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Friday, November 15, 2013

10 Ways Peace Corps Botswana Prepared Us for the Zombie Apocalypse

Now that our service in Botswana has finished, and we utterly failed to keep this blog well updated, we are going to continue using this site to post articles regarding our re-integration into life in the United States and our reflections on our past service in Botswana with the United States Peace Corps.

1.    1)   Water hoarding and rationing is second nature

a.       Many villages are without running water and are fed only by boreholes. Even if you live in a village with a municipal water system, outages are common and can last for days, so you must store water inside your house and use it conservatively.

2.    2)   Bathing is optional

a.       We got very used to bathing occasionally, especially during water outages and in the cold of winter when freezing air in inescapable.

3.    3)   Scavenging and conservation of food

a.       Basic foods like starches and beans became a staple of our diet. When special care-packages of food arrived we got used to rationing the goods. Even living in a village with a small grocery store, fresh fruits and vegetables were expensive and hard to come by. Also, insects are now seen as a viable source of protein (in a pinch).

4.    4)   Hitch Hiking safely

a.       In Botswana, hitch hiking is a common and necessary activity. And when you are picked up you pay the driver what it would cost to take the bus that distance.

5.    5)   Sleeping in "the bush"

a.       Sleeping on the hard ground with a sleeping bag is standard fare in the Peace Corps. When visiting other volunteers or working at an overnight youth camp, this is usually your only option.

6.  6)     A roll of duct tape and a pocketknife is all you need for most survival projects

a.       Whether you are trying to make a clothesline to dry your hand-washed laundry or you have to tape survival items together to make a super weapon against the zombies, you find that a knife and some duct tape covers most tool and maintenance needs.

7.   7)    The immune system is kept on its toes from barrage of foreign pathogens

a.       While the Peace Corps has a medical office and staff in each country and does its best to provide care for volunteers, when you join Peace Corps you accept that you will be living in hardship and it turns out that unless you have a very serious medical issue you are usually on your own to work it out. We lived a seven hour bus ride from Peace Corps medical care so we tried to manage health issues on our own.

8.    8)   Travelling light – only the essentials

a.       In the apocalypse, speedy travel is a key to survival, and in the Peace Corps you become acclimated to living with only the bare essentials especially when you are on the move to other villages or Peace Corps trainings. To join the Peace Corps you pack your world of belongings into two suitcases and once at site you eventually get used to living with just the most important of those belongings out of a backpack.

9.    9)   You are ready for everything and nothing at any given moment

a.       You can work tirelessly on a project for weeks or months and see that it is going nowhere, and then in an instant everything happens at once. This mirrors existence in a zombie wasteland where the monotony of scavenging is mixed with intense episodes escaping from the clutches of zombie hordes.

1010).   Walking endurance and vigilance.

a.       A lot of walking is involved in Peace Corps service! And with the destruction of society as we know it, transportation by car becomes a fleeting luxury as finding fuel becomes more and more difficult and roadways become clogged with dead vehicles. Not to mention walking miles through the Kalahari desert each day requires vigilance to avoid bugs, snakes, scorpions, thorns, and crumbling stones that are out to trip your every step. And with this, we are ready for the long walks and constant vigilance that ensure survival in a zombie wasteland. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Last $500 for fellow PCV's Latrine Project Have Been Collected

Hi All,

Our friend's latrine project that I posted donation information about
has been fully funded. He is grateful to everyone's support. So, no
further donations can be accepted. We will post a link to pictures
when he posts them!

- Michael

Friday, May 24, 2013

A final push for Peace Corps Project Donations

Hi everyone,

Only $500 to go!

I am making this blog post to notify everyone that one of our best
friends and fellow Peace Corps Volunteer, Brandon Lawson, is $500 away
from fulfilling his project to provide 1000 latrines to an
under-served area of Botswana. From Hayley's and my perspective, this
project is one of the most important and immediately impacting
projects that a Peace Corps Volunteer has undertaken to improve the
public health of a community in Botswana.

A clean place to go to the bathroom is essential to protecting
people's health, and before the project started the area has only a
couple of latrines for the entire village of hundreds of people. Thus,
most people just resorted to using the bushes. And overtime, this has
become the cause of many health issues in the area.

Partnering with the local government, residents, and this Peace Corps
grant operation through which you can make a direct donation, Brandon
has implemented a system in which the families dig their own latrine
holes to specific dimensions, and then a team of people will work with
the family to construct the latrine building structure. And that's all
it takes to completely change the health outlook for this community!

