Observations

Sunday, April 18th

After a couple of days here in Molepolole (Moleps) and with my host family processing just what this is all about, I’ve become pretty amazed at the contrast between the relative development in Botswana and the high HIV/AIDS rate. I knew it existed before, but being here has really made it clear that without this disease (and the alcohol abuse that can lead up to it), this country could really soar economically and politically. I know I have much more to learn about this, and will post some statistics soon.

The wealth gap is something around 4th in the world here. My host sister just bought a new car with AC and a Japanese video dashboard control panel. We have a maid from Zimbabwe. The 11 and 12 year old children in my ward have their own cell phones, listen to Rihanna, and watch (along with much of the rest of the country) “My Star”, Botswana’s very own American Idol, on their large televisions. But this is just in Molepolole and a few other large villages. In other remote areas of Bots, people use pit latrines and don’t have access to as clean drinking water or electricity.

Other things I’ve observed that were unexpected and/or interesting in Gaborone and Moleps (not necessarily for most Batswana):

– In my host home, and in most public places in Gaborone and Molepolole, the tap water is potable ground water.
– Weddings take place outside during the day, and anyone is invited if you look sharp.
– The Choppies supermarket looks a whole lot like an American supermarket.
– While Moleps is a big village with roads and cars and big stores, chickens and other livestock roam freely on and around busy roads, with no road kill in sight.
– The Batswana eat a lot of vegetables, but some also consume what appears to be 2-3 times the amount of calories needed to stay healthy. Nutrition is an area that I am becoming more interested in working on here.
– The watermelon here is meatier than in the States, and the milk is way, way better.
– Families don’t have a unified religion all the time, but rather members may split up and go to their own preferred denomination for Church.
– Women don’t necessarily get married before having children, and many women with large families never marry.
– I’ve oberved many older Batswana women enjoying snuff.
– People can purchase iphones, blackberry’s, and even get a dongle for their laptop to connect to the internet wirelessly.

– Having one television station may seem limiting, but I’ve found it incredibly unifying to watch and is often used for PSAs about HIV/AIDS and alcohol abuse awareness (and My Star).

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