I truly believe in community. Truly, I do. One of the challenges I am facing is differentiating myself between the previous volunteers before me. While our mission is the same, the way they set out to accomplish this is different then how I plan on addressing the same issues in Nata. I am strong support of community mobilization and organization, believing that we must work from within, rather then supplying from the outside. And these are basic step of development, right? Community empowerment… teach a man to fish. Right? But it is so easy to get something done by yourself, rather then nag and pull others to do it with you, or it seems it would be easy for me to fund raise from my friends in the states rather than come up with the money from this side of the equator.
I am on a search for the community of Nata. I have started interviewing, doing villager profiles of a random assortment of community members. It’s going well. And it’s getting me really excited to build projects. There is a young, educated man here in Nata. He is in between some things and he happens to have time on his side. So I take him around with me as I do my interviews. He acts as my translator/community liaison. I tried doing it by myself, but even if they did understand my English there was a certain level of discomfort on my part and on the part of the interviewee. Taking him along with me has been a really good decision. Those I interview are on ease and I find myself less afraid of other’s reactions. One thing that I am struggling with is perception of time. I am so very time conscious, and things are much different in Botswana. It’s hard to let go of my time anxieties and embrace the ambiguity of Africa time. But my translator is certainly helping me.
As part of my search for the community, I conducted a participatory analysis session among a class of 15-16 year olds. Peace Corps advocates these PACA tools (Participatory Analysis for Community Action) for conduction community analysis. These tools include, seasonal calendar, daily schedule and community mapping. I had this classroom map their Nata and tell me about the resources available and their favorite places. It went well and students that age are so full of life, it’s inspiring.
This past Sunday I went on a drive with my friend and we saw these beautiful creatures out in the wild. It was incredible. Apparently, if you travel on the road another 250-300 km you will see lots of elephants, giraffe, and zebras .Zebras! Oh and Peter… I haven’t seen a baboon yet.