If you can spare any amount to help Brandon complete his project, this
is a great way to make a donation and have it make an immediate and
direct impact on the lives of people here!

Please share this link with anyone else that you think might be interested.

Only $500 to go!

Best Wishes,
- Michael

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Packing List Ideas for Incoming Peace Corps Volunteers (BOTS14)

Below is a list of the most indispensable items Hayley and I could think of for the incoming Bots 14 group of volunteers that arrive in a few months! Also, any Bots 14 members arriving in September 2013 should check out the facebook group (Peace Corps Bots-14) if you haven't already.

  • Marmot sleeping bag Marmot Sawtooth and Marmot Teton  (winter is so incredibly cold, you will be happy you have a good compactible sleeping bag!)
  • Canvas tote bags (very nice when you don’t want the attention of an American backpack)
  • Samsonite umbrella-compact (the one linked has lasted us 1.5yrs so far, but most any US umbrellas will be better than what you can find here. And because the sun is so intense during the summer months, my wife and I both think good umbrellas are a must!)
  • Good sunglasses (UV protection and polarized) – this is a personal preference item. A couple cheaper pairs are great. Or maybe one nice pair and few cheap ones. Botswana is on the Tropic of Capricorn, so the sun is really really intense here, good sunglasses are a must!)
  • Good walking shoes/sandals – we use merrel, keen, and chaco
  • Computer – Botswana can be tough on laptops, regardless of the brand you like, the chances of it lasting rely completely on how you treat it. Some people with Mac’s didn’t last a full year, and some did. The same goes for PC laptops.  We use an Acer EeePC and a Toshiba Satellite
  • Extra computer battery – it’s up to you, some volunteers don’t have electricity at their houses so an extra battery would be useful. We do have electricity at our house, and it is still useful when I go to the village library to work, where the public is not allowed to plug into power sources.
  • External hard drive – we had a Toshiba brand external hard drive that didn’t last. Now we use Seagate brand and haven’t had any trouble!
  • Camera and extra battery – we brought small cameras (Canon Elph and Sanyo Xacti) and they have been fine. But I wish we had invested in a nicer camera because the safaris and experiences we have had would have been ever better looking with a nice camera. So, this decision is up to your personal preference).
  • Ipod – this one is a given. Some volunteers have brought iPhones which work well as iPods too, and a few have even been able to jailbreak and unlock their iPhones in order to use the local sim cards so their iPhones work as cell phones too. If you want to do this, contact your cell provider because many of them will unlock your phone remotely for free if you explain what you are up to.
  • Kindle – another given. The sheer amount of ebooks available from other volunteers is staggering! You will never be out of things to read.
  • One electrical adapter –The universal adapter linked to the left will cover you for two of the three common outlets in Botswana. In Botswana we call the most common adapter needed the “square adapter”. So, this is the one most important one. But there are two others that get used randomly (circle adapters and another smaller one I couldn’t find a link for, but the universal adapter works in it too).
  • A Power converter/conditioner is NOT necessary unless you use high voltage appliances like air driers and electric razors. The adapters linked above are all 99% of volunteers ever need. Most electronics (like computers) come with their own built in power converters (it is the large black box-like thing that makes your power cord so heavy).
  • Maps of Botswana, Africa, World, USA
  • Pencils and Pens – are sold, but good to have some for initial training days
  • Swiss Army Pocketknife – there are a million types of Swiss army knives, but the one linked to the left (Army Pocket Climber II) is the best for being small and versatile.
  • Long Underwear (for the freezing cold winter)
  • Winter coat
  • Winter Hat
  • Sun hat and/or baseball cap - whichever you prefer to wear
  • Reusable water bottle (nalgene, sigg, etc)
That is everything that we could come up with at the moment, we will post other ideas in the facebook group for Bots14! Good luck with packing

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Family Comes to Botswana

Click here to view a small album of select pictures from the trip!

A group of family members from the US came to visit us over the last
two weeks. The trip included some time in the Okavango Delta and its
surrounding pans (dried up lakes) as well as a few days in our home
village in the heart of the Kalahari Desert.

We started the trip with a day of rest and recuperation in Gaborone
where we stayed at the Metcourt Inn. It was a good transition stay for
our family to adjust to the time difference as well as the cultural
differences they were about to encounter. The Metcourt Inn provides a
very nice accommodation by Botswana standards, but that left something
to be desired when some showers didn't offer hot water and/or had
major leaking problems. But overall, the stay at the Metcourt Inn was
as good as it always is when we stay there and our family had a good
time too.

