Friday, the end of my first work week at WAR. After the morning devotion, away from the others, one of the staff asks to speak to me after the workshop and I assume that it is about the team building as I had requested. I approach her later.
I get ready for the 9 am workshop with the clients and at 8:55 the first one arrives. Good, I think. However, by 9:20, there is no one else. We have 5 by 9:30 plus 4 staff and Navoo announces that we will start. A few more wander in, including one with a beautiful 6 month old daughter who is very quiet, causing no fuss and breast feeding from time to time throughout the workshop. It is all accepted as wonderfully normal. I talk to Navoo later about the breast feeding brouhaha that happened in Vancouver last summer because a woman discreetly fed her child in a woman’s shop and about the support she got a few days later when others had a breast feeding “sit in”. Navoo loved that and said that happens here to from time to time. There will be some ‘silly person’ who raises it as an issue, but most ignore them.
I cannot tell from the clients’ reactions whether anything is sinking in or is relevant to them, so I just keep on trying to engage them all as much as possible. There are several sophisticated women, well dressed and polished looking, several others seem much poorer, but all do want financial independence. When I ask how long they think they need that one of them says ‘forever’, others agree and I then know I am getting through.
A new experience for me is that what I am saying is being translated into Tsetswana as we go and I find I have to pay a different kind of attention. By the end of the workshop, I have them working on their first budget, needed to apply for financial support if that is what they will attempt to get– and several have indicated they will go for it. The 2 hour workshop goes for three and a half hours, partially because of the translation and partially due to need.
We have a break and some catered refreshments are served. The caterers set up a table on the porch and set up a lovely display of china for coffee and tea, glasses for juice, and napkins for sweet and savoury buns. They stay to serve them and the buns are a treat that is highly praised on the evaluation forms that 9 of the 11 people fill out.
The request from the staff person to see me turns out to be a request to talk about a family problem, for counselling. She is supporting her mother, son and her orphaned niece and 2 nephews who are about 19 - 20. They refuse to cook the meal for the end of the day and expect her to do it when she gets home from work. She says she is “merciful”, and so she gives in. We discuss it for a while and I suggest some possible solutions. I give her some homework and suggest we follow up next week. I am surprised at how quickly people trust me. I have emphasized confidentiality, but they have not yet got a track record with me. I move from the counselling and explore how she views the team. Interestingly, the ‘all is fine’ initial response shifts a lot as I ask some specific questions.
On the way home, I walk for 20 minutes into the main shopping area known as the ‘old mall’. Alex will pick me up there at 5:30 pm as agreed. I go for some produce in the “Shoprite”. I could have been in the Safeway on Davie Street. Bright, large and well organized and laid out with any product you could ask for, except for water based lubricants. I have been asked by a BONELA ( Botswana Network for Ethics Law and HIV / AIDS) contact in Gaborone to check out the availability of lubes that would be helpful to MSM ( Men who have Sex with Men) with condom use during sex. This is for a study they are doing with LeGaBiBo ( Lesbians, Gays. & Bisexuals of Botswana) a fledgling gays rights organization whowhich is doing an initial study on health services and utilization for their constituency. The only things, I find is half a dozen types of petroleum jelly for babies - not the right thing for sex and latex condoms. Otherwise, the shopping is great and for P136.70 [$C22.80], I am able to get a couple of bags of produce and rolls including some of the tastiest and sweetest mangoes [P2.95 or $C.50 each] that I have had.
I am exhausted from the workshop and go to my lovely home away from home for a great meal and some reading in air conditioned splendour away from the hottest day I have experienced thus far.