Archive | September, 2012

What’s in a Name?

28 Sep

Names are a really important part of a person, especially in Botswana. When you want to ask someone what their name is, you ask them “O mang?” which directly translates to “Who are you?” Your name defines you.

So why do I bring this up? It’s been something that has really been bothering me, so I am going to rant about it. As you all know, I was not thrilled when I was put in a homestay for accommodation, and I was immediately uncomfortable when I met the man I would be living with. He was introduced to me, and I said “Dumela, I’m Ky-” when he cut me off, looked at my supervisor and said something in Setswana. My supervisor turned to me and said “Ah, he has given you a Setswana name, Gosego.” (Pronounced Ho-say-ho, meaning “Lucky”).

Later, I met his children. I said “Dumela, I’m Kyla!” and their dad told them “This is Gosego, she will be staying with us.” I let it go. Usually the kids call me Auntie (everyone is Auntie here) but last night, they called me Gosego. So I said “My name is Kyla.” They looked very confused. They asked me why I was changing my name. I explained to them that my parents had given me the name Kyla and just their dad called me Gosego. They were still confused.

Now don’t get me wrong – I would absolutely love to have a Setswana name. But I was really offended by how this man did it. He “named” me without getting to know me at all, and didn’t even bother to learn what my given name is. Which is a name I’d rather fond of and attached to. In my head I was thinking “How would you like it if you came to Canada and before you barely even opened your mouth I said ‘You know what, your name doesn’t matter to me, I’m just going to call you John’?” He probably wouldn’t feel very welcomed.

However, he remains the only person who calls me Gosego, and all of my other friends and coworkers call me Kyla (or Dana, which we all giggle about!). I hope that I can get another Setswana name – one that reflects who I am and given to me by someone who knows me.


PS – Make the effort to call everyone by the name they introduce themselves with! If you have trouble pronouncing it, ask them again! It’s better to look like an idiot for the 30 seconds it takes to learn it than to act like their name doesn’t matter.  

Breastfeeding and the Vertical Transmission of HIV in Botswana

27 Sep

I originally wrote this blog for the International Women’s Initiative

HIV/AIDS is one of the most significant development challenges facing Botswana, a sparsely populated country in southern Africa. The prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Botswana is nearly 25% among adults, which puts Botswana as the second highest HIV/AIDS prevalent country in the world. The virus is spread mainly through heterosexual transmission among adolescents and adults and vertical transmission from mother-to-child.

The government of Botswana has put several measures in place to mitigate the spread of HIV. Particular focus has been put on reducing the new infections of infants through vertical transmission. Antiretrovirals (ARVs) are provided to women from when they are seven months pregnant, through childbirth and until they stop breastfeeding. However, there is still a lot of controversy surrounding HIV-positive mothers and breastfeeding, especially in Botswana.

Please go here to read the rest of this article. 

Vote NO to M312

20 Sep

I want to share the wonderful reply I got from Elizabeth May’s office to my e-mail about voting NO to M312. This motion, proposed by Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth, would essentially reopen the debate on the definition of a human being under the Canadian Criminal Code. This could affect many reproductive rights of women, including abortion, contraception, and rights throughout pregnancy. 

“Thank you for your letter regarding the debate of the legal status of abortion in Canada, which has been re-opened by Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth in a motion called M-312. I am very disturbed by Mr. Woodworth`s back-door attempt to re-open an abortion debate in Canada.

The Green Party opposes any possible move by the Harper Conservatives to diminish the right of a woman to a safe, legal abortion. We fully support a woman’s right to choose.

Through our “pro-life, pro-choice” position, we are also committed to expanding programs in reproductive rights and education to avoid unwanted pregnancies in the first place and thus reduce the number of abortions in Canada. We have also advocated the expansion of supports for low-income mothers who wish to have a child, but may consider abortion due to lack of resources.

It is vital that safe, legal abortions be available to the women of Canada – and the world. We support federally-funded maternal health programmes to ensure access to family planning and primary health care, including access to safe, legal abortions.


Elizabeth May, O.C., M.P.
Member of Parliament for Saanich-Gulf Islands
Leader of the Green Party of Canada”

To read more about this motion, please visit here, here and here. See what Stephen Woodworth has to say about it on his website here

Encourage your local MP to follow Elizabeth May’s lead and vote NO tomorrow!

Spend 12 Hours in London… End up in a Gangnam Style Parody…

18 Sep


And just in case you live under a rock and haven’t seen the original:

Arrival in the Kalahari Dessert

14 Sep

Hello all! I have officially in Ghanzi, which is in the heart of the Kalahari Dessert. After a 5-hour drive (uneventful except for all the ostriches on the roads!) we came to Gantsi Craft Trust, my place of work for the next 8 months.

Gantsi Craft Trust is a not for profit organization that seeks to empower San people through the production and sales of crafts.

My job responsibilities include:

  • Organize Product Development workshops (new product designs)
  • Ensure that craft produced is up to standard
  • Participate in craft purchasing in the office and in the settlements
  • Organize gender and natural resource workshops for craft producers
  • Compile natural resource data from settlements and organize the mapping of natural resources
  • Write reports on all above activities and assist with proposals

All of my coworkers have been very welcoming and I am excited to get started! They have just received some new funding for gender projects, which is one of my main interests (obviously, if you have ever read my blog before), so hopefully I will have lots of opportunities to contribute there.

And of course, since I’m in the field of development, everything was going too smoothly so far, so I had to get a curve ball! My accommodations were supposed to be the same as Sara and Dana’s last year, but the landlord never gave my organization confirmation and was seeming very unreliable. So, as of now I am living with a host family. I have some mixed feelings about this, as you can imagine. I was really looking forward to having more independence and having my own space by living on my own, but I am also excited to be able to blend into the community more smoothly in this set up. There are also 2 children living there, which of course I always love, so I can’t wait to meet them soon!

This will be temporary. I still think that I would prefer to be on my own, so I will live with this host family for a month while I look for other options, with help from my coworkers and another nearby Canadian.
All for now!


14 Sep

Heather, Kelsey, 4 other WUSC volunteers and I all did our orientation in Gaborone, Botswana’s capital. It was a whirlwind for days for sure! Some of the highlights:

  • Learning some Setswana
  • Meeting professors from the University of Botswana
  • Riding the combi’s (public transportation in Bots)
  • Meeting the Canadian High Commissioner to Botswana
  • Going to the Mokolodi Game Reserve

And so many more things! But ultimate I have been anxious to get to Ghanzi.

The Botswana Adventure Begins!

13 Sep

Hello friends, family and readers! My companions and I have safely made it to Gaborone (read Ha-bow-row-nay) and have had a couple days of orientation so far. We are staying with a Canadian expat and her family while we’re in the capital and make our way to our placements Friday.

Our trip included a layover in London, so we left the airport and did some exploring! We took the underground to downtown and saw that London 2012 was running some events! We walked along the marathon route to the London Eye. You can see the picture of me from the top with Big Ben in the background!

Our next stop was Big Ben then Westminister Abbey which were both very beautiful. We stopped for fish and chips at a pub on our way to Buckingham Palace where unfortunately we did not see any royals.

Then it was back to the airport for our long journey to South Africa then Botswana!

I am very happy to finally be here and am already starting to feel more comfortable than Monday. Yesterday we went to the Mokolodi Game Reserve, so I will post pictures and an update soon!


Mayor Rob Ford’s Transcript

5 Sep

Mayor Rob Ford’s Transcript

This is so awful it’s wonderful. It is definitely worth a read to gain some insight into the mind and shenanigans of Toronto’s mayor.