Botswana: The Jewel In The Crown Of Africa


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Image This is the first in a series on Botswana. It is written for the international audience through the eyes of an American, but with the heart of an African who has lived here for over 25 years. Let’s look at it from the inside out.” As the title states, it truly is “The Jewel In The Crown Of Africa”. These next few writings will hopefully turn some heads towards this remarkable Country.

Part I- HIV & AIDS in Botswana

On her deathbed, a Zimbabwean teacher in Botswana, wife and mother, said, “But my husband was the only man I was ever with.” Months before, she suspected her husband might be HIV positive. She was pregnant when he passed away and the newborn baby struggled for life just weeks after the birth.  When the baby passed away it was almost more than she could bear. In just a matter of months, her health also deteriorated. Finally, she went for the test. Stunned, she then knew for sure, it was the worst news imaginable. She told her pastor’s wife, that she had lived faithful to her husband, unlike him who had multiple affairs throughout their marriage. They had one other child, a daughter, several years older, a product of happier days. What would become of her? The whole family would be gone in the space of one year.  After her mother passed away she was sent back to Zimbabwe where her grandfather lived and worked as a headmaster of a school.


A few years later, there was a Motswana lady who came for prayer at our church.  She told me, “I am sick.” This carried a deeper meaning and as our eyes met, I knew what she meant. We prayed together and after that, through what has now become an official department on our NGO called Love Botswana, people were mobilized to assist and help her get back on her feet. She had been sick for some time, with no treatment options available. She was skin and bones and hardly able to walk.

It’s no good praying for someone and then not doing anything for them, if it is within your power to do so! First, does the family have food to eat? Second, what kind of shelter do they have? Living near a bar with broken bottles and trash everywhere, help came from the church. People from the church came to clean up the yard, put in a playground area for the kids, and rallied around her and the family to help in various ways from shelter, to food, clothing and school uniforms. Today, through the dedicated service of staff, local and international volunteers, many people are receiving help in their lives.

The Church should be the hands and feet of Jesus in our communities. Getting out to where the people are is critical. Most people will never step foot in a church unless there is a change in their paradigm of what church really is. A prayer is great, but here is what Jesus said about this kind of scenario:  “I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ Matthew 25:43

Further help came for the young woman just in time, as the Botswana Government was about to undertake something never before done in Africa in the fight against HIV/AIDS by introducing ARV’s for those citizens who qualified for the meds.  For this young woman, help was there. Over the span of just a few years she became healthy and strong, gaining weight and benefiting from the programs extended to her. She went on to finish her own schooling, taking classes after work, secured land, and built a house for her and her elderly family member.

Stats presented by source:

Day 19 My 500 Words

A Black Woman In A White Body


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  •  I am at a restaurant in Johannesburg, SA with my African Sister. The (black) waiter comes to bring the bill. He puts it in front of (white) me. But I am the lowly missionary guest of my high profile, (Black) Attorney sister/girlfriend.
  • I turn on the TV. There is a show on of fat bellied starving, sick and dying (black) kids with flies on their faces. I know that most of the African Africans, (not African Americans) cringe at the sight, are put off that this is how their Africa is being portrayed.

Africa is a big place. It is not all like that. And why is it usually a nice, clean (white) American who is lending the helping hand? (at least for the camera) What about the local workers on the ground who stay behind and feed, care for the sick and bury or nurse to health those poor dying souls? Where is their photo? Will they ever see the money raised on behalf of those in their care? Will their names ever be published as the ones who did all the work for the aid workers, mission outreaches, etc., to come and “serve” their people? Will they be noticed in time gone by as the true heroes of help?

Probably not. While their own children and families likely suffer at home in near poverty because they are working so hard to help THEIR own people, they rather look the other way as long as some good is coming out of it. “After all,” they think, “we need the help”.

Because then, what would the people who were doing these noble things by coming from their affluent America, say to the donors who financed the trip? “Yes we were really there. We saw it first hand. We came and really did something. The people were so grateful there, so warm and welcoming. We have to bring more people to help. They will die without our help”. It is called the “Savior Syndrome”.

We (white America) sees it this way: “shouldn’t they just be grateful we left our homes, came all this way, sacrificed to be here? After all, they are so blessed to have all this help. They must really love us a lot.”

