Saturday, May 15, 2010

new contact

Hi everyone,
I had my cell phone stolen at the end of march. My new number is 59798168 (country code 266) Sorry I havent blogged for awhile, but I will get back into it within the next few weeks.

Saturday, January 30, 2010


Khotso!!! I finally got some of the pictures from the November HIV/AIDs outreach event in Ha Mohatlane posted. But maybe only half of them. I'll keep working on it. (downloading stuff is really, really, hard here!!!) Thank you so much for all of your support. Oak Hills, thanks for all of the art supplies. They proved to be a great learning tool for the kids. (unfortunately I haven't got the art pics posted yet... I'll keep at it)

What's going on.... so much. Last week, I volunteered in the local secondary school and vocational school to teach life skills for the entire quarter. 2 form A classes,(8th grade) 1 form B (9th grade), 1 form C(10th grade), and a vocational class(16-30).Im having one of my youth teach with me, so that maybe when we are finished with the quarter, she'll be able to do it herself. Something sustainable I hope!!! With my NGO, Im not doing much... In a couple of weeks I will bring in an AG PCV to come in and advise my NGO about agriculture and income generation. For those of you who know me, I know nothing about ag. I had a cactus once and killed it:) My NGO feels like they are unable to continue with the funding that had been supporting my project, so I spent some time in december with my youth and a great trainer from the NGO going to villages telling them we werent coming back. This was very, very hard. My NGO has had a difficult time over the last 9 months out in my village(beginning with my supervisor dying)so for them I guess they are doing what they feel is in everyones best interests. Things have also been difficult for Peace Corps Lesotho as there have been many leadership changes. But, in the last few months my group has gotten a new APCD. (who seems like a great guy) We are getting a new country director in a few weeks, (she has already come out for a couple of week visit and seems like she will be a good, strong leader)So, hopefully very soon I will be able to receive some desparately needed PC support to help me sort out this situation. I can keep busy doing stuff, but I want to feel like Im making a contribution to my NGO (cause I know they care and I like them very much!!!) As a Peace Corps volunteer, you usually try to tough out problems and solve them yourselves. Or, as we were correctly told during our training "we are our own best resources." I agree with this, so Im feeling like Im somehow failing by honestly admitting that I really need PC support with this sooner rather than later.

Other news... Im just finishing my Peace Corps report for the last quarter and realized a lot has gone on. We finally had this big event out in my village... and it went well. Kids learned alot about HIV/AIDs and had a great time. I was able to go to several schools and teach life skills to kids, ages 8-25. They learned a lot and I had a blast. I got mugged for the second time in maseru which makes me now pretty nervous when Im in Maseru. The Police were...less than responsive. But Peace Corps was wonderful.

A great thing happened and I was able to conduct a teachers workshop re: life skills during the school break. It was great to work with some teachers who were really interested. I was very busy through the end of nov with my NGO educating the older residents in the villages about HIV/AIDs and saw some great discussions going on. My group had its halfway reconnect and we had our all volunteer conference... both of which were necessary, but somewhat stressful (mostly because of all the changes in Peace corps that began last June)

One of my favorite kids in the entire world was beaten within an inch of his life (if you saw him, you wouldnt think someone could have been beaten that badly and live) and spent 13 days in a coma and remains seriously brain damaged. But a couple of really incredibally wonderful peace corps staff have shown their support.One person...getting him some medical help he wasnt getting, and now getting him into seeing a neurologist in South Africa who can properly assess his brain injury and give us an idea of what we can do to help. Another PC staff offering to take him to S. Africa if needed and help raise the money for the appointment... kindness and love coming out in such wonderful ways.

Im working with the diversity committee on our upcoming, all lowlands diversity camp in early march to be held at my NGO. There will be some great panels and discussions for 60 youth. Im excited about that. And, teaching lifeskills this quarter to 5 classes and training basotho to do it. That's a good thing (and needed), but Im sad it's not with my NGO (one form A class Im teaching has 74 students and 20 desks built for 2... and a leaky tin roof. 4 kids to many desks...crazy)

Will I stay an extra year or go home? I haven't quite made up my mind yet. While some great stuff has happened this last quarter, there's also been a lot of discouraging stuff and my heart is a bit heavy right now. But, Ive learned so much and think there's more I can do to help. We'll see. I'll decide very soon and let you know.

