Our 2007 Trip to Lesotho

Volume 4

In 2007, my wife and I spent 2 months on a "service holiday" in The Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho in Southern Africa.  Below are several posts and pics from that trip describing our work and experiences, made possible by generous donations from our friends and family.

May 11, 2007

Here is the latest update from Meg, just so you all don't think I'm here alone.  The update from me is brief - for a change.

We've buried another animal during our short time here.  Last night, while cooking dinner, I felt the unmistakeable flutter of bat wings brush my ear.  Memo to self: don't cook with the door to the house open.  Now, I did not (immediately) squeal like a little girl.  I calmly walked out of the rondavel before screaming to 'Me Makomiti that there was a bat in our house.  The next 15 minutes were pure comedy as the 3 of us tried to shoo the bat our of our door.  This didn't work and 'Me Makomit did her worst on the little guy.  This was shortly before saying, "Sechaba, you afraid.... you not a man."  So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen.  Meg and Rob: 2; Lesotho animals: 0.  My dignity: lost.

Alll the best,

Hatta

Greetings from MEG. I have been allowed a guest appearance on this page.
I don’t expect my update to be as thorough or analytical as Rob’s have been, I know you just want the down and dirty anyway.
In a very short time we have absorbed many new experiences, usually in awe but often with a confused shake of the head. There are things we expected and others we are certain to never understand.

THINGS THAT MAKE US CRY: ok no tears shed yet, but..
- Toilets, the pit variety. I think I can now take on any US gas station toilet with ease. I have to admit we are actually lucky to have a pit toilet for just our family. Some villages have just 2 or 3 for 100 + people.
- Minibus taxi driving, especially at night. As Rob has described, overcrowded, seats not bolted down, no road laws, no headlights.
- The many people that will spend what little money they have on alcohol or tobacco when we know their young children are at home hungry.
- Turning up for a 10am meeting and nobody else arrives till 12. Can’t really give anyone a hard time since we are the only people I have seen with a watch.
- The sunsets and sunrises. This place makes colors that even Crayola doesn’t know about.

THINGS THAT SHOCK US: about ourselves and the area
- Toilets, yes again.
- Life without running water, electricity, heat, phones, is actually good living. 
- The kindergarten tables are made of beer cans.
- The grace of a woman carrying any imaginable size, shape or objects on her head.
- How young and underdeveloped teens/young adult look. We meet 22 y/o that I would expect to be about 12.
- Rob has a soft spot for our pig. From day one he has been very stressed about the short rope he is tied on, the chickens eating his food, his lack of shade. Maybe the more shocking part, we built him a new home out of stone. We were near argument over who had the best technique of building a rock wall, as if either of us had any idea what we were doing.
- The independence of young kids.  Even at age of 3, they are shopping, walking to pre-school, working around the house.
- The development of our culinary skills with the narrow food choices of bread, beans, cabbage and apples.

FUN EXPERIENCES:
- Toilets. Sometimes the experience can be fun, you never know what you are going to get.
- Our host mother was away for the weekend and our host brother had some friends over to roast some corn on the fire. A different sort of party than I would have had at 16.
- Watching lightening and rain storms in the distant mountains. Thunder and hail has been cool too.
- Girls and women will run after me for a chance to tell me I have a hair in my face, always with the hope they can touch it. If I have the time, I will let them try to pull my hair back again. Since they are not familiar with elastic hair bands (let alone a plastic claw clip!) it can take a long time before I get my hair back.
- Walking, we try and make a long walk each week. We are in a gorgeous valley and have visited waterfalls, rock pools, gorges, rivers and many vistas.
- 10 hours of sleep every night.

THINGS WE ARE STILL TRYING TO FIGURE OUT:
- Toilets, the technique.
- Our host mother is up at 4am to sweep the dirt around the house. Literally all sides of the house and out to the road. Sweeping outside is done with a bunch of sticks tied together; indoor sweeping is with straw tied together.
- What happened to TAB in the US, it is everywhere and we love it!
- Nobody ever introduces anyone.
- Sesotho, the local language, clicking can be very hard.
- How they find a use for everything. There is no waste, except for the many chip bags that seem to be littered everywhere.
- How we can stay longer!!
In our short time here we have been warmly welcomed into the community.  Although, I am not sure what they think of Rob, he has been caught doing “woman’s work” several times.  The neighbour just laughs when she sees me and tells me how she saw Rob washing dishes while I was in the house sleeping.  He also cooks, cleans and collects water, all jobs only done by women. In all fairness, he did some serious “man” work by cutting up a huge tree using a hammer and some wedges. If it was up to me I would have blown the budget on a chainsaw. Luckily, he managed well and now our family has wood for the entire winter.