Hopefully, I have sparked something in you through this. Don’t get me wrong. I am one of those Americans. I have spent over 30 years of my life in Africa working amongst some pretty big needs. But now, I am African on the inside and my eyes have been turned into African eyes. I cringe at my early thinking. I feel ashamed that (my) Africa is so patronized, exploited and pitied. I only wish that America and the rest of the world, could learn even a touch of what makes Africa rich in resources. Yes, there are resources of gold, diamonds, copper and the like. But that is not what makes Africa rich. It is the culture of respect, honor, the value placed on relationships that make her great. America is, in fact, impoverished in these areas. America needs Africa and Africa’s values. I am forever indebted to be able to embrace the true heart of Africa, barely skimming the surface of understanding just how rich I have become through being here.

This post from pretty much sums it up for me: “The ‘white savior complex’ is particularly strong when it comes to white aid in Africa. Often church missions have a concept of the ‘poor starving children of Africa’ and very little understanding of the self-empowerment and independence that can thrive in our absence.”   

See this tongue-in-cheek video on common pitfalls of media portrayal. How Not to Write About Africa – Binyavanga Wainaina – narrated by Djimon Hounsou

What feelings has this post stirred up in you? What have been your experiences,-on both sides of the globe, and what can we learn from them?

My 500 Words Day 19

The Lipstick Dare


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Just a quick disclaimer before I start off: The is really a chic-blog but guys, you can use some of it for your takeaway.

 Every woman in Texas knows that a girl doesn’t go anywhere without her lipstick. My mama told me that even if I find myself in a hospital bed, no matter how bad I feel, or how hard life gets, always put on your lipstick! Well, I guess it stuck because I can be in the middle of the Kalahari Desert in a tent. I can be in a hospital, birthing or helping someone who is. I can be crying in my Earl Grey tea, but you will be hard pressed to fin me without my lipstick on!

 When I was little, I had a babysitter from across the street that I thought was so great. Until she decided one day that I had a mouth that needed to be washed out with soap! I thought she was joking, but I found out pretty quick that she wasn’t. Child abuse, plain and simple, but I never cussed around her again!

 I don’t know about you but my mouth can sure get me in a lot of trouble. The Apostle Paul compares the tongue to a bit in a horse’s mouth, a rudder on a ship and a spark in a forest. Here it is broken down:

James 3:3-11

“3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind,but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?”

So, the conclusion is this:  Eph. 4:29 29 Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.

I looked in the mirror and gave myself a personal challenge, a dare. How about every time I put on my lipstick, I make a commitment to myself to try and let good stuff come out of my mouth; words that will lift and help others. Words that will speak life and not death. Words that will empower not destroy. With just a little effort, I can start to change my reality. Not all at once, but maybe, as much as I put on my lipstick every day, I can be reminded a lot! Girls, will you join me in my dare? We can cheer one another on!

If you are a guy and you made it to the end of this post-I admit, us gals needed this post more than the guys because we like to talk! But I dare you, too. You don’t have to put lipstick on, please don’t! But think about how your life would be different if your words were used more carefully.

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Let me know Let if you are “in” by liking this post.

Day 18! My 500 Word challenge

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Hippo Attack (Part 2)


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See part 1 here

My terror of hippos had subsided and the nightmares stopped. I heard stories of people who had fatal or near fatal encounters. I even knew a well-known lady in Maun who nearly lost her life and managed to save her leg over a surprise encounter with a hippo.

Several years went by and I went in a boat or Mokoro (small dugout canoe) and still had no nightmares. But one day I was with Rebecca, a friend of mine from Spain. I had been to that site many times before and there were always lots of hippo around. This time, as we started out with our guide, who guided us through the flood plains in the mokoro. We were peacefully gliding along the edge of the large pool of water. It was so pristine, and tranquil as the sound of the water gently brushed our ears. I was glad my friend could see the beauty of the Okavango Delta. The place I had spent over half my life. There were elephants and different species of antelope in the distance. The fish eagles were calling out with their magical sounds.Image

All at once, the grunting of the hippos in the middle of the pool interrupted the tranquility. They began a chorus that sent terror down my spine! I became paralyzed by fear. When we started out, it didn’t seem like there were very many of them. But I started counting and before I knew it I had counted nearly 80 of them! My mind got a little carried away and I started imagining hundreds of them and could almost see them chasing after us in our vulnerable little Makoro.Image

Rebecca noticed that the guide wasn’t a bit concerned about all the commotion. She looked at me, sitting behind her and she could see I was not doing well! I was frozen, white faced (even more white than my already white face!) and couldn’t do anything but pray. Later Rebecca told me that as long as the guide was fine, she was fine. She was a bit surprised at this veteran missionary carrying on like a scared cat in water.