Thanks again for all of your support. Have a great 2010!!!!

Salang hantle. (stay well)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

TOGETHER WE CAN, or... better than slice bread

Hi everyone,

Its almost Thanksgiving... that's hard to remember for me cause it's getting so hot. So the big HIV/Aids outreach event happened... It was Nov. 7th. There was soccer,an art and drama competition. Hundreds of kids showed up, 7 other pcv's came to help,a bunch of people from my NGO Lesotho Durham Link came and was crazy... in a good way!!!! Will post pics within a few weeks (i hope)Here's how it went:

10:00am: I met my Peer promoters in TY for the final shopping of food and supplies. One business didn't come through on the soccer balls we promised to schools. They did have the pumps, but with no needles. The Peer promoters dealt with most of it and kept me from screaming... or something worse.

2pm: Ntate Martin, a trainer from LDL came in a truck, helping us to transport everything to Ha Mohtlane, including stopping to pick up the tents we rented. Martin is an angel

3pm:Meeting supposed to start with 20 Peer educators who are volunteering to help. No one here.

3:30 one here

3:45. 12 peer educators here. Peer promoters run the meeting, assign jobs, reimburse transport.... Peer promoters rock!!!

4:30. Youth walk down to the soccer pitch to line it and divide it up into 4 fields. Peer promoters and educators rock!!!

4:30-6. PCV's come and start helping to prep for next day. 590 loaves of bread were delivered to Ha Mohatlane for lunch for the kids at the event. Their were clear directions (in sesotho) to bring sliced loaves of bread. 200 loaves are unsliced.

7:00: Spaghetti dinner served to peer promoters and PCV's. The pasta got forgotten while cooking and was one lump.. (...Oscar...) But, sauce that Oz made was so good, and we were so hungry, it all go eaten

8-12:30 Lunches for kids prepped. Hours and hours spent slicing 200 loaves of bread.. only one bread knife

12:30. All PCV's plead exhaustion and go to bed. Bread not finished being sliced. Everyone still joking... for now

11/07/09 4:30 am. I lay in my sleeping bag listening to a torrential downpour. REALLY? Give me a break... thinking about crying and hiding in my sleeping bag. Maybe no one will see me

5:30. Serve breakfast to all. Everyone says "don't worry, the rain will stop" Im not sure. I stand outside in the rain looking. The sky is one solid mass of grey/black.

6:00 Rain stops.

7:00 Martin shows up and we move tables chairs, tents, art supplies.... out to the pitch. Everything sets up quickly...

8:00 All schools supposed to be here to register...

815 First school shows up

8:45 Rest of the schools show up. Registration is a nightmare. Kids coming from every direction. If it weren't for Oscar, Elizabeth and Teboho.... trying to decide if I can still hide in my sleeping bag

9:00 Event supposed to start

10:00 Event starts. We have a dj (thanks Martin) sound equipment... people pouring in.
10:15-1. Soccer tournament (5 on 5) and art competition get under ways. Kids play really hard (barefooted, hurts my feet to watch) Art competition going well... kids love to do art

10:30: A bunch of people go back to the house to finish lunch and slicing the damn bread. Thank goodness it wasn't me. Thanks Teboho!!

11:00 Face painting breaks out near the art tent. I was sat down and an elaborate, multicolored "disco" is painted on my face. Appropriate, cause anyone who knows me knows my passion for dancing!!!!

1230-130 Lunch. We fed the participants. They loved that. A lot of little primary school kids lined up looking sad, skinny and hungry hoping we had extras. This was the worst moment for me Ive had in many months. If it had been up to me, I would've given them all the food, and the participants who hadn't eaten yet would have found nothing. Thanks Teboho

2:00 The wonderful Masotho man who was conducting the free testing and counseling left. He ran out of supplies. The response for people getting tested was unusually overwhelming. Sometimes, people are afraid of being seen going into the tents..It was wonderful that so many tested.

