Thursday, June 25, 2009


This is the you tube address to a Paul Farmer video about health care and poverty. It's only a little over 3 minutes and well worth the watch. Sometimes, I wonder how much can really be done here that is truly sustainable.This re charged and inspired me. Hope you are all well.

Salang Hantle!

Sunday, June 21, 2009


I've hit my one year anniversary. Its hard to believe. Im glad Im still here, but I wouldn't say its been a lot of fun.Im beginning another cold African winter and reflecting on what Ive learned over the course of a year. I've learned that American culture and Basotho culture is so different, that problems will arise no matter how hard I or my Basotho friends and colleagues try. Ive learned that thatched roofs are warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer than tin roofs. I've learned that mud dung walls are great because you can put thumb tacks in it to hang things up. I've learned that cats are the only sure fire cure for rats... but if as soon as the cat is gone, the rat comes back. I've learned that religion in Africa is practiced way differently than religion in America. I've learned people who are beaten down as children, grow up to beat down other children. I've learned that you sound better playing the guitar in the dark. I've learned that candles put out just enough light to write letters to the people you love. I've learned that a hug from a child (or sometimes an adult) can completely change your week. I've learned that while beating is effective to obtain obedience from children, it is completely uneffective to encourage children to initiate and think creatively. I've learned that I have acquired the confidence to try anything. I've learned that it's ok to fail, but never to give up. Ive learned that despite our extreme cultural differences, we all share hopes, dreams and our mutual humanity.

In this last year, my counterpart, my 2 favorite little kids and my supervisor have died. In this last year I have started a youth group, trained peer promoters, taught secondary school, hosted events, met volunteers from all over America and have become close to several Basotho youth, who have taught me more than I have taught them. Year 2 begins and I have plans for the next 15 months, but I have learned not to count on anything and be open to whatever happens. I am not in control here, and that is a really good thing. I've noticed that amazing things happen when Im not so stuck in my "plans" and leave room for things/ people to evolve.

Yesterday, I went to my supervisors funeral. It was an Anglican service, combined with traditional Basotho culture. It was a long service, with many people who were involved of each aspect of my supervisors life, delivering eulogies. And in between each eulogy, was singing. Either traditional music or hymns in sesotho. One of the last songs was "joy to the world" in sesotho, sung in a very slow, sad and beautiful manner. It was a reminder of home and somewhat bitter sweet. After the service, everyone went to the cemetary. The casket was lowered into the ground,with a freshly slaughtered animal skin put on top of it, while the Basotho men took turns filling in the grave. Everyone sang during this part. The singing turned from sad to joy filled, with dancing at the same time. By the time the burial was over, there seemed to be a certain amount of closure. A lesson to be learned perhaps?

It was a sad day. Sad to me because my supervisor suffered through a long sickness without talking to people about it. He suffered alone. His choice, but still sad. I hope that he is resting in peace.

In May, I hosted a diversity camp in my district of Berea.There is not much diversity in Lesotho (98% of Lesotho are black basotho) Speakers at camp covered issues such as HIV/AIDs and the stigma associated with it, the dislike between the Chinese and the Basotho, homosexuality, actually living with HIV.... all the speakers were wonderful and got the students really talking, thinking and asking questions. Anytime you can get students here to do that, its a success.

Im helping a little bit with training the new CHED group who has been here 2 weeks.There are 16 of them, one married couple and all seem pretty wonderful. Most of the sessions Im assisting with have to do with working with youth here. Next weekend, we will be taking 2 or three of them home with us for 4 days so they can get a very small taste of what its like.

In August, I will be helping with a "Speak aloud" in my district, which works with students and deals with gender issues. The youth group will continue to teach and hopefully have fun. We just went on a field trip to a local farmer who uses irrigation for his farm (very rare here) grows only the crops that no one else does and are in high demand in the city, and is about to make his live stock free range... which will satisfy a huge market in Maseru, and as he says "make his pigs really happy."

Ok, that's it for now. I hope all is well in America. Let me know how you are all doing at home.

Salang hantle