfront when we went to Sanitas for lunch. Erin and I concluded the day by going to the Gaborone Dam to watch the sunset and spend the evening dancing there outside under the stars. All in all a truly lovely day on by the water in Gabs.

Buche’s crazy cow story

Well, the Saint has done it again!

The man never ceases to amaze me in many ways and when you have almost daily contact with someone for a year you really get to know them well….yet, he can still surprise me!

Today we were making our regular trip to Riverwalk Mall on a Friday afternoon. I like to spend a couple of hours at this mall every few weeks as it has three major grocery stores (Pick n Pay; Super Spar; and a Woolies). All which carry different items that I like. Plus the mall has my hairdresser, a fantastic book and magazine store and other great shops I occasionally visit. I also love having Buche take me there and pick me up as it gives me a chance to purchase heavy grocery items which I don’t have to lug across Death Highway’s four lanes of speeding traffic.

Like any trip with Buche and I, you can only wish to be a passenger in the back seat to enjoy the hilarious conversations that we have. Today proved once again that I really do need my own reality tv show and camera crew following me around. I am sure that I could hit ratings gold with my own show as I simply end up in situations and conversations that no one else ever seems to have the privilege of.

As we took our regular route to Riverwalk which is a back road shortcut which takes you through a non-developed area which is on the fringe of the Village of Tlokweng. As this land is comprised mostly of open spaces containing some grasslands and shrubs, it is a frequent hangout of cows, bulls, donkeys and goats all roaming free in search of grass to graze on.

An example of wandering road warriors
An example of wandering road warriors

I always love seeing the cows as the dairy princess in me refuses to die 😉 So today when we were about half way through that stretch of road, I noted that there weren’t any cows visible. Well, I couldn’t have triggered a funnier conversation….

Buche’s explanation for the missing cows was an amazing fact that I have not heard in my year here in Gaborone.

It is a natural part of life here in Gabs to have all manner of livestock wandering the streets, alleys and parking lots of downtown Gaborone. I frequently have to navigate through roaming livestock on my way home from Game City Mall while carrying groceries.

Due to this country being mostly desert and the lack of rainfall, livestock are regularly set free by their owners to roam and graze keeping themselves alive on what ever they can find to eat. This particular stretch of road and area is often a favorite grazing spot and it is not uncommon to see large herds of cattle on the side of the road or crossing nonchalantly in front of you.

With the distinct lack of presence of them today, Buche informed me that sometimes the cows act “crazy” and need to be rounded up by certain people in the nearby village of Tlokweng. Okay, first no matter how hard I tried to get him to explain what he meant by “crazy” I couldn’t get a clear explanation! I can only picture some cows drunk off of the many abandoned alcohol bottles littering the landscape across Gaborone after  each weekend. Or perhaps, like me they are out dancing around kicking a cloud of dust with their dancing antics.

Clearly, he couldn’t be referring to mad cow disease…..,

So eventually I moved on from giggling and trying to get him to explain “crazy cows” to where do you actually take a crazy cow? IMG_0864

This was more easily explained. Apparently there are people in the village of Tlokweng ( a world all of its own I think) that actually fence in a small area and then go on the hunt for cattle who are roaming and acting “crazy”. Apparently the acting crazy bit is the key to all of this as somehow those cows are more of a nuisance and need to be taken off the streets. Are we talking cows or street kids here????

Once crazy cows are identified, they are walked to the enclosures where they are sized up for their beef content. Now this where Buche was very clear. While the rescuers (or thieves) of these cows are eyeing them up for a nice meal or two, their – up to this point inattentive owners – suddenly appear out of nowhere to claim them back. Apparently cow owners here in Gabs have psychic powers and know exactly when their cows have been kidnapped for being crazy! Okay, those are my words, not Buche’s. And would actually be fun to around when the face off over the ownership of the crazy cows take place 🙂

So there is your glimpse into just a tiny portion of my conversation with Buche today…you really need to plant a bug on us so you too can enjoy our wild and wacky but totally serious conversations too.

