Dumela, Gaborone!

Meet the group who made it to Botswana! Christine (Bean), Erin, Madeline, Tyler, and Alexa! ūüėÄ


We made it to Botswana and didn’t have a delay in our flights. Great, right? WRONG.

Our 15 hour and 45 minute flight was quite interesting. Madeline and Erin were sitting in front of a fussy baby the majority of the flight. Alexa was sitting beside the snack stealer. The guy beside her kept taking her snacks and giving her all of his granola bars. Tyler and Bean successfully beat one game of sudoku, but after they got to medium it got a little too hard. It was a long flight, but none of us can really complain.

Once we arrived we got picked up by Dr. Marape and his family who have been kindly taking us around to help us get Pula, groceries, and make sure we can still stick closely to our original schedule. Sounds great, right? WRONG.That’s definitely a positive but we’ve been struggling on our own. 15 minutes into being in our apartment at Motheo apartments, Bean and I clogged our toilet from the long day of flying. I’ll leave you with knowing that our toilet is okay now. Our bathrooms are all tile, pretty tiny, with a very dim light, and just have a toilet and sink. This morning Erin locked the bathroom door (it’s like a lock and key in the door) and locked herself in and was stuck. She started knocking on the door and yelling for Madeline and Tyler who were sleeping. They couldn’t figure out how to get her out. Tyler ran over to Bean and I’s door and was pounding on it, but we slept through it. Erin slid the keys under the door to try to get them to unlock it from the outside and was panicking. Erin is out and doing well this afternoon ūüôā

Erin is okay, nothing else could go wrong, right? WRONG. As I was getting ready to write this blog I dropped by laptop on the cement outside and it dented a little bit, but it’s doable. Botswana just left it’s mark on my computer. We will be visiting the Princess Marina hospital later this afternoon to see where we will be working the majority of the time that we are here and going on a hike this evening. Stay tuned and follow our journey through my eyes.

Thank you again to Dr. Marape and his family for everything so far! We are ready for our supervisors and Kyle to arrive.




Cars, Planes, Shuttles and Delays

We started our journey in high spirits, five of the group arrived in Atlanta on time, ready to take the long flight to Joberg.  The remaining three were at the Columbus, Ohio airport ready to board the plane so we could meet up with the group in Atlanta.

1st Issue: I received a text from Rebecca saying that our 4:26 flight had been delayed until 6:00 pm. ¬†“What” I say, as I had just checked in at the kiosk and no one said anything about a delay. ¬†I leave my lunch and head to the flight board, sure enough the flight had been delayed. ¬†This would put the three of us in Atlanta at the earliest at 7:46 with our international flight leaving at 8:12 ( if you do the math, we would have had to fly ). ¬†I go to another agent who said that I would be able to fly standby on the flight scheduled to leave Columbus at 3:15, getting us into Atlanta at 5:00, great, book em Dano. ¬†I send Rebecca a text telling her to re-book flying standby however her flight agent was not quite accommodating and she ended up calling the HELP line where she was placed on the standby list. ¬†We were both able to get boarding passes. ¬†Great, right, but no, where was our 6th student, he was MIA, we called, we sent texts and then just as I am boarding he is standing there, but the plane is full, he will not be able to get on. ¬†Rebecca and I board after I explain the customer service rep what needed to happen, she promised to do what she could. ¬†Then the sitting begins, first there is a weather alert in Atlanta, planes were not allowed to land, then it was a problem in the communication system of the plane. ¬†3:15 then 3:45 then 4:00 then 4:15, now it is 4:45 and we have not moved from the gate. ¬†Finally at 5:30 they announce that the plane would not be flying to Atlanta this evening, another plane had been called to take everyone to Atlanta, great, right, well no we would arrive in Atlanta at 7:46 sill unable to get on the international flight. ¬†Are you wondering what happened to the student, well he did get on and actually was seated in first class. ¬†(Too ¬†bad he was not able to fly anywhere). Now, here is the big problem. do we take the later flight and stay in Atlanta until we can fly out, well no, because if we do that we cannot just re book that portion of the trip. ¬†The Delta HELP line was no help, so then it hit me, call the travel agent who booked the tickets, problem solved right ? Nope, no one is in the office on Saturday but there is an emergency Help line, so I called it. ¬†Brian of Altour ¬†travel to the rescue… he was able to re book us for the second flight out on Sunday, re book our Atlanta to Joberg flight, ¬†our flight to Botswana and find us two hotel rooms at the Joberg airport.

In between all of this Rebecca is trying to find us two hotel rooms for our night in Columbus, ¬†Delta at first was not help, The person at the desk there were no rooms available, so I said fine, I will just call my daughter, Jessica Wright. ¬†However Rebecca found a hotel room online and asked well why can’t we get a voucher for this room. All of the sudden the customer service rep was able to find two rooms at the Airport Marriott (surprise, surprise). ¬†In the meantime, my daughter Jessica, the general manager at the Polaris Rusty Bucket , was sending some much needed food as Delta could not seem to provide us with food. ¬†THANK THANK THANK THANK THANK YOU my wonderful daughter, it is important to have friends in high places.

