How would you sum up two years of service abroad filled with highs, such as climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, and a handful of lows. Sheev and I discuss his time as a Clinic Health Volunteer in Botswana, the highs, lows, and in-betweens.
On this Episode:
- I interview Sheev Davé about his time in Botswana from 2013-2015.
- We talk about climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and contracting tuburculosis.
- Why it took nearly two years to acquire a filing cabinet that was being given away for free, for a local organization.
Photos from Sheev’s Story
Sheev’s Peace Corps Story
Where and when did you serve? What did you do?
I was a Clinic Health Volunteer under the 14th Botswana Peace Corps group from 2013-2015 (Bots 14s Represent!). I lived in a village named Letlhakeng, located in the south-central district of the country called Kweneng West, right below the Kutsi and Central Kalahari Game Reserve. My primary job there was to assist the District Health Management Team in various Public Health initiatives they were trying to roll-out. This involved investigating malaria outbreaks, raising awareness of HIV/AIDS, assessing data collected from TB patients, conducting campaigns against measles/mumps, and assisting physicians in diagnosing babies with cerebral palsy.
What is one of your favorite Peace Corps memories?
There’s too many to count, so I’ll give you three:
The first one was getting a filing cabinet for the local disability group. The group didn’t have any sort of filing system and had no way to get a filing cabinet. The local government though had extra office supplies which included filing cabinets. I proceeded to navigate my way through the Botswana bureaucratic system for a little over a year to get this filing cabinet. But luckily I managed to deliver it to them with only 2 weeks left in my service. That was a big win for the group.
The second one was teaching school children at the local primary school. I’m not much one for kids. Probably because I have difficulty having patience for them. But these ones really grew on me. One of my favorite memories of them was giving them an assignment to pick a country from a map I showed them, and come back to class the next week with that country’s capital, population, currency, president, the official language, and draw a picture of the nation’s flag. The village doesn’t have really strong internet and the kids don’t have smartphones. So I told them to go to the village library and ask the librarian for an encyclopedia. I wasn’t expecting much from this, hoping that maybe a quarter of the kids will come back completing the assignment but the next time I saw them, I was surprised to see that all of them completed the assignment. It was a really proud moment during service.
The last one was climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Hiked the mountain over the course of 5 days with my sister and our friends. That was super fun.
What is one of your least favorite Peace Corps memories?
My grandmother passed away while I was gone. I wasn’t expecting to come back stateside after I left for service. So when I said my goodbyes before flying out to Botswana, I knew there was a slight chance that it was going to be the final time I see my grandmother. But when it happened, it was pretty hard. My parents told me not to come back to the funeral because they knew my grandmother wouldn’t want to disrupt my service. So I stayed in-country and grieved alone. It took some time to get out of that funk.
I would say the other one was getting diagnosed with Latent-TB at the end of my service. I had planned this awesome vacation touring around the southern-part of India as a COS trip but had to cancel the whole thing for the most part because I didn’t want to get sick further. I guess that’s what happens when more than half of your service involved interacting with TB patients.
What do you miss about the Peace Corps?
By far the people. both fellow PCVs and host-country nationals (motswana). I’m able to see my PCV friends if I happen to be in their area here in the states. But life also happens and we all tend to get swamped with whats happening in front of us so it sometimes forget to keep in touch. Service put us in an environment where everyone around you is more or less going through the same thing. It was like we were one big family.
What is something you learned in Peace Corps that has stayed with you?
Humility. My life could have been so much more different if I were born in a developing country. We think we have many uphill battles here in the states but it’s peanuts compared to growing up in the outskirts of the world. The things we take for granted here in America: water, electricity, food, shelter, transportation. Those basic human necessities are more difficult to come by in the areas Peace Corps Volunteers serve in. It’s a humbling fact of knowing life could have been so much more different if my parents decided to stay in India.
Do you have a favorite quote or local saying?
Greetings are a huge thing in motswana culture. You exchange plesentries and greetings before you get into any topic. So here are a couple greetings and/or sayings I liked to use during conversations. A Gona
A Gona Matatha – similar to the Swahili/Lion King Song “A Hukuna Matatha” but the setswana saying of “No Worries.”
Wa Rang – “What’s up man?”
Wa Rang – “What’s up man?” Wena – which is really just “you” in setswana but me and my PCV friends loved saying it to each other. Plus there’s a song with it. Here it is:
More about Sheev
Sheev sends out a monthly reading list where he gives reviews on books and articles he read. If you’re interested in hearing his thoughts, you can subscribe here: sheevdave.net