Dumela from Botswana! Le Kae? (How’s it going?)

July 21, 2015 | Alex, DVM, WUSC, Botswana, Stepping Stones International

We’re well in to our adventure in Botswana and I can’t believe how quickly the time has gone by. It seems like just yesterday that we were leaving the Ottawa airport to begin the incredibly long journey to get here. The journey has definitely been worth it. There was definitely some time that we needed to get acclimated to the culture and customs in the country, and it hasn’t come without some bumps in the road, but it’s been an experience that we will undoubtly never forget.

The country has been able to provide us with some fantastic experiences. Pretty much every person that we’ve met here so far has been nothing but amazing to us, and it’s been much easier for us to acclimate to the country than I may have thought. Plus it helps that the malls in Gaborone have been able to provide us with nearly all the amenities that we would get back home. Of course this doesn’t come without some things that we desperately miss. For example, a stable internet connection, or not being stuffed into public transport like sardines in a can (seriously, whose idea was it to put the big white guy in the row with the least room?). Even with those things though, the people and the atmosphere that we have experienced here has more than made up for those incredibly insignificant shortcomings.

As far as work goes, we’ve been working at Stepping Stones International and I cannot say enough good things about the organization. It is an organization which works with the Batswana youth to empower themselves and to help them achieve success in whichever endeavors they choose. Currently I am working in the leadership office, which works with youth aged 15-26 to improve their leadership skills. Now I have said that I am currently working in the leadership office, and that is true. But one shock that I got when I first arrived at Stepping Stones was that I would not only be helping to support the people in the leadership department, but that I would be running the entire department for the majority of the time that I would be here. Obviously this caught me a little off guard, but the one thing that I’ve learned while being here is that you have to be able to roll with the punches and adapt to ever evolving situations.

All of us living in Mochudi (where Stepping Stones is located) have already made so many meaningful connections with the people that we have met here at Stepping Stones, connections that I truly hope that we will all be able to keep when we return. The people we have been working with have been some of the kindest and most welcoming people I have ever been around. Not once have we felt like we haven’t been an integral part of the organization or that the work we do goes unnoticed or unappreciated. Lisa, the director of Stepping Stones, has ensured that we have enough work so that we aren’t wanting to claw our own eyes out from sheer boredom – something that we greatly appreciate.

The work that I have been doing has primarily been working with the leadership participants who in and of themselves have made my experience been truly exceptional so far. They’re all fantastic kids who have so much potential. Depending on their interests, I try to find workshops or training for them to develop skills they may need in order to succeed in the workplace and to help them find a job that they truly enjoy. It’s fantastic work and it has been most-likely one of (if not the) most rewarding experience of my life so far.

I still can’t really believe that this is something that I am actually doing. I tried to come in with as few expectations as possible and yet still things have caught me off guard. But I feel that’s just par for the course for this kind of trip. I hope to be posting again within the next couple of weeks for those who are interested in seeing exactly what we get up to next. Until then, everyone stay safe and don’t get in to too much trouble while I’m gone!

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