Friday, October 31, 2008

Pula ea na!!!!

Pula ea na!! It’s raining. We had rain and hail 4 days in a row. The storms here are sudden and furious. Not a cloud in the sky, and then quickly the sky turns dark and the lighting comes every 5 seconds the thunder quickly following afterwards… sometimes so loud I can see my tin roof shaking. There were a couple of times I thought that the house was hit. Is this what it’s like in the Midwest? And then it pours rain… and it hails. At one point, I sat in my house watching the hail and I watched a herd boy with his cattle walk by, wrapped in a blanket looking wet and miserable. Ya gotta feel for the herd boys. Hopefully it will keep raining. As I walked through the village this week, I saw people planting their fields. Lets hope!

Its beginning to get hot here in Lesotho. And the tin roof definitely hold the heat in. it cold down at night, but to take advantage, you have to open the window, which have no screens- so all the bugs come in and of course are attracted to the candle light. I know many of you know how I am about bugs, so stop laughing. I’ve started using my mosquito netting while I sleep which should keep the bugs spiders and scorpions off me… I hope.

In a couple of weeks, 5 of my students and I will be training for 5 days at the LDL facility in Maseru. When we come back, we will start going into the villages to teach and look for other Peer Educators. The youth are great to work with. I love their enthusiasm. I’m really proud of them. Lesotho can change and the young people will be the ones to make it happen.

Besides learning about HIV/Aids, we also are having a little fun, sharing Basotho and American culture. I am teaching them about photography. A friend sent me a film camera and a bunch of film. I am teaching them photography 101 and letting them use the camera to take pictures of things that mean something to them. They are getting into it, and Im interested to see their pictures when the film gets developed. Thanks Denise. They have decided to teach me how to play soccer. It tried to explain to them that: 1. Im only good with sports that use hands. 2. Im old. But they insist I can learn, so Im doing my best. If my feel would only follow alongJ

When I was at another PCV’s house recently, he had these 2 quotes hanging on his wall. They made for interesting conversation. I thought I’d post them and would love to hear your thoughts.
Salang Hantle (stay well)

The belief that there was nothing and nothing happened to nothing and then nothing magically exploded for no reason, creating everything and then a bunch of everything magically rearranged itself for no reason whatsoever into self replicating bits which then turned into dinosaurs…Makes perfect sense!

The belief that some cosmic Jewish Zombie can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him that you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your sould that is present in humanity because a vile-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree…Makes perfect sense!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

We are dancing!!

Guest Blogging from Oscar:

It was great to have Merrill and Karrin here for the weekend. My site at Bobete is, as the video says, very remote, and being able to show other volunteers where I live and what I do is a treat. Even more than that, Merrill was my neighbor during training, and one of the closest friends I have in Country. It's been a privledge getting to know her, and working with her this weekend were awesome.

Of course, regualr readers of this blog probably already know how awesome Merrill is, so I'll just go ahead and post the video. One last comment though-- Sex Ed is hillarious in this country. I've never turned so red in my life.

Huh... So Blogger doesn't appear to have a way to embed youtube videos, and directly uploading it is painfully slow. You can watch it either on my blog or youtube (though I would beat my own drum and suggest my blog has interesting Lesotho Peace Corps stuff).

