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Walk of Condoms and other stories

Robi has spent the night trying to write a proposal for a girl’s club that she wants to start around June. Itemized budget is annoying, and Robi is anal. I have been doing pretty much nothing, but getting ready for a trip. Tomorrow, bright and early (probably not bright though), we are going to hop on a Khombi for Pretoria, then to Lephalale, Limpopo to visit a fellow volunteer. Girl’s Club stuff. And I want to start a boy’s club revolving around sports. May o Whiff! We will be there for 5 days, talking with three other married couples, who are all doing clubs.

Robi and I have had good Peace Corps days in the last couple of days. We had a training from Thursday to Monday on Life Skills. Really practical and informative. We got a lot of great ideas and got to hang out with friends. On top of that, we were told to bring our counterparts to participate in Project Development and Management. Robi and I were greedy and brought 3, with the okay of the Office. So our counterparts (Youth Center manager, volunteer from youth center, and Manager of Educational Centre) got to meet our friends, interact with other counterparts all over the province, learn a lot about Project Management and Life Skills, and have ala time at a hotel/spa. Peace Corps knows how to treat us right during training. I’m still full from the food.

On Tuesday, Robi and I walked the 3km to the clinic, which is on the outskirts of the village. We walked in and talked with the clinic worker about HIV testing and condom distribution. As an experiment, we asked to take boxes of free condoms, supplied by the government, to hand them out and put them in shops and bars. They had no problem. We walked out with 8 boxes and within 1km, we were out. Each box has 200 condoms in it. 1600 condoms in about 45 minutes. A rate of 1600 cpk (Condoms per Kilometer). We were having a great time. We talked to everyone on the street, gave them a quick education session if necessary, talked with shop owners, and even got the Grandmothers to take packs of 10 condoms to give to their children and grandchildren. We broke the tension by saying that we had condoms. If they said no, we offered them chocolate while showing the box of condoms. Worked surprisingly well, obviously. So we went back, laughing the whole way. Told the clinic workers that we were out, and they gave us another 8 boxes. They were happy and talked to us about starting distribution points for them and we said we would come back again and do out Walk of Condoms again. So off we went again, and started to give out condoms again. This time, we got farther (school was let out just before the first walk, and now most of the school kids had gone home). By the time we got about 1/2 km from home, I gave away the last condom pack. So, 3200 condoms over 3km, is over 1000 cpk. (Robi and I laughed about our cpk rate being the highest in the world for the rest of the night.)

Today, I got up early to do the walk almost to the clinic, stopping about 1/3 km before at my middle school. I had a meeting with a teacher about lesson plans. THis may sound boring, and mostly it is, but I have been hitting a brick wall with this school, and this was one of the first chips in the wall. Unfortunately, I had double booked, so I had to work quickly to get back to the opposite side of town for a project planning meeting. Nevertheless, the lesson plan went really well. I ended up staying 30 minutes longer to make sure the ideas made sense to the teachers I was working with (computer training teacher – the lesson was on writing a letter on MS Word). Really great lesson and I think that I explained how to use the Lesson Plan template where they will use it again. At the very least, that lesson will be first rate.

Then I ran out the door for the meeting. I got a ride from a friend, arrived at the meeting almost 45 minutes late, to find that not everyone was there. That, and there was no lights (South African for no electricity) in the Youth Center, where we were having the meeting. So, I ran home to get some papers I had forgotten, and to boil two kettles of water for the coffee and tea (it is cold now. Getting down to 0 C at night, and up to 23 C in the afternoon sun). We started the meeting around 10:15 and worked hard for two hours to get the project started. It is an anti-littering, environmental, gardening, and HIV/AIDS prevention project (the things that you can stick together). I will be bringing in the Lorax from Dr. Seuss, which will be great. What was best about the meeting was that I was able to help bring 4 organizations together, orgs that don’t usually work well together, though are the movers and shakers of the community.

So I am on a Peace Corps high right now.

Just thought you’d like to know.

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