Gumare

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By Kate and Ella

Yesterday we left for Gumare, which was a three-hour drive through absolutely nothing. We arrived at the basket-weaving site and jumped right in. Our pen pals were waiting for us and seemed really excited to meet us. There was a stark contrast between our pen pals and the students at MaP. Many of the kids we talked to in Gumare had never left the country and going to college was exceptional rather than expected. Nevertheless, the kids were just as bright and happy.
Our project during our stay in Gumare was to paint a sign on the wall of the basket weavers’ building. We split into two groups and while some of us learned how to weave, others began the mural. We wove bracelets and earrings to take with us and all of us bought beautiful baskets for gifts. While there was a language barrier between us and the weavers, we were still able to learn a great deal and have fun.   We all also helped paint a great sign on the wall that will hopefully help the weavers attract more business in the future. It was more fun for the group than the mural we painted at the Botswana-Baylor center because we were in complete control of the project.
 
We had both been emailing back and forth with the one of the onsite Peace Corps volunteers, Todd Wright, and had planned our time in Gumare. It exceeded both of our expectations, especially because of how welcoming and excited to see us the students and weavers were. Everything seemed to fall into place because all of the activities were in one place, we even slept there.
 
In the evening, we heard from Todd and Amanda (the Peace Corps volunteers) that there might be some elephants near a watering hole. We loaded up in the vans and went searching. We drove down a long dusty road for a while and then all of the sudden, just outside the village, we saw three huge elephants run across the road right in front of us. After much contemplation, we decided to advance slowly. We inched forward, and then suddenly the biggest elephant was right next to us. He was old and wrinkly with huge tusks. He flapped his ears and dstarted walking towards us so we gunned it forward and everyone was screaming. It was a great adrenaline rush and even Todd and Amanda said that it was the biggest elephant they had ever seen, which was especially surprising considering how close it was to their village. Gumare is by far the most remote place we have visited on this trip. They have one overpriced grocery store, three restaurants and a school. Todd and Amanda have to hitchhike all the way to Maun to buy groceries because it is cheaper. Often it takes two days to do this because they have to spend the night in Maun, so they only go once a month. The differences between such a remote village and Gaborone are significant, especially in the education level of the population and availability of services, but we think many of us expected it to be more different. Even though the students are so isolated from most of the world, they are just as bright, happy and hopeful. Many of them share the same dreams that we do, like traveling the world, going to college, and becoming doctors or lawyers. It is really moving to know that we are so similar our different upbringings.