Promptly at 8 am, the staff meeting began with the receptionist lady leading a song in Setswana and a prayer. Mpho went on to make a number of announcements, and read a scripture from Psalm 119. I had expected this format of staff meeting from what Adriaan had told me about WAR. It was certainly an interesting start to the day.
Mpho took me to her office and we tried for an hour to put together a work plan for me. She had so many interruptions during the hour that we barely got anything accomplished. Just based on that hour, I can tell that matters big and small all ran through her, and she is expected by the staff to solve all problems. Mpho has this calm air about her. Regardless of how many interruptions come up, and how her schedules get changed on a dime, she dealt with each person with a tremendous amount of patience.
Mpho gave me a stack of miscellaneous financial reports to look through, along with the prior year financial statements. I was given an office to work in. The office is a basic room with a desk and a chair, but it had one thing that made me giddy—a high-speed internet connection cable! I sat down to read the reports, while plugging in my laptop to let all my out-going e-mails upload. It was so satisfying to watch the progress bar move as the e-mails are uploaded. Ah, such joys in life!
The president of the WAR board of directors came by, and had a list of concerns for me to address. As typical of a NPO with budget constraints, there’s a certain tension between the board and the management. The president’s concerns were valid, and I felt like I can help put things on the right track during my assignment. At lunch time, Kabo, a peace corps volunteer with WAR took me to a local restaurant for lunch. He is half way through his 2-year assignment in Botswana. He conveyed his concerns about the financial well being of the organization. I added his concerns to my list. In the afternoon, the fundraising coordinator came by, and shared with me her concerns about budgets and expenditures. At the end of the day, I had a list I can really sink my teeth into, and I was very excited. I wrote up a proposed work plan and sent it to Mpho for her approval.
Around 4 pm, the sun went away, the winds picked up, and the sky turned a stormy grey. Lightning and thunder followed. I rushed outside with my camera trying to capture the lighting, but was always too slow pressing the shutter. I ended up taking pictures of the staff and goofing off in the front yard for the last few minutes of the day.
Another volunteer in Gaborone told me one of the things she loved the most about being in Botswana is that it is so easy to build a network, and I’m already seeing evidence of this. Every person I spoke with offered me their phone number, and introduced me to another person whom they think can help me with my job. People are very helpful and are quick to offer assistance. The inter-cultural training we received from WUSC also stressed the importance of building relationships, and it is one of the most important things for the Botswana culture. I am loving this!