I was very poor at the end of this last month. One of the things I really admire about the Peace Corps is the mandate to live like a local. (see this article). I’m glad we get paid so little. I could do with less. I certainly believe that it is good for the soul to have financial hardships. According to my taxes, I have been below the poverty line for the past six years (Shout out to President Obama for the nice ‘economic boost’ this last tax season, it was very much needed). I have had financial problems and debt concerns but at the very end of the day, I am ok. I have what I need, my basics are covered and I have some very good people that will be there for me when I truly cannot make it (which has happened before). And even in the Peace Corps, when it looks dismal to try and live off of USD 50 for two weeks, I know I will be ok. I’m not trying to say some life-altering epiphany I have had about poverty. I guess I’m trying to recognize my own pretentiousness in my claims about being poor. While I believe there are good life lessons to learn from having very little and being forced to scrimp and save (didn’t my parents say that those first 10 years when they had five kids and barely anything to live off of were their best years?), I do know that I’ve not experienced poverty, only the state of just being so so poor.
I’ve been working on something new recently. It is not a mystery that people living with HIV face a lot of challenges. ARVs, although life-saving, can be very hard on the body. There are a host of harsh long-term effects caused by a life-long regime of taking ARVs. In Botswana, there is a whole slew of children born to HIV+ mothers before the advent of Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) treatment and were subsequently born with HIV. Those children are now coming to be teenagers. There is a decided gap in services when it comes to supporting those now teens with HIV. Support to continue adhering to their strict drug regime, support to make responsible lifestyle choices and support to not be ashamed. To live freely with being positive. The clinic and the social work office has teamed up to try and address the lack of services. Our thoughts, so far, are to create a peer support network for teens living with HIV. We are still in the planning stages. But its a project I am very excited about! There is a model that has been used in many parts of Botswana called ‘Teen Club.’ It is sponsored by the Botswana-Baylor Clinic Center of Excellence. It’s a pretty impressive model. Look it up www.botswanateenclub.wordpress.com
I decided to apply for graduate programs before the January deadline. I overdosed on grad searching this week and I am feeling a bit overwhelmed. I vacillate between feelings very confident to feeling completely under qualified. Do you think members of admission committees look at prospective candidate’s blogs? I’m the only Sydney Lambson out there, and I am very easy to find.
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