All the best,
Oscar Sinclair,
Peace Corps Bobete

Im in the village of Bobete near the camp town of Thaba Tseka. Another PCV (Karrin) and I took the long trip from Maseru to Bobete to visit another PCV (Oscar) We were able to go with Oscar and his NGO (Catholic Relief Services) on an outreach to the only secondary school around to help teach about HIV/Aids. It was a really good day. Catholic Relief Services is an international org, and has done some great work out in the really, really remote areas of Lesotho. And Bobete is remote. Its at about 10,000 feet and the only way to get to it is by plane or 4 wheel drive. But back to that in a minute.
It was great to work with the students (probably age range of about 14-20) They were so excited and asked so many great questions. Some seemed really interested in being a part of change for Lesotho. It was very encouraging and made me feel like there was hope for lasting, sustainable change. The outreach was friday. Yesterday, we hiked to a nearby mountain and sat on the top and just looked out over lesotho.... beautiful mountains, a few rondavels and basically nothing else. Bobete is a very humbling place to be.
Even though Catholic Relief Services is in the middle of nowhere, they have internet. I don't know how, but its good to be able to post. Karrin and I go home tomorrow. Either tomorrow or tuesday Oscar will post on this blog a little video of us that we will make tonight. So if you want to see how ratty Ive become....
The trip between Maseru and Thaba Tseka was crazy. You travel on one old bus that's made for about 50 people and had about 80 on it. People in the aisles, using your head as leaning posts, armpits in the face.... hot and everytime Id reach up and open a window, a Basotho would close it. They dont like open windows on transport here because of evil spirits coming in... The road is starting from 5000 ft going up to 10000. Little 2 way roads, with the huge bus going way to fast, being way too crowed... There's one pass thats called "God help me pass." Its acurately named, as I was pretty sure that we were going to die several times. We got off (finally and happily) in Thaba Tseka, where Oscar and Ntate Mphufi picked us up in a nice 4 wheel truck for the 1 1/2 hour trip to Bobete. I should tell you that Ive never been 4 wheeling before. Up and up this one lane mountain road with the biggest rocks Ive ever seen, cliffs on one side, lighting and thunder, mud and the back wheels slipping constantly... and Ntate Mphufi laughing and saying over and over... "we are dancing, we are dancing." Ah, Lesotho:) Ntate Mphufi is actually a wonderful Basotho man who works with PIH (Partners in health) and was in charge of the outreach. Good guy. The outreach was an hour away at an even more remote place... with scarier 4 wheeling which I got to do backwards... 9 people in a 5 seater. Scared the crap out of me. Almost literally. But, I do love it up here.
So, tomorrow I go home. Ive been told the trip will be shorter, but scarier... going down hill and all. Cant wait.
Hope you are all well. I miss all of you!
Salang Hantle

Dennis, I hear Megan is doing some great stuff!!!

Friday, October 3, 2008



At the end of the Lesotho national anthem, everyone says “Khotso, Pula, Nala.: (Peace, Rain, Prosperity) I think in the end, here in Lesotho you can’[t have peace and prosperity without rain. It’s October and it hasn’t rained yet. It usually starts raining (so I hear) mid
September. After a very, very dry winter, Lesotho gets almost all of its rain from the end of September through December. I’ve heard it comes every afternoon, very heavy. There can even be flash floods… Pula ea na! (Its raining!)But so far, no rain. All of the numerous fields are plowed, but they must wait for the rain to plant. People are getting worried. I’ve heard the word “draught” being mentioned many times. And of course, the rivers are very low and I'm sure at some point the wells (some of them) will dry up. No water for planting, not enough for washing, maybe even drinking… I’m not sure what will happen. I heard that a few weeks ago, the King of Lesotho asked churches to start praying for rain. I think that’s an excellent idea! Did you know that the number one export from Lesotho is water? Hmmm….

I received an email from someone a couple of weeks ago. The largest diamond in the world was recently found in a diamond mine in Lesotho. I wonder how the proceeds are divided up?

I’ve been working with the youth at the vocational school in Ha Mohatlane for about 7 weeks now. There’s a core group of about 6 with a few more who come and go. Good kids! (Sorry, young adults) There is a lot of cultural stuff to fight through though, so at times its slow going- i.e. witch craft, severe stigma against people with HIV, the status, power and decision capabilities of women in this society… so much! Slowly but surely, it seems like the students are starting to accept (I think) that you can’t get HIV by touching someone or by being in the same room with them, or by having a witch cast a spell on you. And, some are staring to accept (I think) that women have the right to say “no” and to insist on using condoms if they want to. We’ll see. On October 8th, my we meet with 10 of the local chiefs from the surrounding villages to ask permission for us to go and teach in the villages, and to get help from them to identify other young people who will also become peer educators. If all goes well, then the core group of youth and I will go to Lesotho Durham Link’s facility in Maseru for a 5 day training and then we will start doing outreach. A time line I'm trying not to hold my breath, but I’m excited.