Instead of taking the 12+ hour bus ride to Maun from Gaborone, we flew
on Air Botswana. Hayley and I cannot even begin to express how nice it
was to take a 1 hour flight and avoid the horror of public
transportation in Botswana that we are usually subjected to!
After picking up some rental cars in Maun, we drove to Planet Baobab
which is located just outside the village of Gweta. Planet Baobab, as
the name suggests, is nestled in the midst of a small grove of Baobab
trees. If you have never seen a Baobab tree picture before, you should
Google a picture of one because they are a very unique and impressive
tree found in only a few places in the world. Our lodge reservation
was for two rondeval houses (large round huts with thatched roves).
The huts gave us plenty of space and ever provided each bed with a
mosquito net. A further bit of bonding came to our travelling group
when we found that within each hut was a toilet and shower area, but
that there areas were only contained by a ¾ wall meaning they were
open air. So, although the ¾ wall provided privacy, it was essentially
like using a bathroom/shower without a door for privacy  ! Aside from
the bathrooms, we all had a great time at Planet Baobab and enjoyed
the character of the place. Its bar and restaurant were good too!
Also, there were ENORMOUS golden orb weaver spiders all over the trees
and bushes of the lodge. They never caused any problem, but they did
make us nervous whenever anyone brushed up against a web!
We booked a 1 day safari through Planet Baobab and were taken out into
the Makgadikgadi and Nxai Pans to see the scenery and wildlife. The
drive provided more scenery than animals, but a watering hole in the
game reserve did have a fun variety of animals all together in the
same area. We saw a large bull elephant, zebras, springboks,
wildebeests, and ostriches with babies all hanging around. The
elephant would chase off any animals that go to close to his part of
the watering hole but other than that they all seemed to get along
fine. On the drive we also saw other types of antelope, giraffe, and a
secretary bird. At the end of the game drive we were taken to a famous
area called Baines' Baobabs which is a grove of 2000+ year old trees
in the middle of a huge dried up lake.

During our breakfast and lunch on the game drive our guide told us
about his life in Gweta, and after the drive we were taken into the
village where he showed us his house. He is very proud of his yard,
and for good reason! In Botswana it is typical for people to clear
their yard of every living thing so that it remains a dusty barren
plot of land surrounding their house (this is probably a practice used
in order to discourage snakes from getting too close to their houses
because snakes prefer to stay in the cover of bushes and trees). Our
guide's yard was quite the opposite. He had a beautifully manicured
yard that would rival any fancy yard in the US, and instead of hiring
gardeners and landscapers to do all the work, he did all of the work
himself during the weeks when we is not out guiding (he takes tourists
on game drives about 2 times a month).

Our stay in Gweta was short, and so we were on our way back to Maun
after a few days. The drives to between Maun and Gweta provided our
family with some experience driving stick-shift cars on the 'wrong'
side of the road. And to make it even more challenging, they had to be
on the constant lookout for livestock on the roads ever couple of
kilometers. As is the practice in all of Botswana, cows, goats, sheep,
and donkies are left to roam the country without fences and corrals to
keep them contained. Even after our 1.5yr stay in Botswana we cannot
figure out why people would allow their cattle to roam wild nor have
we found anyone that can clearly explain how in the world they ever
find their cattle when they need them since the cows and donkies never
seem to return to their homes (sheep and goats do return to their
corrals at night).

Back in Maun we stayed out our favorite camping hostel, The Old Bridge
Backpackers Lodge. Hayley and I and our friend Mollie slept in two
Tents with small foam mattress in them while the rest of our party was
split between two luxury tents with their own bathroom facilities
inside a private fence made of reeds. The luxury tents were big enough
to stand up in and contained a bedside table/lamp and beds lifted up
off the ground. These tents also had a great view of the waterway
because they were setup right on the bank of the Okavango! The
backpackers lodge also has a really excellent bar/restaurant area
nestled under a large Marula tree, and at night you can see the fruit
bats flying around in the tree which makes for a nice atmosphere. Not
to mention, the food there is some of the best that we have ever had
in Botswana (they make pizzas and burgers along with other things that
are always a nice break from the usual food selections in Botswana).

While staying at the Old Bridge Backpackers we went on a 2-day 1-night
camping safari in the Moremi game reserve which is part of the
Okavango Delta. The drive was booked through the Backpackers lodge. On
the drive we saw just about every iconic animal you can see in
Botswana except for leopards and cheetahs (FYI, rhinos are native to
Botswana but in the interest of protecting them from poaching the last
8-10 rhinos in the country have been rounded up and relocated to the
rhino sanctuary in Serowe, Botswana where each rhino is given 3-4
armed guards that stay with the animals at all times as they roam the
countryside of the preserve).

