Dafydd Gwylon remembers Swaneng I was a 23 year old IVS

Dafydd Gwylon remembers Swaneng I was a 23 year old IVS volunteer from Wales when I arrived at Swaneng. When I arrived it was good to have the communal meals where we could chat and share experience and learn about Swaneng. I was expected to teach Development Studies and I found the course to be relevant to life in Botswana but it was a challenge to teach the subject while preparing the course material! It was stimulating to be at the Development Studies department meetings and listen to Robert Oakeshott and Patrick and later Mr. Ghosh from India. I lived next door to the Ghosh family and I was also expected to do some boarding master’s duties. I found the input at staff meetings from people like Harriet and Jenni helped me to appreciate some of the Issues at school and outside affecting staff and students. I was keen to learn Setswana and some students and staff helped me, especially Deirdre Stanley. My efforts with the local languages helped me to understand more of the customs and values. There were also the quiet more creative members of staff like Peter Whiteley so skilled at making clothes, cooking and metalwork etc. I was also impressed with the fresh milk and, yoghurt and vegetables delivered from the Farmers Brigade and I was made to feel welcome regularly by the various families that helped to deal with my “hiraeth”**. I learnt some useful tips for gardening from Marianne and Peter. While performing some boarding house duties, I heard more of the students’ complaints regarding the meals that were prepared by the cooking co-­‐op. As a result Patrick asked me to be involved in the ordering of food and the cooking. I had very little experience but I tried to help and I learnt a lot! The building of the school hall was the “Big Project” and at Patrick’s suggestion I also joined a small Boiiteko group to build a stone house for a local family [to replace the mud house]. The journeys to the workcamps at Tutume in the back of the truck were painful but also fun. There was so much laughter and good spirits and so much hard work! It was another experience again to teach and live at the Farmers’ Brigade. Jane Natai [née Evans] was very considerate in providing me with nourishing meals! There are so many other memories! The general friendliness of people [especially after my initial “dumela”!], gaining confidence to start dancing at the various parties and weddings, enjoying singing some new hymns at the Serowe church, the little library and Inger helpful with information and Vernon checking on my tree planting, Alas! I do suspect it was probably bewildering for many Batswana to see so MANY changes in Swaneng and Serowe in such a short time and also the changeover in staff and manpower but I am still moved by the principles and energy that were at work at Swaneng. Back in Wales, with a lot of help we managed to provide two Swaneng people with a year’s scholarship each at two Welsh agricultural colleges in the early ‘70’s. They were Otsogile Pitso and the late Kobamelo Dintwa. I returned to Serowe in 2007 for the Farmers’ Brigade reunion and it was so good to talk to Patrick and Otsogile again. People’s general standard of living had obviously much improved. I am also grateful to Tom Holzinger for his regular correspondence over the years. As a result I got to know Robert Oakeshott better in later years as well as a few other former Swaneng staff. Dafydd Gwylon 31/1/2014 **longing for the more familiar.