Speaking of budget, thanks again to everyone that gave so generously.  We are very proud to have such a large amount of funding and to know it came direct from family and friends.  Most groups and volunteers could not reach $12,000 without going to large corporations or wide community fundraising.  Your support is really special important to us and makes our work here even more rewarding. 
With that, I am happy to report, our first big purchase…. a double tin toilet shed.  Let me explain, male and female, two doors, two seats, one big hole.  Not top of the line, but close. It is much needed and will service a family, cafe and common community area. 

WORK UPDATES: again, more brief than Rob would like!
- Computer center (that is generous, there are only 3 systems) up and running.
- Have trained some locals as teaching assistance for the computer curriculum Rob developed.
- Meg has written 12 health education lessons; each is 2 hours of interactive adult learning on topics from hygiene, nutrition, HIV/AIDS and dying.
- Rob has helped develop a local Youth Arts Club. They draw, paint and mold clay or tin and sell to tourists.
- Meg has worked a few shifts at the HIV clinic.
- Materials for market stall area are ordered, contractor has been arranged, now just working through some red tape around land and removing some squatters.

THANKS AGAIN FOR ALL YOUR LOVE AND SUPPORT

Our Generous Supporters

  • Amol & Ursula Sarva
  • Andrew Blachman & Galya Reuter
  • Andy & Mary Nickerson
  • Ben Hatta
  • Beth & George Panstares
  • Beth & Ty Grossman
  • Bobby & Jackie Douglas
  • Brad & Nicole Davies
  • Bryan Vaniman
  • Carl Peterson & Heather Dowling
  • Carrie & Brian Cason
  • Christi & Brian White
  • Cindy Gilmore
  • Claire Kfouri & Forest Flager
  • Claudia Wong & Morgan Parker
  • Dave & Karen Costin
  • Donna & Dave McIlvaine
  • Duncan & Yuki Finch
  • Eric Ballard
  • Fiona Wright
  • Frank O'Linn
  • Georgina Derrick
  • Glenn Epis
  • Graham & Lucy Morrell
  • Harlon & Cynde Lee
  • iTunes Europe
  • Jack & Coletta Mulloy
  • Jack Mulloy Jr.
  • Jackie Combine & DanMarks
  • Jackie Piascik
  • Jeff & Laura Grant
  • Jeff & Anne Walkenhorst
  • Jeff Boortz
  • Jessie Teitz
  • Jimmy & Karyn Aguirre
  • Joe Egender
  • John & Cris Lieb
  • Jon Deweezie Stull
  • Josette & Morty Bryce
  • Katie Beirne
  • Katie Glynn & Rich Boguki
  • Kevin & Catherine Butler
  • Kris & Gary Phillips
  • Lynn & Bill Graham
  • Marilyn & Jim Mulloy
  • Mark & Denise Williams
  • Mark Petahs
  • Mark Skold
  • Mike & Lin Fisher
  • Mike Hsieh
  • Mike Mulloy
  • Mike Shaggy O'Boyle
  • Nima & Christine Farzan
  • PK & Heather Deaner
  • Parand "Z" Zendehrouh
  • Paul Wehrley
  • Paul & Gwen Phillips
  • Phil Edelin
  • Phil & Alison Talarcek
  • Reed Hastings
  • Rosemary & JR Heier
  • Ryan & Sarah Aylward
  • Ryan & Stephanie Dawson
  • Ryan Barnes
  • Ryan & Jodi Craig
  • Sal Bednarz
  • Selina Tobaccowalla
  • Simon Paragreen
  • Tadaaki & Susan Hatta
  • Taylor Meritt
  • Tolithia Kornweibel
  • West London Centre for Sexual Health
  • Wilma Lopez
  • Woojin Park