Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Gaborone, Botswana: Checked out organic garden

This grey water system is so fascinating to me that I really think that we can install one at the centre and make it work. At the same time, we can make a garden at the back in an area that I think was supposed to be a spot for collecting and burning leaves but instead has turned into a bit of an eyesore especially when you’re in the dining buffet tables. There is garbage being dumped there and it’s totally unnecessary because there is garbage pickup twice a week.

I called Kathy and she said that there is Kelly who is a WUSC volunteer doing some organic gardening. That was music to my ears. I called her and Thandi and I went over to see it (about 3 minutes drive). It was quite well done and they are hoping to get a program started for women and the disadvantaged to learn how to garden and compost. I was impressed and we talked to Keneilwe the Environmental Planner about forming some kind of partnership with Sedibeng to supply the produce that will be grown there. That way, they’ll have a constant market for their product and we at the centre will be able to support them by buying their produce. It could be beneficial to both of us. As well, if the price is good, they can perhaps plant the kinds of things that we use on a daily basis at the restaurant – lettuce, cabbage, carrots, beets, onions, spinach and a kind of green like spinach but I don’t remember the name.

We came back to the centre all excited because we were really intending to go there to see what they were doing and how we could replicate the same. Our space is too small to have a large enough quantity to supply the restaurant but we could certainly grow some of it for ourselves – the quick growing things like onions and spinach. We decided that tomorrow we would get started on the cleanup. It’s going to be a big job because the pile is big but if we start tomorrow, by Monday we should be ready to make the garden beds.

Today we had a staff meeting after the students were finished for the day. It lasted for about 2 hours and there were several points discussed from the last agenda. After reading the items from the last meeting, I had some suggestions about marketing the centre in a more structured way and we discussed strategies that each of the instructors can do to assist with the plan. We discussed the sustainability of the programs. If students are getting the training at the centre but cannot find employment or are still unemployable, then the programs are not sustainable and will eventually fold.

We also discussed an Open House which was scheduled for August 24. I said that I would my part but I will likely be in Kasane or the Delta at that time. Mitho said that she was planning on asking me to MC the evening so they changed the date for August 31 so I could attend. That works out better anyway because we are wanting to invite some dignitaries as well as some of the funders/donors. It will be a sort of graduation too for the students who have completed their programs this year. We decided to use the occasion to launch our website as well. I’m looking forward to the event but it’s a bit late to be doing some of the planning. It just means that we’ll have to work hard in the next two weeks.

I went to the mall after the meeting to pay for my tickets to the delta but the travel agency was closed so Jayanthi, Jim and I (they gave me a ride to the mall) went to 25°East (the Indian restaurant) and had barfi and masala chai. And I didn’t even eat dinner yet!!

By the time I got home to Kathy’s, Katherine was there. She is the WUSC volunteer who picked me up the first day and brought me to the house I was staying at. She was very kind to me and it was great to see her again. She has done some wonderful work on establishing a home for orphaned children. The place is in Palape and it’s called House of Hope. They provide meals and education for orphaned children and she was one of the volunteers who worked tirelessly to get the project off the ground and make it successful. She is going back to Canada tomorrow because her contract is finished but I don’t think she wants to leave. She says she loves it here and you can see it in the way she talks so proudly of the people and the House of Hope. What a great name for such a place. I was hoping to get there to see it but I have not managed to do that yet. Kathy made a Thai dinner and I made flambĂ©ed bananas for dessert (only because we had some overripe bananas). That was two desserts in one night and a small bit of supper but it was yummy.

I went to bed feeling quite satisfied that today was a productive day and tomorrow will be more of the same. I re-read parts of the grey-water installation system and I think that after some consultation with Reynold (he installed one in Otse) this weekend, I should have a better idea how to make it work.

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