The currency used in Botswana is the 'pula'. I am told that 'pula' is also the word for 'rain'.
I am headed for Maun (ma un), the gateway to the Okavango Delta, over 1000 kilometres from Gaborone, the capital. It is in the north central part of the country and thrives on a busy tourist trade with many people like me wanting to see the richness of wildlife attracted to the flood water in the delta, the river flowing in to no where with no outlet to the sea.
Maun is the fifth largest town in Botswana with some 48,000 people. It is an eclectic mix of modern buildings and native huts as seen on the right. Maun is the "tourism capital" of Botswana and the administrative centre of Ngamiland district. It is also the headquarters of numerous safari and air-charter operations who run trips into the Okavango Delta.
Although officially still a village, Maun has developed rapidly from a rural frontier town and has spread along the Thamalakane River. It now has shopping centres, hotels and lodges as well as car hire, although it retains a rural atmosphere and local tribesmen continue to bring their cattle to Maun to sell. The community is distributed along the wide banks of the Thamalakane River where red lechwe can still be seen ( on the left) grazing next to local donkeys, goats and cattle.
I am going to be working at Women Against Rape (WAR) in Maun. It is a human rights organization founded in 1993. It primarily supports abused women and children seeking to address the issues that contribute to their abuse. Its mission is to reduce the incidence and impact of violence against women and children in the Northwest district of Botswana through empowering women and children , providing support for survivors, public education and legal reform.
Women Against Rape has about seventeen staff members, with most of them working in their main office in Maun, while a few do work at the shelter, where abused women and children are given temporary accommodation while WAR is still working on their cases. In terms of space it is quite limited but they can always find a way to accommodate an extra person.
WAR was founded by a group of women who came together as a result of concern felt following the non-prosecution of white farmers after the rape of three Bushmen women and the lack of support of the survivors. The organization was founded on the ethos of activism and volunteerism, which continues to colour its identity, management and activities, much like my home organization, BCPWA, in Vancouver, BC.
Women Against Rape offers:
1. Support through counseling, legal & medical aid, psychosocial support, First Stop Program (a network of volunteers in the community offering outreach and referrals) and shelter.
2. Education through a school program, an out-of-school youth program, a community program and general out reach.
3. Research and advocacy, and
4. The Economic empowerment of women.
It promises to be interesting and challenging while some of the mission of empowerment is familiar