 

 

Buche and Cheryl tourist day out

With my final weeks ticking down before I leave Gaborone and Botswana to return to life as I know it in Canada, I am doing all that I can to make the most of my remaining time.

Today, I got to have a perfect day out with Buche. A couple of weeks ago Buche and I were discussing my leaving. During our conversation I told him that although I have seen a large majority of the country, I have not been so good about exploring closer to home. He quickly rhymed off a long list of places surrounding Gaborone that I could only tell him that I hadn’t visited.

So I issued him a challenge – when he was able to arrange his schedule I wanted him to take me out for a sightseeing tour. Not so much of challenge you might say but of course I complicated it. No visiting any tourist sites that he normally takes anyone else! I wanted him to take me somewhere special that he truly wanted me to see as an important part of Botswana.

All I can say is that he certainly didn’t disappoint me and we truly had the perfect outing!

Where did he take me? Well, the list included a few places.

The first destination on our itinerary was the village of Manyana

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Outskirts of the village of Manyana

The village of Manyana is located about an hour south west of Gaborone. It is famous for being the home of rock paintings which date back over 2000 years.

Finding the site was a little bit of a challenge however! Along our drive Buche, ever the gentleman, spied an older woman by the side of the road looking for a drive. He stopped and picked her up as she was heading towards the village of Manyana too to attend a funeral. During the twenty minute drive the rest of the way to the village, I am happy to note that I completely behaved myself and didn’t embarrass Buche even once 🙂

Once we arrived in the village, Buche stopped to ask directions….I know! Amazing! And he actually stopped and asked directions a few different times. I made sure to tell him on our way home that men in North America seldom ever stop and ask for directions. He was completely surprised and wondered how anyone found where they were going? Oh, the culturally differences.

Back to our adventure, following our first set of directions Buche easily found the base of the hill we were heading for and where our guest needed to be dropped off coincidentally. Saying goodbye to her, Buche then asked for directions again to ensure that we found the entrance to the heritage site.

Following this set of directions we set off down a clay and sand track around the base of the hill.

Our road
Our road

We soon saw some farmers harvesting their crops

Harvesting cabbages
Harvesting cabbages

As we continued down the track, Buche began to seriously question if we were heading in the right direction. Stopping again when we came across a goat herder and his feisty adorable herd, it was time to ask directions again! and of course Buche’s instinct was right on. We had been given bad directions.

So we turned around and headed back the way that we came with me still thoroughly enjoying the view. Although we were soon caught up in a traffic jam as we got back to the outskirts of the village…

Who has the right of way?
Who has the right of way? I think the horns win….

It soon became apparent that our ultimate destination was closer than we thought. Had we simply turned left exactly where we had dropped off our former passenger we would have been right where we needed to be. Fortunately, Buche’s perseverance paid off and we arrived at our destination.

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The site of the rock paintings is a 8 meter high rock. The paintings are spread out over five separate areas of the rock cliff face. On site is a government guide whose job it is to protect the heritage site and provide you with a guided historical tour of the site. Honestly, without the guide you would never have been able to find the rock paintings on your own as they are so faint and far apart.

However, the guide we had was so incredible at his job. He proudly informed us that these paintings were done by Bushmen over 2000 years ago as they migrated through the area hunting. Part of the ceremony after a good hunting kill was an elaborate ritual involving the spiritual leader and the men of the tribe. As the spiritual leader entered into a trance and the men danced visions would come to him which he described. Part of the visions resulted in the creation of the paintings using a combination of minerals, animal blood and rocks.

The first paintings he showed us – Buche was seeing them for the first time too! – was a painting of an antelope. See if you can pick it out in the photo

2000 year old Rock painting of an antelope
2000 year old Rock painting of an antelope

Close by was another far more visible painting whose symbolism we were told still had not been identified by experts.

Look for the distinctive black dots
Look for the distinctive black dots

The next hour was spent climbing around the rock face visiting all of the painting sites and learning the history of the rocks and caves.