Meantime back in Atlanta, the five students have boarded the flight to Joberg without their fearless leaders.  Now it is time for call everyone, Facebook everyone, text everyone you know to find someone to meet the students in Gaborone and escort them to the apartments where we will be staying, to the Main Mall on Monday to buy food and get them to the hospital to start their service learning on Tuesday.  A big thank you to Catherine Marshall ( who talked me down off the cliff), Maria Modayil (for providing some additional contact information) and Gillian Ice (for helping me arrange for Dr. Marape to meet the students and shepherd them around until we can get there.)  Once again it pays to know people in high places.

So here we are Rebecca Meier, Kyle O’Donnell ( the PT student who has been stuck with us) and myself waiting in the Atlanta airport for 10 hours in order to board the flight to Joberg, great ¬†right? ¬†No no such luck we will have to spend the night in Joberg and fly out to Gaborone Tuesday am at 7:30 arriving in Gaborone at 8:30 am. ¬†So the saga continues….

Tantebane Game Ranch

The fun continued on our second day in Francistown as Matilda took us to Tantebane Game Ranch! While driving up the lane we even saw Ververt Monkeys and Water Bucks! This nature preserve has a club house to eat at, cabins and chalets for camping, and even a golf course! As we walked around the lake Maltilda, and her partner and son, were pointing out and naming some of the many different birds around including the Pied King Fisher, the African Fish Eagle, and the Blacksmith Plovers! Lunch was served under the veranda overlooking the water. After lunch, the highlight of the game drive was getting to see zebra! Their stripes really do work as great camouflage, try and pic them out of the pictures! Upon returning to the club house, we enjoyed some drinks as we watched the sunset over the lake!





Welcome to Francistown

To begin our journey in Francistown, physiotherapists from settings all throughout the city came to listen to inservices. Stephanie, Kerry and TJ began with an overview of Evidence Based Practice and how the critically read articles to decide whether or not to implement changes in current practice. Then Jenni, Lauren, Brenna and Angela presented on Neurological Complications of HIV/AIDS, as well as tied in the first presentation by reading an article relating to the topic as a group an going through the process discussed earlier. The morning concluded with JH giving Matilda a gift of thanks for all of her work helping to set up the week! After discussing the plans for the week, Matilda took us on a tour of the new clinic that is under construction. Her and her physiotherapy company have a bright future ahead! She then hosted the group at her home for a Braai, or a cookout! Here we got to try some new things like wild boar and chakalaka! Check out the Facebook, Twitter and instagram for pictures from the new clinic site and the braai!






Mariri Presentations

The final day at Mariri clinic was performing inservices for the staff members since the children began their holiday. The topics included Basics of First Aid presented by Thea and Jenni, Communication Matrix presented by Molly and Michelle, Ergonomics presented by Kerry and Brenna and Parental Information presented by Stephanie and Molly. The staff members were very receptive, asked many questions, and demonstrated many techniques! After another lovely lunch, the staff members and the OU delegation exchanged gifts of thanks and hugs of goodbye and well wishes!
We then traveled to Francistown, Botswana! Here we were greeted by Matilda, a graduate of the Ohio University Physical Therapy Program! She has arranged many opportunities for us during the remainder of our stay in Botswana!








Mariri Clinic

Our first two days at Mariri clinic were filled with smiling children! The staff at the clinic welcomed us with open arms. We began in the classrooms, observing and helping with lessons like coloring, counting, reading, and exercising. JW and the SLP students were able to assist Mariri with her speech therapy sessions throughout the days. While the JH and the PT students encouraged some functional playing with some children with motor delay. Our gracious hostess also provided us with a wonderful array for both tea time and lunch each day!





Princess Marina

Tuesday we spent the day at Princess Marina Hospital, the government run, public hospital in Gaborone. We were told that for about 5 Pula any citizen of Botswana can be seen here. We split up between departments for the day and the PT students and faculty spent the day with the physios and the SLP students and faculty spent the day with Audiologists since the 2 SLPs were on leave. The department of 7 physios are in charge of both the outpatient and the acute care patients at the 600 bed hospital! We divided again to be able to see what it’s like in both settings here, as natural CIs they allowed us to help see patients in order to learn hands-on. A few consistencies throughout the experience that we noticed are that even though the wards are crowded and there are limited resources in both the wards and the clinic, the physios are very resourceful, using what they have to the highest potential and seeing about 20 patients per day (even though there are no set productivity standards, they just see as many as they can!)! A picture is worth 1,000 words, and I’m sad to say we were unable to take any photos other than a group photo with the physios, but this was surely an eye-opening experience that we will all remember for the rest of our lives!


We're not in Athens anymore. Follow some Ohio University Physical Therapy Students and Speech Language Pathology Students as they experience life and the healthcare system in Botswana.