November 23, 2009
Training is intense and exciting!!! I am at an off base training session in Butha Buthe
in Northern Lesotho. I'm staying with another volunteer in a round house with a thatched roof, no electricity and a pit toilet...at least it's her own pit toilet! This morning we (all three of the volunteers staying with her) learned how to take "cup/tub" showers without wasting too much water. After we'd cleaned up a bit, began our hour long walk to Muela Primary School to visit with some of Meg's (the trainer) students and student teachers. On the way we were stopped by a nice young man on the road who offered us a lift. It turns out that he's an administrator with the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority...an organization working on dams and tunnels to carry water to other areas of Lesotho and South Africa. We made a side trip and visited the Khotso Dam and many tunnels connected under a huge mountain...it was so exciting to see such new work being done in this lovely country!! Anyway, when we finally got to school (many hours
later) we taught the first graders three songs and they taught us one in Sesotho. We walked home about halfway after that and then picked up a "4 in 1" a taxi...just for the fun of it. It was crowded, smelly and fun!!! Gotta go...sorry...to be continued.
In two days I'll be heading off to a three week training site!! I'll get a chance to live alone in a rondavel, teach at a local village school, observe and guide local teachers, cook for myself and...best of all...have some quiet-alone time. The pressure of learning Besotho has been GREAT...not good great but intense. I find myself staggering over words and phrases, misspelling, mispronouncing, etc, etc, etc. The “young ones” pick it up so quickly!! Oh well, the tortoise did get there, huh! Looking at the mountains takes much of my loneliness away, but it is still there; I watch the “young ones” chumming up, partnering, bragging about their love exploits and their drug and alcohol wild times, etc, and I realize that I am alone. There are birds, however, that remind me that I am never really alone...and other animals too. I love the donkeys! When I'm on the road and I pass a group of herd-boys with their cows, sheep or goats, I find myself talking with the animals and it calms me!
There's so much poverty here...the average Masotho doesn't eat more than two meals daily...if he's lucky. Papas, a kind of rough corn meal is served every meal...sometimes with cabbage, sometimes with beans...most of the time it's plain papas. The dogs, cows and oxen are just skin and bones, and there are no cats to be found, anywhere. Taxis and buses are over-filled with smelly, happy people, always singing, always with a sway to their tired bodies. If a me (mama) comes on board and stands in the aisle with her baby, it goes without question that she will hand the baby to a sitting person to hold! (It's actually a kind of neat thing to see...everyone going out of his or her way to help another.) . I want so badly to be able to communicate in Sesotho; I need to learn to be more patient with myself...I really need to learn to slow down. The AIDS epidemic is so much worse than is imagined in America. Schools are filled with orphans...every family has taken in someone else's family member or members...ten year olds go to school and then go home to a parentless house where they take care of younger siblings...yet everyone sings...everyone is grateful for what he or she has.
One of the most important lessons I've learned in the past two weeks is to make all around me aware that I am NOT Afrikaner..a white from South Africa. Apparently, the Afrikaans are hated by the Besotho because they have been so mistreated for so long...There is no racial tension between Besotho and Americans, so I've learned to immediately speak the little Sesotho I know as soon as I enter someplace, to show that I am not Afrikaner.
I cannot wait until I have my own place to live; I've found a nine month old puppy I'd like to adopt...I'll only do it, though, if I'll be able to bring it home with me. His name is Matata; it means trouble in Sesotho. I have so much to tell you, but my eyes and brain are now overworked!!! ( I think my heart is too, at the moment)...wouldn't it be nice if we could just wave a magic wand and make the world Heaven!!!