Dear Meredyth,
Do you remember when I told you about those horrifying 10 days I spent at a Youth Camp in December? The one that was run by a Ministry of Education official who was so negligent of the children at the camp that it was borderline child abuse(well to be real many lines were crossed). The one who treated us PCVs like they had a personal vendetta against us, like it was her daily goal to make each day more painful than we could have imagined? You do? Oh good, because I would hate to recount that experience here. That Youth Camp was the probably the most challenging time for me, seeing those kids suffer the way they did that week made me lose a lot of the faith I had that I would be able to do any good here in Botswana. Worse than that, if it’s really possible, it made me very bitter towards Batswana and especially to the Ministry of Education. Despite the horrors of that week I learned a lot, it seasoned me as a volunteer, and I was glad to put it behind me and move forward in my work here.
Well guess what? The Ministry of Education invited (demanded) all of the Life Skills PCVs and our counter part teachers to a two week workshop in the town of Molepelole. Great, it’s the middle of the school term, we have just returned from two weeks away at our In Service Training, just to leave again, this time pulling a teacher out of classes for two weeks. Oh yeah, the idea of a substitute teacher does not exist here, the children will just sit in a teacherless classroom until we all return. Why did the MoE plan it this way? It’s the end of the fiscal year, they have a ton of unspent money left over in the budget that will have to be given back to the national government if unused. So instead of buying notebooks, textbooks, paying the teachers a bit more, or adding to the school’s food budget this money is going to keep 45 people in a lodge for two weeks of “workshops”. Cool. To make things even better that same official is running this workshop for us.
Today was day one of the workshop, we shared challenges each of our schools are facing, so 25 schools repeated the same issues. One particular issue that emerged from a Batswana teacher was the problem of “these boys loving boys and girls loving girls problem”. The Batswana actually use the terms “transactional sex” and “homosexuals” interchangeably.
Well to be short and sweet, we exploded over this offense, the official shut us down and silenced our pleas to the group to please keep in mind that as Americans we celebrate diversity and accept all people’s sexuality. And now our counterparts think we are all evil and hate us. So it was a good start! I’ll let you know how the rest of the week goes. Cross you fingers that I keep you updated on this blog instead of ditching this dessert of bigotry to tell you face to face.