Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Gaborone, Botswana: Mall farm vs. game farm

I don’t know if anyone cares but today is the 29th anniversary since Elvis died. Just a bit of trivia.

This was another cold day walking to work this morning. I have to admit that when I heard that I was going to Botswana, I really thought it was going to be hot or at worst, warm but this cold weather is baffling me. It was snowing again in South Africa today so I guess I can thank goodness that I’m not there. It was cold enough to see my breath this morning on the way to work at 7:45am.

I found what I thought was a foot path a few days ago which is a short cut to work. This morning though I was nearly knocked over by a car using the path as a short cut to avoid rush hour traffic (which is not really much of a rush hour except for the combis which are always in a rush even when it’s not rush hour. They have an interesting way of signalling to potential passengers. If they see you walking down the sidewalk, they start honking before they even reach the bus stop and if you so much as make the least bit of eye contact with them, they practically drag you into their minibus even if there is no space. At first I would look when I heard the honking then I figured out what the unwritten protocol.

On the way this morning, I chose a slightly different path and saw two women in the market just outside the Princess Marina Hospital. They were getting ready for the day’s work of preparing food for sale at lunch. I passed by after I said Dumela (Greetings or Hello) and then returned to ask if I could take a picture of them preparing their food. They wanted to know why I would want a picture of them and I explained that I love to visit market places because it’s really where you see real living and real life. I sat with them for a few minutes talking. I think they were surprised but quite interested in talking to me.

I walked along the road and there were several vendors selling morning coffee and fat cakes which are like the bakes we make in Guyana. For the last two days they were smelling so good when I passed by that this morning I couldn’t resist. So I asked one of the vendors how much a fat cake was and he said it was 60 thebe (about 10 cents). I asked for 10 and he reiterated that they were 60 thebe not 6. I said I still wanted 10 and he had this big grin on his face – probably thinking that this was a good start to his day. I took them to work and everyone had a piece. Well not everyone – about 25 of us.

Then it was a busy couple of two hours before Mitho and I went over to the WUSC office to have a meeting with Kathy regarding my placement. We talked about the contributions I have made to the centre and some of the challenges that I have observed. Those comments will be part of my final report to my faculty advisor. I think I’m going to have to extrapolate some of the content of the blog and put that in my report because I really don’t think Joe will want to read 100 pages of my blog (so far it’s 74 pages). I have to decide which parts of the report goes to which people. I think WUSC would find some feedback useful in planning for next year’s interns and volunteers and Sedibeng could use some of the information as part of their strategic planning.

We got back to the centre and we had some great news. The radio station GABZ FM called and wants to do an interview with us on Monday. I was pretty excited. I told Mitho to do a good job when she goes but she asked me to go too so we’re off to the radio station for our interviews. If anyone is interested and can manage with the time difference, you can go on the internet and search for GABZ FM ib Botswana and listen in to the interview. I am hopeful that employers will hear all the good things we are trying to do and call to hire our students or even to offer some training partnership sites. This could be the big break we are looking for and I’ll try to get as much mileage out of it.

The other bit of good news was that Baagi contacted his friend at the Cresta Hotel and he is interested in talking to us but will be away next week so we’ll talk to him the following week. Then I worked on the catering menus and we should have those ready for posting on the website. We also got a large catering order for 50 people for lunch for 4 days. It was good day.

Later in the afternoon, Mitho and I worked on the funding proposal that has to be submitted by Friday. I worked on a lot of it last night and we did some more today. Mitho took it home and will identify some of the most critical needs of the centre. I would say we desperately need a finance person to streamline some of the accounts payables and receivables. I have not had enough time to do much of that but with the orders for catering and floral arrangements increasing , we need to have the finances in place.

Given all the good things that have been happening this week, without a doubt the best thing today was talking to Izabel. She said she was going to a farm to see some animals and when her mom asked her if the farm was far she said “No mommy. It’s a mall farm.” How cute is that? A mall farm. That’s a farm in a mall. Picture that please. A petting zoo? Love it. And here I thought I was doing so great with my wild dog, lion and impala stories and all I have to do is go to West Edmonton Mall for my adventure!!

I even asked her to say hi to the other staff members which she did. Love you my sweetie baby. And love you my baby Hana although I didn’t get to talk to you yesterday. Hope you had a good morning at Kathy’s.

1. August 16th, 2006 by Sabena Ali
Who knew there was a safari right in Edmonton, Alberta and how many times have I passed it by without ever thinking of the poor animals?
Anyway, your adventures are so entertaining I can hardly wait for the next entry. Your time there is counting down so quickly and pretty soon you’ll leave the snow and cold to come back to the snow and cold. Are you sure you really don’t like the cold?
Keep warm and keep strong. How are the Jagger lips? :)

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