We observed huge herds of Cape Water Buffalo (the most danger land
animal in the world) and groups of hippos (the most dangerous water
animals in the world) along with zebras, giraffe, tons of various
antelope species, and elephants. The highlight of our two day drive,
however, was getting to sit in our truck no more than 10 feet away
from two young male lions. It is common lion practice for males to
group up and live together until they are old enough to challenge a
dominate male for the breeding rights to a pride of lionesses. These
two males were lying next to an acacia bush napping until the sun went
down and they could start their night of hunting. It should be noted
that we stopped to view these lions in a place only a few kilometers
from our camp site! Like most of the animals in the game reserves of
Botswana, they had grown up with the presence of trucks driving
through the reserve, so they are absolutely no interest in us or our
truck. Our guide explained that the animals here see the trucks as an
unthreatening creature and so they ignore it and because they see the
people inside the truck as part of the truck itself, there is no
danger to the tourists on game drives. However, the instant that you
step off of the truck onto the ground the animals see you as a human
being and their treatment of you changes accordingly. That means,
would most likely just run away but lions, elephants, buffalo, and
even zebras can be curious, aggressive, and/or territorial and they
can clearly see that you can a lot smaller than them and thus you are
in danger if you every try to get out of the truck near these animals!

The guiding company had our camp set up for us and cooked us dinner
when we finished our first day of the game drive. The tents were small
2-person tents, and our guests made it explicitly clear that the night
sleeping in tents in the Moremi game reserve was the farthest outside
of their comfort zone they could possibly have gone during their trip
to Botswana  ! But, after a night of listening to hippos passing by
the camp site as their started their nightly trek ~20km into the
forest to forage for other types of vegetation, we all woke up in time
to see the sunrise and have a quick breakfast before going out to see
more animals!
After the Moremi game drive, four of us went out on a 1-day mokoro
excursion. Mokoros are a tradition canoe used by the native people of
the Okavango Delta for thousands of years. A single mokoro is carved
the trunk of the marula tree. It takes a skilled carver about 5 weeks
to complete a mokoro while the job takes most experienced people about
2 months. The mokoros float very low in the water and are pushed along
by a guide that uses a long pole to navigate the waterways. We were
able to see a herd of elephants crossing the waterway about 100m ahead
of us, but other than that the trip offered a relaxing trip of pretty
scenery and peaceful water sounds.

After our adventures in Maun and Gweta were finished we flew back the
Gaborone and rented two more cars which we used to drive to our home
village in the Southern Kalahari region of Botswana. While at our
village our family had two days to see the school and hospital were we
work, and we spend the days after school had finished letting our
family interact with the students and play games with them. We also
took full advantage of the cars by going to the super market and
bulk-supply store in or village where we purchased enough canned goods
and toilet paper to last us the rest of our time at our site!
That concludes the highlights of our trip and if any of you reading
this know our family members that visited us you should check out
their facebook profiles to see pictures of our adventures! We will
post our own pictures as soon as we have an internet connection fast
enough to do so!

- Michael

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Another Movie Post... Best Movies of 2012

My Apologies to friends and family that receive email updates from
this blog hoping to read about our experiences serving with the Peace
Corps in Botswana, and instead end of getting articles about movies!
This post is an article that a friend and fellow Peace Corps Volunteer
wrote together to document our choices for the best movies of 2012.

Actual posts about our experiences during our 2nd year in the Peace
Corps are in the works and we hope to share them soon. We recently
completed an enormous project putting together a Leadership Camp
called Girls Leading Our World (GLOW). It involved bring together 30
girls from different schools across the southern district of Botswana
in which we are stationed. The camp was a big success for the girls
but it involved an inordinate amount of challenges with regards to
transportation because the Botswana Government office charged with
handling transportation in or district is nothing short of broken.
But, with the hard work of our fellow volunteers and local
counterparts we were able to persevere and give the attending girls
some much needed caring attention and life skills education.

And so with that brief update (more to follow soon), here is my
co-written article about the best movies we saw from the year 2012.

