'Pula, Pula, Pula' recounts the experience of working as a small part of the great development machinery, interspersed with the adventures Robyn and Alan had in their time off. The book provides fascinating insights into the two critical fields in which the couple were working: HIV/AIDS and human rights. These issues, Botswana's history, its land and people, its development and its fabulous wildlife are each a part of the story. The book is well-researched and draws extensively on the couple's observation of development efforts in practice. The issues are presented in an eminently readable form, laced with Robyn's own, sometimes highly amusing, vignettes.
The term "African development" conjures up images of drought, famine, starvation, war, corruption and poverty. However, development spans much more than emergency relief. After initially feeling unadventurous when told that "Botswana is Africa for beginners", Robyn discovers that Botswana not only has real needs, but that as is a country already well along the development road, it was able to take good advantage of the couple's business skills.
During the two years Robyn learns much about development. As she says in Chapter 2:
A life change
Welcome to Gaborone
Birth of a new career?
Turning 40 with the elephants
Life as a DW
No one said it would be easy
Pula, pula, pula
Life & death
Celebration & appraisal
A final adventure
Passing of a phase
This associated website shows hundreds of Robyn's photographs from her life, work and travel around Botswana
Website & photos copyright 2007
PULA, PULA, PULA
Published by Wild Dog Publising
Paper back, 23.4 x 15.6 cm
319 pages, including 77 full colour photographs
"In the dim and distant past Alan and I had both studied economics at university. As I packed up the house, I discovered a thesis I had written that supposedly assessed the effectiveness of international development funding. I threw it in the bin. I did not have to re-read it to know that it would fall far short of reality."
'Pula, Pula, Pula' presents a balanced picture of the needs, issues and development successes in Botswana. On the one hand, poverty, drought, even malnutrition and certainly HIV/AIDS are very real challenges for the government and people. However, Botswana's political stability, mineral wealth and relative lack of corruption mean that efforts to address these problems have a good chance of success. Robyn and Alan's experiences of providing fundraising and business support to civil society organisations in such a context show what could be possible across Africa.
Robyn and Alan were two of about twenty Skillshare International development workers, or DWs, in Botswana. Thanks to Skillshare they not only gained a deep understanding of their own areas of work, but also saw something of the work of other DWs in the Skillshare network.
To learn more, read some excerpts from 'Pula, Pula, Pula'.
Buy 'Pula, Pula, Pula' here.
Two years in search of money, rain & blessings for Botswana
Ian Haworth, fellow Skillshare Development Worker and good friend, had quite a different experience from Robyn and Alan. His DW story at the far end of Botswana and some of his photographs feature in 'Pula, Pula, Pula'.