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"Dumela" (the Setswana greeting) everyone,

and welcome to my blog that I will keep for the time I will be spending in Gaborone, Botswana from April 24 until July 21, 2008!

In the course of my legal training, which takes two years in Germany, I will be working for Ditshwanelo - Botswana Centre for Human Rights. It is located in Botswana's capital Gaborone, one of the fastest growing cities worldwide with a current population of roughly 200,000 people.

Botswana is a stable democracy in Southern Africa, located North of South Africa, East of Namibia, West of Zimbabwe and South of Zambia. You'll find more information at Wikipedia.

Ditshwanelo was founded in 1993 by Ms.
Ditshwanelo Office
Alice Mogwe, who is still director of the centre. It is the only organization in Botswana dealing with all aspects of human rights. They work to advocate for changes in laws, policies and practices, and to raise public awareness of rights and responsibilities. Also, Ditshwanelo provides paralegal services to those earning less than the minimum wage.

I applied for a placement with them last spring and was accepted in June 2007. Ever since, I have been looking forward to getting there and start learning about human rights work first hand and in the field. In the course of my University studies from 1997 until 2003, I took some classes on international human rights and since have focused on constitutional law in Germany. Besides this, I have a degree from my university in Anglo-American Law.
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It was a four-semester course that taught legal English as well as certain aspects of American and English law. I suppose this will help me in Botswana.

Once Ditshwanelo accepted my application, my employer, the Higher Regional Court of Koblenz, had to agree to this placement. After some deliberations, the responsible person agreed to it.

Ever since, I have been preparing for this trip: mentally by reading books and reports about Botswana, money-wise by buying all sorts of equipment that I lacked.

I finished the written part of my bar exam on Monday, and now have a mere 8 days to go until I leave Germany. I am flying to Johannesburg and will continue by bus from there. The flights to Gaborone tend to be rather expensive, so I relied on a hint in an intern-paper. I booked the bus transfer today, using my VISA-card, paying an astounding 120 South African Rand, which is approx. 11 euros or $17 (wild guess here!) for the 7 hour ride in a Western style tour bus. It is with Intercape, South Africa's largest privately owned carrier.

I will be arriving in Johannesburg with Etihad Airways, an ultra-modern Arabian airline that operates from Abu Dhabi. I will fly out of Frankfurt to Abu Dhabi, switch airlines in the middle of the night and then arrive in Jo'burg at around 10 AM on April 24th. Then I will shuttle via taxi to Johannesburg Bus Terminal, avoiding the city that I have come to fear, listening to reports from a semi-South African friend whose family is from there. The bus will be leaving at 2 PM and I will reach Gaborone at 9 PM (I hope I will be able to catch some sleep during the ride).

In Gaborone I will be picked up by Stefan, an intern with the German foundation FES. He was friendly enough to volunteer to come and pick me up. From there, we will go to the apartment for interns of FES where I will be staying for the first couple of days. It is already full, but they have been kind enough to let me come and stay for the first days. FES has been incredibly helpful in arranging for a couple of things, so I am really looking forward to seeing these people and being able to thank them in person!

That's all for the start...will try to keep this thing updated as good as I can!
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Ditshwanelo Office
Ditshwanelo Office
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Bonn
photo by: petrarchanprincess