- Michael

The Best Films of 2012
By Brandon Lawson and Michael Stolzle (Bots 11)

A Message from Brandon:
I have really experienced hardships putting this list together.
Watching 2 to 3 movies every night (instead of 1-2) is very taxing. I
am like Julie from "Julie and Julia" except I prefer Quentin Tarantino
over Julia Childs. 2012 has brought us amazing special effects films
like "Life of Pi" and "The Hobbit" but bare budget Indie films like
"This is not a film" and "Beasts of the Southern Wild" show you that
filmmakers can still find new and exciting ways to tell stories.

A Message from Michael:
In a year that saw Spielberg directing Day-Lewis in a biopic about
Lincoln, not many films stood a chance in competing with a project
that is guaranteed at least half of the year's Oscar awards. Granted,
Lincoln is one of the best movies of the year there were many other
films that deserve to stand in the Lincoln crew's spotlight too. What
follows is a compilation of each of our top five movies of the year.
It's a broad selection of dramas and comedies that each have something
important to say and go about telling their stories in ways that
continue to push the boundaries of film forward.

OVERALL TOP 10 (in no particular order)

Brandon (Best Picture): A Peace Corps film. One person believing in
something is not enough. Only through strategy, collaboration, and
sheer force of will was Lincoln able to pass the 13th amendment. It
also does a wonderful job of humanizing a man that is more myth than
man; my favorite scene is Lincoln telling a group of staff members a
dirty joke about George Washington.

Michael (Obligatory Best Picture): A film helmed by Spielberg staring
a myriad of the best actors of our time who all seem to have a great
time relishing in their characters. It provides an intimate look into
the work of Lincoln during the final days of the Civil War and his
efforts to get the 13th Amendment passed before the war ended. It
provides a great history lesson while entertaining its audience with
amazing performances and a detailed depiction of life in the 1800's.
It's a great movie with an inspiring message.

Moonrise Kingdom
Brandon (Most fun movie of the year): I have already watched it three
times. Wes Anderson's point of view and storytelling makes him the
most consistently excellent director working today. Everyone I have
shared this movie with has loved it.

Michael (Best meaningful and fun film): Not my favorite Wes Anderson
film, but this one is his all-around best film yet. It tackles the
complexities of childhood relationships and parenting with the
intentional awkwardness of all Anderson's movies. But this one has a
cast of amazing and complex characters set in a picturesque world that
is held up by a great story with the perfect balance of depth and

Beasts of the Southern Wild
Brandon: I am usually not a fan of child actors but Quvenzhane Wallis
steals the show. I would place all my money on her in next year's
"Hunger Games." Director Behn Zetlin walks the line between fantasy
and reality

Michael: A lot of debate about this film has centered on its portrayal
of gender, racial, and social issues in a small isolated community off
the coast of New Orleans as it endures the flood waters of hurricane
Katrina. Ultimately, however, you will see what you want to see
because the film is very metaphorical and open to interpretation. For
me, it was a moving film with some drawbacks but its emotional
performances and realist-fantasy touches won me over.

Holy Motors
Brandon: Really weird and wonderful. My guess is that only a handful
of you will actually like this movie. But if you don't mind a little
avant-garde (or a lot) please give this film a shot. Little sneak
peak: 10 minute accordion jam, a troll that kidnaps super models, and
dragon motion capture sex scene…

Michael: Broken up into 11 segments in which the main character, an
actor playing an actor, rides in a limo from assignment to assignment.
The catch is that his assignments are to be different people in
various real world scenarios… Its commentaries range from social
issues to film theory. You just have to experience it.

Zero Dark Thirty
Brandon: My bet to win "Best Picture" for this year's Oscars.
Wonderfully directed and very exciting throughout. Reminds me of
Titanic, you know what is going to happen in the end but 99% of the
story is still untold. Note: Most people don't know that the rest of
the movie Titanic actually happened.

Michael (Best Picture of the Year): Zero Dark Thirty is my choice for
best picture, even in the face of Lincoln, because it sums up so much
of the zeitgeist that surrounded America's last ten years in The War
on Terror, and it does this through an amazing lead performance from
Jessica Chastain as the CIA operative, Maya, that works tirelessly on
the case. What's more, her character in allowed to be portrayed as
capable and intelligent without nodding toward psychiatric disorders
to explain how she could be such a dedicated and effective operative
(ahem… Homeland). She's awesome, and so is the whole film.

Django Unchained
Brandon: My favorite director. My favorite film genre. Not my favorite
movie. It was good. Not great. Tarantino can still create tension in a
scene longer than any director in film history. (See dinner scene in
Django to confirm).