2:00 Drama competition supposed to start.

3-430: Drama competition. Everyone stayed. The drama and art were all around the theme of how Hiv/Aids effects your community. The kids were all prepared and did a great job. So many people learned so much!

5:00 Event supposed to end

5:00-6: Awards given out (the kids were so excited over hearing their names and receiving certificates)Thank you's said from Lesotho Durham Link and the man representing the chief of the village.

6:00 PCV's with trash bags picked up all the trash on the field. Little kids running up to all of us with their little fists full of trash wanting to help

6-7:15 Tents broken down, everything moved back to the house

8:00 BRAII (b-b-que) Peer promoters and PCVs demolished 6 kilograms of chicken. Thanks Vic for cooking!!! (everyone knows that b-b-que is a guys job:))

9:00 All receipts collected from peer promoters

915: Taking advantage of a generator... watching John Grisham film

9:30 Everyone asleep in chairs, on the floor


8:00 People stagger up.. French toast and fruit for breakfast

11:00 Everyone goes home!!!

It was a good day, with some good (and I hope sustainable) results. A special thanks to PCV's Brice,Jackie, Andre, Karolina, Oscar, Vic and Sejake... thanks you guys, couldn't have done it without you!!. Thanks to David and Elizabeth, missionaries from England who came and worked so hard and kept me laughing. Thanks to Ntate Martin for....everything!!! Thanks to Oak Hills church for all of the art supplies. The kids were so happy!!!Thanks to Ntate Stephen and Lesotho Durham Link for all of their help and support. And especially, thanks to Polo, Masontaha, Teboho and Lebuse.... you guys did it!!! You planned it, ran it... it was beautiful and so are you!!!!.

Again, pics in a few weeks. Thanks everyone for all the support and prayers. Have a great Thanksgiving
Salang Hantle!


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Things I thought I'd never get used to... but did (and sometimes even enjoy)

Hi everyone.

Im in town for the quarterly VAC meeting. (volunteer advisory committee) Its been a really busy last few months, which is good.. to a point. Im getting really tired and after my nov 7th event next weekend (and all the reporting that goes with it) I plan to take a break. Im not sure what exactly. Maybe a day in bed reading, or hopping over to South Africa to Ladybrand for one slow afternoon to go to an awesome coffee shop called Living Life that has wonderful food and actual customer service. In December, I may go to Swaziland for a few days. There have been some extra challanges the last month and Im feeling a big pull to get out of the country for a bit. We'll see.

When I got off the Kombi this morning for the 30 minute walk to the Peace Corps training center this morning, I was noticing things and wondering about the fact that the things that just made me stop and start 17 months ago, I don't even notice any more (at least not too much) So I thought Id bore you and share the things that I thought I'd never get used to, but did:

-The sight of my family gathering cow poop to form into patties and dry them on the hill to use for fuel (and the smell that goes along with cooking with cow patties)
-Myself using cow patties to braii with (bar-b-que)
-27 people traveling together in a 15 seater Kombi
-toddlers naked from the waist down being put on my lap in Kombis
-live chickens on kombis
-toddlers running around naked and stopping anywhere to squat and poop
-Hauling water from 20 minutes away.
-Not bathing for ____ days because Im too lazy to haul water.
-Going to bed in the winter as soon as it gets dark in order to stay warm
-jumping up and down everytime I get a letter or package
-Being anxious and looking over my shoulder everytime I come into Maseru. (recently got mugged for the second time.. no fun)
-Maseru police not caring when someone mugs you and not even wanting to open a report. (unfortunately, I am getting used to that)
-Tab... (remember Tab?)
-Sitting outside my rondavel with my family in the winter, turning the chair to stay in the sun and keeping warm
-Having the cutest Basotho children in my rondavel to draw
-Marriage proposals from under 25 year old herd boys.
-Marriage proposals from over 25 year old herd boys.
-Papa and moroho (vegies)
-Papa and nama (meat)
-just papa... and more papa
-kids asking for candy and money
-people pointing and saying "lakhooa, lakhooa" (white person)
-hot russians from street vendors covered in vinegar
-really fun basotho youth who like to talk and dont even know what email is.