I found a couple of youth who have said they will volunteer to keep the library open several days a week! And a couple of teachers are actually showing a bit of interest. So, I’m going to be working on the library quite a bit over the next few months. To get it organized and open. Plus, I’m working on a “Books for Africa application to hopefully get reference books that are less than 45 years old, kid’s fiction, picture books, etc… They teach a little bit of English from grad 1 on. After grade 7, it’s all English. They love to read when they can get a hold of books. So some good books at the appropriate age level would be great. If anyone out there would be interested (or several people) in being in charge of a book drive, that would be awesome. What you would do is gather books from people, schools, and churches… by February. $ would also need to be raised for shipping. There is a contact person who’s in charge of the project who helps with whatever is needed, guides us through the process and answers all questions. I supply a list of the genre of books needed and appropriate age levels. ($500 is the estimated cost of shipping about 1000 books, However I'm thinking that since we have some books, and limited room, I’m looking for somewhere in between 300 and 400). I know this is a huge task, but if anyone out there is even remotely interested, please send me an email…

I started teaching English a couple of weeks ago. The students and teachers approached me as I was walking through the village. So far, I love it, but it’s a bit intimidating because… I’m not a teacher and am scared that I don’t have a clue about what Im doing. But the students are real eager for help with an English speaker. There have been a couple of times when students have walked me home, with a million questions about America and have helped me a bit with my Sesotho J So, here’s my next request. If any of you have any suggestions on how to teach English and not be boring to a bunch of 10th graders, I would welcome them!! I’m just there a couple of mornings a week. The students have (most of them) the basics… any hints?

An update on Willard. (My name for the rat(s)) So I haven’t seen one since last time, but I still sweep the droppings out of the pit latrine daily. Last week, I was in there and Willard squeezed under the door, ran up my leg, (RAN UP MY LEG!!!) and up the side, out of the roof. I ran out, with my pants around my hips and had to stifle a huge scream. I walked around the compound for about 15 mins, having quite a melt down, and then went into my house where I just about vowed to never come out and not to eat so I wouldn’t have to use the pit latrine. I thought, “Ok, there is death, poverty, huge differences in culture, every kind of conceivable stressor… am I really going to let a rat running up my leg push me into despair?” YES! I felt like a huge baby but I sent a text to my boss Maria (who’s awesome) and she called me back to confirm that rats running on me was “unacceptable” and greatly encouraged me. (This woman has the patience of a saint!) I’ve already tried to borrow a cat here. I’ve been told the smell of a cat will keep rats away… I’ve asked and been told “no” several times. It was finally explained to me that people don’t loan out their cats because of witchcraft. I might put a spell on it and then when I give it back…. I’m not a cat lover and I’ve resisted, but enough is enough. My students are on the lookout for a kitten or cat for sale. Ill buy food in town this week in preparation. This cat will be my new best friend. Ahh,,, Lesotho.

Lastly, a couple of weekends ago, I visited a fellow PCV who came with my group. Her name is Kaye, she’s from Sacramento and she works at St Rose’s clinic in Peka. I can’t get her blog linked to mine for some reason, but it’s worth checking out. She has some great pictures. She’s at On the Sunday I was there, they had a big celebratory mass for their bishop. Singing, dancing with sticks with horse hair on them, and a huge feast. I got to talk with a bunch of the sisters who live there who are quite wonderful. This clinic does great work with HIV/Aids outreach plus they have a maternity clinic there (not common) And, Kaye has electricity, running water and an indoor flush toilet (no rats) It was like a vacation. I got to charge my laptop. I even got to take a bath… with hot water. At one point, my whole body was submerged in hot water. I’m sure this is what heaven will be like. Here’s a couple of pictures that Kaye took. Thanks Kaye!!

I miss you all, I’m grateful for you all. I love you all.
Salang Hantle!

These 3 pictures were at the Mass in Peka. The 3 girls do a traditional Basotho dance at the beginning of the service. I want one of the skirts!