Friday, March 13, 2009

Thursday, March 12, 20009; Progress

This morning the cab did not show at the agreed on time. I had been told that Alex had been recommended because he is reliable. I thought, “O boy, what am I going to do now? Wander around town for an hour and try to find my way through a maze of unmarked paths and poor streets? Or just stay here and forget about it – do some work from home?” I started walking figuring the best way to get my bearings was to get them. Then about 7 minutes later Alex shows up and we move on. I am paying more attention now as I want to figure out how to get there on my own if needs be. Like with the names, I am slowly getting it.

As happened yesterday, soon the cab pulls over and three women get into the back seat. They chatter away in Tswana and I just smile and say, “Dumale bomma”. (Hello women). Eventually Alex pulls over; they all pay him 3 pula (about $.50) and get out. Alex carries on and drops me at the WAR office. All along the way there are streams of people walking along the side of the road going to their jobs, reminding me of scenes in some movies I have seen.

Some interesting traditional costumes are in the parade today. I have to try and get some photos of them. Very full long skirtsof ten layers I am told and big tops in the same patterns with puffy sleeves. And the head dress is the most interesting, a scarf tied around the head in a regular way and then a different, contrasting colour tied in a unique way to look like bull horns, in Alex’s description. They belong to the Herero tribe which lives predominately to the west on the Namibian border

The morning opening meeting was a repeat of yesterday, like a mini-church service. At the announcement period, I say that I will come around to people to ask them confidentially what they would like to see to improve their team and workplace. I emphasize the confidentiality as I sense some misgiving about speaking one’s mind.

I talked to several people throughout the day and find they are founded - the misgivings that is. There is limited trust and one reason is fear of losing their work contract if they speak out, another is inconsistent interpretation of employment policies. Like any office that has grown too fast, there are growing pains and some issues may need to be put on the table, difficult in an environment where there is insecurity.

And I discover there is some resentment of the morning mini-church service. It is customary in many workplaces in Botswana to start the day with a little prayer and possibly a little song, but apparently here it can stretch out for quite a while, generally inspired by several individuals. I am also told that sometimes personal beliefs are given to clients as advice to influence their important decisions regarding future actions, rather than staying objective. Yet WAR is not a faith based operation.

It's all grist for the mill. I am seeing more challenge and interest in the reason I have come here as I get more into it.

I have created outlines for all the workshops and sessions I hope to facilitate here. The first one will be tomorrow morning at 9 am and I will find out how perceptive I have really been!

Tomorrow, I will make a decision about my travel adventures that will start when I finish here on the 26th or 27th. They will be expensive as you have to fly everywhere. Without the flights, most trips into the Okavango Delta and elsewhere are about $US300 per day, and that is the last minute discount. But as I will not be coming back next month, and am near the place I have thought about visiting for 50 years, I will just have to bite the bullet. In the opposite direction - south, I think I want to go into the Kalahari Desert too.