Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Botswana Farewell, Final Words

Dusty Roads, a la Botswana.  
A song we "wrote" and sang for the families who hosted the volunteers of our group during our training in Kanye:

Legodimo, South Botswana,
Kalahadi, great gray green Limpopo
Life is old there, older than the bush
Younger than the desert, hotter than bogobe mush

Dusty roads, take me home
To the motse I belong to.
South Botswana, Kanye mama
Take me home, dusty roads.

All my mem'ries wrapped around her
Miner's mosadi, stranger from the Delta
Never rains there, sun's always in the sky.
Misty taste of chibuku, teardrop in my eye.

I hear the pula, in the morning mist it's calling me,
The radio reminds me of my Kgotla far away.
I think about the LCFs and all the lessons learned
and the ones I should have learned, for the LPI.

***Note:  Several Setswana words:  Legodimo means Heaven, Kalahadi is the Kalahari Desert.  Bogobe is sorghum porridge, a staple of Botswana cuisine.  Motse means village and mosadi means woman, lady or wife.  Chibuku is a traditional beer. Pula means rain, and is also the name of the national currency.  As an exclamation, it means "Good Luck!" Kgotla refers to the place where the traditional chief conducts business.  The LCFs were our language and cultural facilitators, and LPI is the dreaded "Language Proficiency Interview."


And finally, our goodbye letter to our volunteer group.

Dear Awesome Bots11,

It is with great sadness that we write to inform you that we are the ones to break our otherwise perfect record of service and will be leaving the Peace Corps and Botswana. Words are not sufficient to tell you how incredible it has been to be part of one of the most amazing groups of Peace Corps Volunteers ever.  No other group that we have heard of has continued so far in service without a loss.

There are many reasons that led to our decision. Above all, our placement at Goodhope Senior Secondary is not tenable. GHSS has three full-time guidance teachers who are skilled, care about our students and teach life skills.  They have not asked, nor do they need, us to build their capacity. There are approximately 150 academic teachers here whose main goal is to prepare students to pass their BGCSE. There is little/no incentive for them to add to or divert from this goal, particularly as GHSS has recently dropped from 5th to 12th place in the country and the overall pass rate is quite low. It is difficult for the teachers to see the value of infusing life skills when there are three competent teachers already doing that.

We have also experienced serious problems working with our counterpart, as we know many of you have with yours. Additionally, we live on this very large campus which is a micro-community of teachers and their families who leave on weekends and holidays for the villages they regard as home. Because the village of Goodhope is some distance from the school, significant work there has not been feasible. That in itself would be a full time job.

As we leave Botswana, we will take with us memories of you all, your strength, joy and commitment to service. Memories too of the beautiful smiles of the Batswana, friends and strangers alike; the incredible African skies with spectacular sunrises and sunsets; the vastness and peacefulness of the bush, crazy overflowing combi rides, and much more.

We love the Peace Corps. We believe it is the most noble attempt ever made by any country to reach out to other peoples and other nations. Like every organization and institution, it is not perfect. We are sad that our experience at GHSS has not been the service we hoped it would be.  We leave with full hearts and no regrets.

With much gratitude,
John and Carol

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