Dear Meredyth,

   I am proud to say that I was really busy these last weeks and had much less time to sit down and write to you. That’s not to say I have no time for sitting, after all this is summer time in Africa. We do a lot of searching for shade and then sitting in it. Besides that daily task, I am actually productive!

My PACT club kids transformed themselves into little angels over the school break, so our  meetings are now full of active discussions and brainstorming how to solve school problems. My favorite task since school started is after school Science and Math (or Maths) lessons. The school is short on teachers so not all students are getting taught, but they will be tested on the material, students who care about grades show up twice a week! Also, my weekly lessons at the clinic for HIV+ patients are now expected, if I turn up late or have to miss a week I hear all about it from them

When I finish the day I am so exhausted from the heat, walking under the burning sun, and talking/teaching all day. All I can do when I walk in my house is strip down, fall into my chair, cover myself with frozen water bottles/frozen vegetables, and watch the West Wing.

I used to think that the seasoned PCVs were absolutely lying to me when they assured us that, “the second year flies by because you’re so busy!” I now understand what they meant. I will say that it took me more than a year to get busy, but here I am now sixteen months in and things are happening!

I promise I was not slacking off completely before now. I was trying really hard, but it seemed that no one really wanted to work with me, or talk to me more than just asking for something. Now that I’m old news in the village, people actually trust me, they don’t think I am here to steal jobs or brainwash the children (maybe still a little bit of the latter.)

It’s impossible to get anything done if you don’t know what needs to change. Before people started talking to me I was just doing whatever I thought was needed. It went over ok, but not a lot of support or gratitude was given. These days people come right up to me, ask me if x-project is something I can do? I am a confident “fake it til you make it” kind of person, so 9 times out of 10 I say, “YES, LET’S DO IT!”

The hard part of this new openness with the community is that I now know more about what is actually going on here. I hear things that I didn’t want to hear; I see things that I can’t forget. Words like, “domestic abuse”, “child-headed household”, and “HIV+”, carry real meaning to now. I can find visual definition for these words from my memory.

I had a strange thought today at the clinic, while checking the vitals for the HIV+ patients; HIV in Botswana is like smartphones in America. Seems like everyone has got it, old news. Then you see a little kid with one, and you say to yourself, “that kid is too young to have that! He/she probably doesn’t understand what it is!”

All my love,

Julia

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