November 21, 2009 6:15 A.M.
Good morning. It's been raining for a week now and we're all wet, cold and dirty! Oh well! Classes have ranged from fabulous to totally boring!!...especially the education classes...ugh. Our Sesotho classes are intense; we're learning conversational Besotho and are expected to speak it constantly...that's a lot of “brain power” every day. We plop into our bed glad for the silence. Yesterday we were taken out of the compound and (in groups of three and a trainer) we had to find a taxi, tell them where we wanted to go, get out, explore a bit, find another taxi and get home. My head was pounding by the time we returned!! But it was fun. The market to which we drove was loud, crowded and very dirty. The people were wonderful...very patient with our “baby-talk”. We still have not been out on our own, so we've been unable to buy phones or find some internet time in a local cafe. Tomorrow we are off on a three day jaunt to live with another Peace Corps Trainer. We'll be going to school with that person and possibly teaching. I'm so looking forward to getting out of here!
We've been given many lectures on safe sex because of the horribly high HIV rate in the country. Every day we're shown graphic pictures of infected people/families/communities. Saturdays (today) are regularly scheduled funeral days because of all the deaths, so shops are closed. I find myself talking with staff members within the compound (about twenty-five of them) and then walking away wondering how he/she has been affected ; it has touched every single person in this country...just awful.
Corporal punishment...what can I say? It does exist here. Children are beaten every day in school. We are told that it is part of the culture. We are advised to not interfere, but rather set an example of alternatives to be used when disciplining students. Volunteers have told us awful things they've witnessed in the classrooms...like entire classes being whipped when one child isn't able to answer a question. We are allowed to refuse to use corporal punishment ourselves, and, if this doesn't sit well with the principal, we are allowed to report the situation back to Peace Corps headquarters. There is a lot that is hard to digest (I haven't the stomach to tell you about the treatment of animals). But, I am here to make a difference, positively, even just a little difference...and that's just what I shall try to do. Again, I miss everyone terribly but am glad I am here, helping the Besotho. I love you all, Rusty