Just a few random thoughts. I hope all is well in America. Ill be back to email in a few weeks. Ill try and post pics from the event. Im also updating my wish list.. several people asked for me to do this.. but remember, letters, phone calls and emails rock!!!
Salang Hantle


Next Saturday, after months of planning, my youth and I are hosting an HIV/AIDs outreach day in the village Ha Mohatlane. There are 9 primary and secondary schools who are attending. It 9-5 and will include a soccer tournament,free HIV/AIDs testing and counselling, dancing, (which my youth say I must participate in)art and drama competition all around the theme "How HIV affects me and my community." It is different planning a big event here. Here are a few of the things that have happened.. both good and not so good.

Not so good: The funding for this event is coming from an American grant. Because of the dollar dropping so much over the last 6 months, by the time the grant was approved we received 3000 rand less than was originally approved... and prices here are not going down. I have spent 13 hours in the band trying to work out getting the ATM card to work for the account the money was deposited in. No good as of today. And, since the account was on the same card as my personal account, I have not had ATM access to the grant or my own account for over a month... (and, everytime I have to come to the bank in Maseru to try to fix it costs me an entire day, between time waiting and public transport) We are giving every school participating 2 soccer balls and a pump. The business we gave the money to 6 weeks ago (we put half down) yesterday told me it would be 20 rand more per ball. 20 rand times 16 balls... with 3000 rand less budget.. and here there is no manager to talk to, no recourse... ah...

The good stuff: 4 peer promoters who are doing this for free and working harder than I've seen a volunteer work on a project. For example, walking to 8 villages, 3 times to deal with principals, teachers and students, and one day in the torrential rain that only seems to come to Lesotho to make sure that every kid has a chance to participate. Oak Hills Church in California sent us a ton of really good art supplies that you can't get here, so that kids can learn about HIV/AIDs through art. 16 people from my NGO, Lesotho Durham Link, all volunteering to come out to help. 20 peer educators from surrounding villages and 7 other peace corps volunteers coming to help and support. It's really an amazing thing.

So like everywhere else in the world, both good things and headaches for this event. But different good and bad stuff... its been quite a learning experience.

Hopefully, all will go well and the kids will learn alot. I've said it before, but it bears repeating. Lesotho has the highest rate of AIDs in Africa, and the third highest in the world. So hopefully, the kids will have fun,learn something and grow up to be adults who can help Lesotho.

Thanks for all your support!!! Pray for no rain.

Salang Hantle (stay well)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Hi everyone.

Im in Maseru for my groups mid service training. ("reconnect") My last boss (apcd) left at the beginning of June. She was finally replaced by a new guy... transfered over from Guyana. Big move! Seems like a good guy. Our CD (country director) is leaving as of today to be the country director of Uganda. No replacement yet. So my new APCD is the acting country director until a replacement comes. Welcome to Lesotho.

Things are going well!!! We just had a "speak aloud" in my district of Berea. Speak alouds are focusing on gender issues and HIV/Aids. It went well. The youth had a good time and good discussion was generated. On Nov 7th, my youth group is hosting a big, 8 village targeted HIV/Aids outreach. There will be a soccer tournament, arts competition, free testing and counseling, teaching through drama and music... Thank you so much Oak HIlls church! They are sending us a bunch of art supplies, which are very difficult to get here. Kids in Lesotho love to do art. They don't normally get to do it. It should be fun!!!

Gotta go home today. Yea! The last thing... I got a couple of packages from home yesterday. Everything was great. In one of them was a beautiful quilt made by the kids at River Rock. It made me cry. You guys are wonderful. Thanks so much!!

Salang Hantle (stay well)