Can you see the giraffes?
Can you see the giraffes?
Stick man
Stick man
Another stick man who is really well-endowed!
Another stick man who is really well-endowed!

The guide quizzed me on this stick figure asking me if I thought it was female or male? He was proud to show me that African men were really well endowed even 2000 years ago – or at least in their imagination they were.

Entrance to a cave
Entrance to a cave

This is the entrance to what is called Mma Kgosi cave, a histrocial site thought to be the cave where the Kwena Queen mother hid during the battle of Dimawe  in 1852 while her husband and tribesmen fought against the Boers. Getting into these caves is definitely a tight squeeze and you are not allowed to enter for preservation reasons. I was glad that I didn’t have to go in!

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Gemsboke painting
More rock paintings
More men!
More men!
Hunter carrying his kill
Hunter carrying his kill
A whole herd
A whole herd
View from half-way up the rock face
View from half-way up the rock face

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Once I made it safely back to flat ground with the assistance of Buche and waving good bye to the crowd of Rock Dassies who live on the rock but are too shy to be photographed, the guide joined us in Buche’s car to make the trip to another interesting site. A tree.

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This enormous fig tree is now a protected heritage site because it was the historical site of where David Livingstone converted local tribes to Christianity and practiced western medicine. As I told you about in December when I visited Zanzibar, Livingstone was a medical missionary who also worked tirelessly to abolish slavery in Africa.

Under this very tree, Livingstone preached to convert locals to Christianity while he also doled out western medicines. I loved this tree and could have happily moved into it

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What a tree! Buche looks so tiny standing next to it. 

After leaving Manyana, Buche continued our driving tour of Western Bots, we drove through the entire western districts on our way back to Gaborone. But Buche had one more surprise up his sleeve. 

A visit to the famous village of Gabane, which is known for its pottery. Let’s just say that I love pottery and Buche proved exactly how patient he truly is as he patiently roamed the shop with me as I picked out my purchases and asked a million questions. We even got the chance to visit the back rooms and watch the pottery makers in action. 

Pottery making in Gabane
Pottery making in Gabane

So Buche earns a gold star! He not only rose to my challenge, he absolutely exceeded it. Since he did so well, I have now challenged him to do it again, only better! I bet he can. What do you think?

It is Fringe Time!

It is Fringe Festival time on PEI. So there will be lots of great theater to take in this coming weekend. And I can highly recommend one of the plays in particular.

Labrador mat

While I am still firmly ensconced in Botswana enjoying my final weeks in Africa (for now) and tormenting Buche, it is show time for my Mom and her production of “I Am What I Am”.

Her award winning play is based on the true story of Lydia Brooks Blake Campbell, a Metis woman from Labrador in the 1800’s.  The play is a wonderful one woman show in which Lydia, played by Marisa Boudreault, tells her story in her own words. It is a brilliant piece of play writing if you ask me. My absolute favorite of the plays that my mom, Marjorie Hooper Dalziel has written…and there have been a few. 

This play is also featuring a very special touch – the very godlike voice of my friend, Mike Wedge, who truly does think he is God sometimes.  No doubt he will have a very swelled head after this weekend as he becomes a shining star for providing the voice of the Deer God. Let’s hope that fame doesn’t ruin him 😉

You can catch performances of “I Am What I Am” during the Island Fringe Festival running August 29 to 31 in downtown Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.  Performances  will be Thursday, August 29th @ 6pm; Friday, August 30th @ 5pm and Saturday, August 31st @ 3:30pm. All performances will take place at Confederation Landing alongside the water.  So you can grab a Cow’s Ice Cream and enjoy the show!

Additional information about the Fringe Festival is available at  http://www.islandfringe.com/

I hope that some of you will take in the performances and cheer extra loud so that it will seem like I am there!

Happy Fringe Festival!

