14 October 2009

I’ve hit the ground running here in Gaborone since landing. Jane, my midwife colleague, and I arrived Saturday afternoon, October 3rd -- and at 8:00am on Monday morning we started work for Bokamoso Private Hospital! Just for the record, I don’t recommend landing in a new country and starting work a day and ½ later – but that’s what we did. Here is a video, after 3 days of travel, of our arrival to the airport.

Here's a video driving from the airport into Gaborone.

Here's a view from the window of my staff housing apartment looking out at other apartments.

Monday, Oct. 5th we attended Orientation with all the medical and administrative staff who are currently hired and here – about 140 people. The docs alone are represented by 20 different countries. We’re quite the little UN – all here to start what everyone agrees is a very ambitious, state-of-the-art hospital in a country and region that has seen nothing like what we’re creating. I’m very inspired by what we are attempting to do: provide an extremely advanced and exceptional set of medical services that don’t exist in the country and do it in the highest-tech environment possible. Some of the high-tech initiatives are: paperless record keeping, virtual consulting with an international medical advisory board, and being a test site for an electronic bedside quality assurance monitoring system. OK, and then there was last Wednesday.

Wednesday there was no internet access at the hospital where all the administrative staff are located and Thursday it was mostly down. So much for high tech.

So what is Botswana like, you ask. Gaborone (called “Gabs” for short) is a very modern city with a few high rises, hotels, international restaurants and little shopping malls that have grocery stores similar to ours in the US. We even went to a Costco-type store last weekend that sells everything from small electronics, kitchenware, food and even Indian spices in bulk bins. The wine is great and it isn’t hard to find a good South African wine for under $10. But the contrast between modern and traditional is apparent everywhere. Driving down the road – in traffic, I might add – there are goats roaming free, women selling bags of oranges and little hard candies at makeshift roadside tables, and as soon as you are off the main driving roads, many of the streets are reddish dirt, not pavement. The past and the future meet in Gaborone.

I’ve seen no black mambas but there are plenty of bugs, especially after it rains which it has done for about ½ the days I’ve been here. Here's one I saw on the wall next to the door to my apartment. This baby was about 5" long. Anyone who can identify what it is wins accolades on my next blog post.

Next blog you'll get a little tour of my 500 sq. ft. staff housing apt!


  1. Wow! Thanks so much for posting! I was surprised (pleasantly) by the two videos - I had expected chaos, but everything seems quiet and organized! No horns beeping on the road and people jockeying in front of each other. It's so neat to see your story unfold here! Thanks, Julie!

  2. julie,

    i am so happy for you. what an experience you are going to have. this is the cool thing about our family, especially our generation. we are adventurous if nothing else. certainly not the stereotypical batch of jews, for sure, but creative and moral in our own way.

    jen and i bat around the idea of just leaving the country for these trying times, economically that is, but it might not be the wisest thing with a kid that doesnt yet walk ... by that i mean my 42 yr old back might not appreciate it. we shall see.

    as for the bug, i would say praying mantis but that is so american of me to assume that the bugs are the same over there as we have here. certainly would make my skin crawl for the first few encounters, i am sure.

    hope that you have a great settling in period. you are a good woman and doing marvelous things. our grandparents would all be so proud of you. i mean that sincerely. here's to carrying the levy heart to the world.

    oh, perfect timing. baby reef calls.

    love ya,

  3. Julie,

    This is wonderful hearing of your experiences in Botswana. I'm looking forward to keeping up with your adventures!

    Meetup continues well....but not nearly as much fun without YOU!


  4. Hey Julie,

    I was so excited when I saw I had an email from you. Thank you so much for creating this blog and sharing your adventures with us!

    You are on an incredible journey and I am so proud of you. You have so much to offer and will make such a positive impact on anyone you come into contact with!

    I miss you so much already and you haven't even been gone that long yet. I'm sure many people feel the same way!

    Take good care of yourself and I am already anxiously awaiting your next update!

    Love you lots!!

  5. Hi Julie, Great hearing from you, seeing the photos and videos. Thanks for taking us along with you on your adventure.
    Love Harriet

  6. Hi Julie,

    I was just about to send you email asking how things were going when I received the blog message. Wow, you didn't waste any time! I LOVED seeing the videos and hearing your voice. This is a great way to keep everyone posted.

    Wish I were there with you,

    P.S. Being an infonaut, I couldn't resist trying to identify the insect. I think it's this guy, a double mantid --

  7. oh dear sweet cousin, I am so happy you are doing a blog so you don't feel so far away. The time before you left were insane getting the new school ready to open and I am bummed not to get to squeeze one last phone call in before you left. I love you so much and ditto on Josh's beautiful words. Keep posting and I hope you are having an amazing time. Jesica

  8. Wow Julie this is great, we can all follow your adventures. Strange driving on the other side of the road --hehe.

    That bug looks kinda like a Praying Mantis, well not really I guess.

    Please accept my Skype invitation and we can set up a video call.


  9. Hey there! It looks like you are settling in nicely! So, , when I come out to DJ I need to bring square plugs, not round!

    There was an article about video conf and doctors in todays wall street journal. Here is the link but I think you might need to be a subscriber to see it. I can send to your email if you'd like. .. never mind, App will not let me paste the link.

    Have fun and stay safe!!

  10. Oh, Julie, you are the best example of adventure, joyfulspirit, and humanitarianism.

    I Loved your videos, the photos, and reading about your day.

    Can't wait to hear more!

    You make your life a Blessing, Dear One.

    PLEASE stay in touch, or I might have to come over to find you (which Bob would not appreciate.

    My 60th BD is this weekend. We have wonderful plans with 6 of "our kids" joining us at home for a pizza party assembly style. And we're leaving the house to the kids so that Bob and I can celebrate in luxuary at the Fearrington House B&B and then have breakfast with the kids there Sunday morning.

    Life contains so much JOY when we find (or accept) the flow that directs us in the currents of living.

    All my BEST wishes for Everything Good for you over there. And know that I'm a little envious - however as a yoga teacher that will be tamed to ADMIRATION for you and to GRATITUDE for what you are doing for the people you will be serving.

    Love and Light,