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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