 

 

A Success Story

As I began my African journey a year ago, one of the most important goal I had hoped to achieve was to help make a positive difference in at least one woman’s life here in Botswana.

I am really happy to announce mission accomplished!

For those of you who have been reading my blog for a while, you will be familiar with Sadie. Sadie was the cleaner at BONASO who showed incredible promise and desire to improve her opportunities in life. For many months I spent my lunch hour with Sadie giving her assignments, correcting homework and teaching her so that she could learn how to become a receptionist.

As a cleaner, she earns (when her boss decides to pay her which is not a given) the grand total of 800 pula a month (the grand total of $100 Canadian dollars) on which she supports herself and 8 year old son. As a receptionist, she will have the chance to earn up to 2,000 or 2,5000 Pula a month (up to $300 Canadian). And hopefully work for a boss who actually pays her salary every month. 

For the past four months she has shown the personal commitment to come to my apartment once a week for intensive tutoring and recently she successfully completed her certificate in Office Management Training and Skill Acquisition. Here she is proudly displaying her brand new certificate which we are getting framed!

Sadie and her certificate
Sadie and her certificate

 

I am so proud of her and her dedication to improve not only her life but that of her son as well. He is a handsome young man who shows that he is just as smart as his mom. Sadie worked incredibly hard to achieve this certificate and I am so happy that I could help her in this small way.

Being her cheerleader and supporting her learning has given me a true feeling of accomplishment. While I may have developed even stronger opinions than I came with about the many negative impacts of development work, Sadie’s success can not be ignored.

Had I not been here in Botswana and working in the same place as her, Sadie would never have achieved this certification. So that makes my time here in Botswana a success for both Sadie and me!

 

A Silly African Game

Impala poop contest

During my last day on Safari in the Delta we were instructed in a common game here in Botswana – Impala Poop Spitting! 

Yes, you read that correctly!!!!

Impala Poop Spitting

Impala poop consists of tiny perfectly formed round balls. Which apparently are perfect for spitting. Why anyone would want to is totally beyond me. But apparently as they only consist of digested grass it is not unhygienic to actually handle the poo balls and putting them in your mouth is not an issue……ya, right!

All judgments aside here is a pictorial primer on how to play the “Impala Poop Spitting” game:

As Bale demonstrates in the photo above, you take an impala poop ball and either place it between your lips. Pursing your lips to hold it in place and then you blow it up and out as far as you can. Or you can place it directly on your tongue (yuck!!!) and use a combination of your tongue and blowing to launch the poop ball as far as you can.

Where did it land?
Demonstrating techniques

Once you have successfully launched the poop missile, it is then necessary to keep a close watch to determine where the tiny ball of poop actually lands.

Where did it land?
Where did it land?

So once the demonstration was concluded it was time to begin the contest. Let’s just say that not all of us were stupid enough to participate 🙂 but there were several takers.

First up was Dave, an Australian Bio-chemical engineer who currently lives on a tiny Russian island. He proved to have excellent technique and actually outperformed Bale.

Dave's impala poop technique
Dave’s impressive impala poop technique

My, what poop spitting form!

not impressed

So then the challenge was on! Beat that distance anyone? Dave’s wife stand next to him decided to hold on to her poop balls and not participate. However, ……

My travel mate, Risa decided to rise to the challenge

Risa getting ready

After so serious coaching from Bale, she was ready for her first attempt

Giving new meaning to deep breathing
Are you sure I won’t swallow it?

 

Risa way to go

Way to go Risa!

 

But the undisputed winner was Dave with him impressive technique and distance. Although he was firmly informed by his wife that there would be absolutely no kissing until his lips and mouth were thoroughly disinfected.  So much for their romantic safari getaway 😉

I actually consider myself a winner as well because I was smart enough not participate. For once I simply enjoyed a spectator role even though Bale and PD threatened to send me back to camp in another safari truck or on foot because I wouldn’t play. Let me tell you, I have handled my share of poop during my life time. My African adventures didn’t need impala poop spitting to make them complete 🙂