Michael (Best Original Screenplay): As has already been said, this is
not director Quentin Tarantino's best film but it is still one of the
year's best movies. Masterful performances from its main actors,
coupled with Tarantino's unique writing style and encyclopedic
knowledge of film history allow him to pay tribute to his influences
while creating an inimitable and engaging movie. This is a great
unofficial sequel in his investigation into the acceptable limits of
revenge. In Inglorious Basterds (2009) he delved into vengeance
against the Nazi's during WWII, and in Django Unchained he explores a
similar theme during America's slave era. Both films, however, should
not be viewed as glorifying extreme acts of violent revenge and
instead the scenes of these movies should be seen as representations
of extremes that ask us: How far can we go in the name of vengeance
before we have gone too far? He isn't providing answers, he is asking
us questions.

Rust and Bone
Brandon: This is the age old tale of the orca-trainer getting both her
legs amputated and falling in love with an underground street fighter.
Classic. Seriously I loved it. If Marion Cotillard could be in every
film I would be okay with it.

Michael: This is a great movie that relies on an intimate story with
very real characters to tell its "age old tale" as it portrays the ups
and downs of the two main characters that are isolated in their own

Brandon: Have not had a chance to see it yet.

Michael (Best Animated Film): The slightly morbid stop-motion
animation styling (in the same vein as Coraline and The Nightmare
Before Christmas) adds perfectly to this unique story. It's a film
about a boy who sees and can talk the dead. Given the risk of over
using the "I see dead people" bit from The Sixth Sense (1999), it
expertly walks a fine line between being both aware of its influences
(classic horror) and not being cliché.

The Sessions
Brandon: A true story of a 40 year old man who lives most of his life
from an iron lung after getting polio as a boy. The movie is about his
struggle to find physical and emotional love. It is good to see Helen
Hunt back on the screen and the cast features three actors from HBO's

Michael: Regrettably, I have not been able to see this movie. But I
happily take Brandon's word regarding the movie's powerful story, and
I look forward to seeing it soon!

Brandon: Really great story. If it wasn't for Daniel Day-Lewis, Denzel
would be getting another "Best Actor" Oscar. Think "Boogie Nights" in
a 747.

Michael: Not much to say about this film, except WOW. It drags its
audience through every up and down of the main character's addiction.
It is a great film. A must see.

The Next Few:
Looper – a mind-bending movie that mixes and matches time travel and
mob hitmen into a story that isn't overly sci-fi or noir-ish. It has
the perfect balance for a fun stylistic action movie starring Joseph
Gordon-Levitt as a young Bruce Willis (the prosthetic nose is a little
much, but it's forgivable).

Oslo, August 31st – A story about the attempt to reintegrate into your
old world after being away for a long time. The story follows a drug
addict's return from rehabilitation, but its story transcends the
boundaries of the typical story of this sort and creates an emotional

Argo – A crowd pleasing true story. I would bet that you won't hate
it. And it gives us another reason to like Canadians! Thanks for being
so nice.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Public Health Project in Botswana, Seeking Donations

After a long hiatus from updating our blog, we have returned from our December break and plan to write more about our adventures soon. In the meantime, this post is aimed at raising awareness of an awesome public health project one of our fellow volunteers and good friends in Peace Corps Botswana (he's a mid-westerner from MO) is working on. 

The project details can be found below and if you have any interest in donating to a Peace Corps project and helping to remedy this public health emergency, you can click here to visit the official website setup to collect donations. 

There is an outbreak of cholera and diarrhea related deaths in my village in Botswana. These avoidable deaths are almost exclusively isolated to one ward (neighborhood). A community health assesment found that 3,000 people are sharing two water sources and three pit latrines (outhouses). The team found that the ward deposits two tons of human excrement, uncontained in the community every week. 

The most common problem linked to this type of open defecation is diarrhea. Diarrhea is the biggest child killer in Africa; it kills more than HIV, Malaria, and Measles combined. 1.8 million children die annually from diarrhea that could have been prevented simply by having a clean place to go to the bathroom. 

Disposing of excreta safely, isolating excreta from flies and other insects, and preventing fecal contamination of water supplies, would greatly reduce the spread of communicable diseases for my whole village. A 2010 study completed in Puru found that once pit latrines were placed in family compounds, diarrhea rates and deaths were reduced by half. 

The District AIDS Office wants to build a pit latrine for every family in the ward. The families have signed a contract saying that they want the latrines and they will dig the pits themselves. Before the District AIDS Office can address the problems of HIV/AIDS, alcohol abuse, teenage pregnancy, and communicable diseases in the ward, we have to address the basic human needs in the community.