Thursday, March 12, 2009

Wednesday, March 11, 2009; Learning

Mpho, the Coordinator and Alice ( Ah-leess), the financial officer have gone to Gabs, as Gaborone is called here and the atmosphere is different, a bit more relaxed. We begin with a few songs that everyone quite gets into and enjoys, although some are definitely more on the evangelical path than others. One person apparently is assigned to lead in opening the day with a reading and so Kabo ( Tswana for ‘gift’ and named Jonathon in the USA), a Peace Corps volunteer, does so this week reading an Old Testament Parable, following it with his interpretation of a fairly direct lesson. Everyone is polite and murmurs gratitude for the homily. And the day begins.

Kabo gives me some interesting insights into the office politics and posturing that confirm what I have already caught glimpses of. This helps me to plan more effectively for the team building I have been commissioned to facilitate in 2 weeks time. There has been very fast growth at WAR and about 18 months ago there were only about 4 staff members compared to today’s 16. His observations alert me to the fact that I have to get in there as quickly as I can to discover for myself what some possible areas of useful focus might be. Anyhow, general teambuilding issues like trust, interdependence, clarity and openness of communication, supportiveness and dealing with the hidden issues will be vehicles to somehow address most eventualities if handled with some insight and skill. I think that I might rise to the occasion.

I draft a plan for a session designed to empower clients to seek financial independence. The reason most clients give for going back to their violent partners is that they have no other way to survive financially. The session will be a “believe you have the potential and how to create your own employment all in 3 short hours”. Or, without being derogatory, It might be called, “exploring employment for the opportunity challenged”. I run it by Navoo, the head counsellor as it is her program and she gives me the nod. I am so glad I brought some things/supplies with me to give as gifts. Several women at my office sent a lot of school supplies along with me and I bought about 15 dollar store calculators. This workshop will be the perfect place to hand out some of that. It should be fun and challenging at the same time as some of the clients will need to have the material translated as we proceed. Dialogue, my favourite way of facilitating, will be interesting to say the least.

It rained off and on throughout the day with heavy rolling heat thunder that reminds me of the violent thunder storms on hot, sultry August days in rural Ontario when I was a kid. Then, as it cleared it got very humid and hot and I almost wished for the rain to come back!

I continue to learn. The level of patience I am able to muster surprises even me. No one hurries, although that does not mean nothing gets done. Talk and greetings are important. People are polite, and do not tear away from a conversation the way we do when we hear the next appointment, or TV show, or better thing to do ticking in our brain. Being late by some minutes is okay, and waiting for another to show up is not a thing that is noticed, or at least not fussed about as I tend to do. Yet airplanes seem to get caught. It is a good lesson and one I sure benefit from in my usual fast lane existence.

I am starting to remember many of the staff names. Some are Lesiela, Chawada, Bonolo, Novoo, Ibo, Petrus, Mathlhogonolo, Annehara, Boi, Bainei to name a few; and most of these have been shortened to make life a bit easier for the others.

As always, I have written way more than intended. Today, I even thought to skip the blog as “I had nothing to write”. .....ha ha!


  1. It would seem, amazingly, that no matter where one goes, traveling half way around the world, there is no escaping office politics. Just shows to go that people are people, no matter who what or where.

    Keep up the good work, I look forward to reading more.

  2. I guess they have good Internet access after all! I was wondering about that...