Here’s the deal, nothing happened except a raging headache from getting so worked up! The truth is, these guides are brilliant in their knowledge and experience in the Delta. It is RARE for anything to go wrong. And it usually isn’t even tourists that are involved. (Generally speaking) So don’t let this stop you from coming to one of the most incredible places on earth!


Why all of the sudden, after several years of being over my fear of hippos did it come back like this? Often in our lives, we grow in areas where there are weaknesses only to find we are dealing with the very same thing again and again. I had to go back in remember that it was facing my fear that finally stopped the nightmares and near heart attacks when I got close to a hippo.  Life will bring many opportunities to shrink back just enough to keep you from being all you can be, just enough to stop you from making a difference with your life. There will always be opportunities to give up, to freeze up, to become paralyzed by fear.

I want to encourage you to stay in the boat! Steady the course and let God help you overcome those fears that hold you back in life.

Paul said this in 2 Corinthians 12:9-13 The Message (MSG)

7-10 “Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, ‘My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.’

Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.”Image

I was able to send that fear out the door by remembering how God helped me overcome it. Simple trust and faith in Him to protect me. Maybe you are in a situation where you need to get back in the boat and by remembering how you came this far might just help you carry on. Can you share a time when you were held you back by fear and how you conquered it? You might just post it here so you can help someone else!ImagePhotos from

Day 17 of My 500 Words

Hippo Attack!


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photo by Uryadnikov Sergey

Some people have nightmares about falling off buildings. They wake up in a cold sweat and upon realizing it was only a dream, take a deep breath of air and roll over and go back to sleep.

My nightmares were Hippos. After living in Africa near the Okavango Delta for many years, I have seen my share of damage that the Hippo can do. They aren’t a bit like the cute little stuffed animals you see in the Disney store! More people are killed by the Hippo than any other animal in Africa. The hippo is responsible for more human fatalities in Africa than any other large animal. When we first moved to Maun, there were regular occurrences of hippo attacks. They used to roam near the river looking for vegetation to eat near where we lived and there were times when they would encounter us humans. Generally speaking, they just attack predators, including people, they don’t eat them since they are herbivores.  Once a man tried to take a stick and chase the menacing hippo out of his yard. The consequences were fatal for the man, and for his friend who tried to save him. After that there were shotgun sounds for a full day near the river where the horrid thing happened. Eventually, the local BDF (military) were able to eliminate the creature. Those are sounds that one doesn’t get over easily.


At the time, my 2 boys were small. The mothering instincts were at their peak! So, for the longest time, nightmares of my children having encounters with hippos would torment me. Usually, it was a case where I could see the dangerous hippo before my kids could and always, just before the attack, I would wake up with a scream out to the kids to get out of there!! In my dreams they could be anywhere my children were. It was terrifying! When I had our 3rd son, Mason, we were living right on the river during a drought. There were 32 hippos who were scraping by, trying to survive. They would crash down the fences and make their way outside our bedroom to the dying fruit trees and the hippos would graze at night in our yard, standing up on their hind legs to reach the last of the green leaves.



One night, my mother in law heard something near the long, narrow window in our passageway. She pressed her nose up against the glass to see what it was and to her surprise; she was nose to nose with a giant hippo! She spoke to it and whisked her hand saying, “shoo, shoo!” and it turned and left quietly.

Another time, Andy, our black lab was running next to the river. Barney, the gold lab, was a lot smarter than Andy and kept a safe distance from the river that was teaming with Crocodiles and hippos. Andy decided it was time to play and he went out to the center where the hippos and their calves were congregated. I happened to be looking out the living room window when all of a sudden, I saw Andy jump on the back of one of them! You can read here for the rest of that story! 

My fear of the hippo just got worse as time went on! There came a time when I realized that this was just not healthy. Being so terrified of anything, much less something I had to see every day was too much. Never mind the terrible nightmares I had on an ongoing basis!  I decided it was time to talk to God very seriously about this! I don’t know about you, but I wait way too long sometimes before I think something is “serious enough” to take to God in prayer and ask for His help.  I talked to him just like a child would to his parents pleading to remove this horrible fear from me.

After that, it just became less and less! I don’t like, go swimming with them like Andy did, but I noticed over time, that it just faded away. Until………

This has been day 16 of My 500 Words.   Read day 17 of My 500 Words for the rest of the story!

other pics found on