I just left my home in Hamebekenyane. It was a one month off base training time....a combination of wonderful and difficult. It was wonderful because I was so happy in my little home, surrounded by cows, horses, chickens, dogs and a mother donkey and her baby. My host family was incredible and I cried all the way back to the training center in Masseru today.
It was so hard to leave today, because I'd become so attached to my host family. But...as soon as I sat in a real toilet...with flushing water, I was glad to be back. The line is "out of the gates" for showers so I've decided to just wait 'til early tomorrow morning. My experience was both incredible and very difficult. It seems that half the people I've met are HIV positive. My village had a funeral every Saturday while I was there. How I wish you could meet the people I've come to love so much; they go through the days always singing...really...every incident, no matter how minor, is a reason to break out in song and/or dance. Today the village threw a huge feast for all the baithaopi (volunteers) to thank them for spending time in the village. Our village had seven baithaopi (pronounced baetoape) and the party was at my compound since my M'e is the chief of the village. We gave her a beautiful Lesotho blanket...and she gave me a traditional Basotho hat...The hat is the symbol you see on the Lesotho flag...it's taken from a famous mountain which we went to visit last weekend...Thaba Bosiu...which actually does have the shape of a strange straw hat! I have great pictures of the mountain and will send them along as soon as I get another card. I became very close to a little orphan, Nthethe. He's eleven years old and brilliant. In fact, he skipped from fifth standard to seventh for this next semester which begins after the new year. An orphan in Lesotho is a child with one parent; a child with no parents is called a double orphan. The village does a wonderful job of caring for ALL the children, but it's still a very hard life for Nthethe; he is a herdsboy who works for my M'e. She takes good care of him, but the situation is still sad. His mother has moved to South Africa to find work because the father died last year. Nthethe has a younger sister just going into fifth standard who takes care of his even younger brother all day while he watches the animals. Their grandmother is now their M'e...she fetches water and washes clothes for my M'e...and works in a small village shop. Needless to say, Nthethe got spoiled for Christmas...I bought him a white long sleeved uniforn shirt, 2 pairs of socks, a green uniform sweater and a small backpack. I've taught him to play yahtzee and he loves it. I'm hoping to apply for a Peace Corps grant so that he can go to high school next year. The government does give money, but it's mostly for double orphans. There's just so much to tell...and I haven't even begun my permanent assignment yet!! Anyway, Nthethe is someone I'll not forget for a very long time.
A baby donkey was born while I was in the village...so adorable...he actually let me get close to him this morning for the very first time! I can't tell you how wonderful it is to be sitting here with electricity. I still wouldn't trade this experience for anything...I hope that when I come back I'll be able to help people in America see how much we all have...how very lucky we are to have everything in such abundance...even the poorest of us has so much compared to the Basotho. I guess the most upsetting thing about living conditions here (other than rampant AIDs ) is the ignorance of the country when it comes to the environment...houses are so very clean...even the dirt in front of each house is swept once or twice a day..but the areas between houses has garbage strewn all over. If a Basotho finishes with something, it is just thrown to the ground. There's no garbage collection, so things just get burned on the property...plastic, styrofoam,
metals, etc. And of course the towns all smell because there's only pit toilets for each family. Oh, there's so much to tell and I feel as though I'm just rambling right now...very tired. I wish you all a wonderful holiday. Please know how very much you will be missed tomorrow.