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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Gaborone, Botswana: Botswana burning…..Not quite…. it’s only our rubbish pile

I got to the centre this morning and the first thing out of Sepho’s mouth was a very surprised “Mama Sandra!!!” They’ve never seen me in jeans and a T-shirt going to work so their surprise was genuine. I even walked with my shovel and rake from Kathy’s. Thandi and I got started with the raking and pretty soon, several of the kids joined in. We had a crew of about 11 including me and we cleaned much more than I intended to do. We raked and separated garbage from leaves and started the burning pile. They were wanting to rake everything into the fire but I made them separate out the plastic and aluminium cans for the trash (they do little or no recycling here) and the rest of it we burned.

We pruned trees, stacked bricks, separated stones and generally cleaned up the place. By the time we were finished, I’m sure the smell emanating from us was not too pleasant because Mitho kept telling us that we should have a shower. After the third time, I got a ride home with Thandi and had a nice shower. I even realized that I smelled like a smoke stack. After that I went to the travel agent to pay for my tickets and took a combi back to the centre. When I walked in this time – dressed the way I usually am – there were cheers and hollers.

Mitho said that she felt bad for us because we looked so dusty and that’s why she was insisting that we have a shower. She said that I looked so “blue collar” this morning – far removed from the business attire that they are accustomed to seeing me in. I just wanted to show that I could get down and dirty when I have to and I won’t say that things need doing without being willing to do it myself or at least to do my share. Reminds me of the fundraising idea we had at Winnipeg Technical College when I said that we should have a dunk tank and people can pay to dunk the teachers. The planning committee wanted to know which of the teachers would be willing to get into the tank and be dumped multiple times. Well, guess what? I decided to volunteer and did I get dunked!! But it was the other teachers doing the paying. As it should be anyway. They had fun and I got wet – but for a worthy cause.

My hands have a couple of blisters and my leg has a big bruise from one of the branches attacking me. But that’s okay. My nails are in shreds but that’s okay too – for a few hours. Tomorrow we’ll work on clearing up the rest of the stones in the area that we’ll use for the garden and on Monday when I get back from Ghanzi, we’ll try to install the grey-water system and work on the garden beds.
When I was at the mall today, I bought 10 chocolate bars for the students helping with the burning. I gave it to them and pretty soon several others were asking how come they didn’t get any. I said it was just for the gardening helpers. I’m sure in the next few days, I’ll be getting lots more help.

Okay, enough for now. I’m posting this early today so the rest of the day will have to wait till tomorrow. I have to go home and remove a few slivers and thorns from my hands. This is a good reason to get an education. Manual labour is hard work!!!

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