As I mentioned in my last post, this is our second time settling into the city of Gaborone. In that post, I reviewed how to get your immediate necessities taken care of: transport, phone, groceries, and household purchases.
For Part 2, I am going to continue with resources for how to get your children enrolled in nursery/primary/secondary schools, find a child-friendly gym, get your family connected to the internet, find a domestic helper and get plugged into the community.
For foreign residents, there may be some things about Botswana you find particularly new. For example, if you come from a country where all your fuel stations are self-serve, you’ll be blown away by the fact that your petrol or diesel is pumped at the station by attendants. They will usually wash your windscreen (windshield), check your oil/water, and even your tire pressure. After the full-service ‘pit stop’, I generally give the attendant a small tip for his effort.
Another tip you may have realised is that it isn’t a good idea to leave your purse on the front seat next to you and you should probably lock your doors when you’re driving around. There is an issue with smash & grabs while sitting at the robot (traffic light), so I generally leave my purse in the floor behind my seat or in the boot (trunk).
I should have mentioned this in the last post, but if you go from one grocery store or shop at the mall into another, you’ll likely find out the hard way that you need to check your parcels at the parcel counter. They will keep it in a numbered cubby and give you a matching number card so you can retrieve it when you’ve finished your shopping.
The other thing which might be new at the grocery store is getting your produce weighed and stickered in the produce section BEFORE proceeding to the till/check-out stations.
Generally, one of the biggest items on a new expat’s to-do list is finding schools for children. There are several nursery schools which are very popular: the Peo family of schools (Dipeo, Peo, Peo Mela), Little Einsteins/Humpty Dumpty by Little Einsteins, Playmates, Jack & Jill, and Cinderella nursery schools.
If your child is older (4.5 and up), you may be looking for a primary school. Northside Primary School, Thornhill Primary School & Westwood International School are all top picks. However, you may find you like the environment of Broadhurst Primary School or The Learning Centre School better.
As for secondary school, Westwood International & Maru-a-Pula Schools are the two biggest names you’ll hear, but there are other secondary schools so ask around on one of the parent Facebook groups if you’d like other recommendations.
[Editor’s Note: Soon Family Gems will be adding listings and reviews for schools. Sign up if you’d like to be notified when these are online!]
If you are craving a good gym and need one that has programs also for young children, you may want to check out Virgin Active Gym at Airport Junction Mall. They have Club-V & Club-V Max for young children up to teens (respectively) that includes active play, arts, games, and coaching.
The older kids will enjoy time in the pools, high-intensity interval training class, use the gym floor, squash courts, and chill out zone. They also have a nursery/crèche for the little ones and holiday camps during school holidays. The Virgin Active Gym also offers swimming classes for children which are a separate cost from their clubs.
There are various internet companies in Gaborone, but the ones you may wish to contact starting out are OPQnet, BBI, VBN, Microteck, and BTC. Leave a comment below if you have another company you really like and would like us to it add to this section.
There are quite a few places in town to find a TV or other electronics you may have not packed with you. In Riverwalk, you can check out Hi-Fi Corp (with sale prices from Thursday-Sundays) & Home Corp. Near Game City, one of the biggest stores with a wide selection would be Game (Wal-mart for Southern Africa).
If you find yourself near Airport Junction, House & Home sells TVs while Incredible Connection is a great place for TVs as well as computers & accessories. Any of these stores may also sell the DSTV decoders (satellite provider) and satellite dishes. Ask around at the store for who they recommend for installation.
We purchased our TV on a great deal at Hi-Fi and one of the salesmen also installed it for us after work hours. You can also find gaming systems/games for your children like Playstation & Xbox, but I haven’t seen Wii here at all.
This category is going to be broad in terms of ‘help’. Initially you may need a housekeeper, gardener, or nanny. Usually these are found best by word of mouth, but you are new here, right?, so unless you have someone in your company to give some recommendations, you may wonder where to find a helper. Try joining Gabs Kids Club, The Gaborone Grapevine or Find It in Gabs Facebook groups to ask for recommendations. There are a few start-up companies which offer to match you with helpers, but I’ve not had any personal experience with them, so just carefully interview anyone they recommend.
Maybe life has also been a little overwhelming for your family while you are settling, so I found an app for smartphone users called Botswana Post. You can purchase airtime as well as BPC kilowatt hours for your electric meter. The quantities are small, but in an emergency, it has saved my neck a few times!
Perhaps the type of help you need is more community-type help. You may have heard, “It takes a village to raise a child”, but you don’t even begin to have a village in your new town. How do you find your tribe?
Some popular ways to get plugged in would be to join SensoBaby for mommy & me classes, or go to one of their Cuppa Love events for new parents. Join Gaborone Kids Club to suggest a meet-up with other local parents or visit the Botswana Family Gems page to find family-friendly places & events around town so you can meet other families.
Additionally, Ladies No. 1 Coffee Shop in the village and Sanitas Tea Garden are usually crawling with children and families in the afternoons and weekends, so you’ll be sure to make friends by way of your children playing together.
My last piece of advice: step out of your comfort zone and don’t be afraid to ask for a fellow parent’s phone number after a good first conversation, or speak up in the grocery store queue if you find yourself waiting next to someone you think might want to get to know!
Welcome to Gaborone! You’re going to love living here.