Saturday, April 10, 2010

Thursday, March 25, 2010's chilly here in Maseru, but not yet bitter cold. We've (the 2010 Education group) been here since Sunday...recapping, analyzing, relaxing, enjoying hot running water and flush toilets, malls, movie houses, restaurants and each other's company....and I'm more than ready to go back to my not-so-sophisticated village of Tabola. Every afternoon this week we've continued with Sesotho we're into learning many of the “slangs”. That should be pretty useful to us.
My friend, Mary, has decided to go home; that's kind of sad for me, but she needs to do what her heart tells her. My next closest friend, Kaye,,,a C.H.E.D. (community health and environmental development) volunteer...will be leaving on June 1st. So, things are looking a bit different right about now. Thank goodness for all the emails and pictures; that's really keeping me going!
Last week St Rose High School held a huge cultural festival. We started the day by parading from the high school grounds into the town of Peka and up to the chief's place. The kids were dressed in traditional garb...quite a scene as we paraded through the streets of the village (dirt roads). Some of the girls had painted their bodies and were wearing dancing skirts only...totally acceptable in this culture. Others wore incredibly beautiful seshoeshoes (pronounced seshwayshways.). Both boys and girls wore traditional Lesotho blankets over their things...yes, blankets are worn in all weather; they protect from heat, cold, wind, rain and sun. Most of the students performed in the afternoon; it was quite a day.
At Lepholisa last week the fifth grade home economics lesson was the drying of peaches and moroho (vegetable leaves). The particular leaves in the picture are pumpkin leaves. They're washed and chopped finely and then laid out to dry for about three days. The peaches (peregise) are sliced and laid out to dry also. It's been kind of hard for me to accept the constant presence of flies...zillions of them...especially during the drying of food. You see, it's just laid out on whatever for about three or four days...brought in at night and laid out again in the morning until the food has completely dried.
We've been at the training center since Sunday...more language lessons, H.I.V./A.I.D.s lessons, lectures, lectures and more lectures...ugh. After leading such active lives in our villages for the past three months, it's really hard for all of us to sit all day long and be talked to, at and about! I just got called out of my room to watch one of the gals shave all the hair off one of the boy's heads!!! Now you know we're getting pretty anxious for some action. We were all going to treat ourselves and go to see a movie...yup, there's a brand new movie theatre at a nearby mall here in Maseru...but it's one of the girl's birthday, today, so we stayed home, made a cake, sang, etc. Poor Eric; it's a good thing his mama can't see his head right now! Shanti, the girl who's shaving it, has been really “celebrating” the birthday, so her handling of the shaver is not quite perfect. Have I told you that all these kids are great...and REALLY crazy?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Easter in Lesotho

April 2, 2010
Easter is a very big holiday in Lesotho because 99% of its inhabitants are Christians. Ntate Ramoabi and M'e Mamoabi have almost the entire family here for the holidays. Ntate Motalla...that's Ntate's first just like my father. In fact, his Christian name is Joseph! At any rate, he's in his glory, joking with all the grand children and enjoying the company of his older sons. M'e Mamoabi is just so happy to have all of her children around her. The truth is, I'm a bit jealous because I miss my family so much, but I have been welcomed by everyone into this family, and that is quite an Easter blessing. Yes, I am sad to say that commercialism has hit Lesotho; yesterday, when I was in Maseru, I went to a mall with a friend and was greeted by an Easter Bunny!!!! There are no Easter baskets, but the stores do have Easter candies. Here in Tabola the holiday is a lot more spiritual and not at all commercial..I'll let you know more about it tomorrow after the big family feast. Rusty

1.This picture shows how my rondavel turned into the arts and crafts center during the big feast.

2.Shows a picture of Ausi Mathabo. She's the orphan who lives with and works for the Ramoabis. They are so good to her...treat her like one of their own. I'm trying to get her a scholarship so that she can finish high school. She's only completed seventh grade because that's as far as free education in Lesotho goes. In fact, she did seventh grade twice, just so she could stay in school. She's so bright.

3. This is a picture of one of the younger grandchildren, Ausi Neo..yes, same as my name. She's fascinated with her new paper crane. Can you see Tsoene crashed on the bed? He was out hunting all night!

4. Ausi again.

5. This is most of the grandchildren standing in front of my rondavel.

6. and the grandchildren

7. ...some relatives who came to the feast.

8. M'e Mamoabi wearing her traditional blanket.

9. Kids in the doorway...we had so much fun doing arts and crafts and playing yahtze.

April 6, 2010
Easter in Lesotho was quite the lesson in cross cultural learning! On Easter Saturday, my family threw a HUGE feast for all the relatives and many of the close friends in the village. Joala (Basotho homemade beer) was made, a cow was slaughtered, vegetables were chopped, chopped and chopped! Preparations began early in the morning, but the cow wasn't killed until the entire family had arrived. I was invited to here's where I needed to be sensitive to the Basotho, I politely accepted the invitation, saying that I'd be there as soon as my camera was ready. Luckily, that worked and I missed the slaughter. I was obliged, however, to take a picture of the carcass; no, I'm not sending that shot along to all of you! The feast was wonderful! Dancing, singing, eating and drinking went on all day and long into the night. I felt very much “at home” celebrating with my Lesotho family.
The next morning, Easter Sunday, Kaye and I went to the Easter service at St. Rose Roman Catholic Church. Paul and Kay, if you're reading this, I want you to know that I couldn't stop thinking of the two of you! When we walked into the church, we felt as though we could have been in any church in America celebrating Easter...(our eyes have grown so accustomed to peeling paint, gaping roof holes and cracked floors that we didn't notice them.) All we saw was the beautiful white alter coverings, the lovely robes on the priests and alter boys and the gorgeous flower arrangements! Then...the service began...oh the rhythms, the body movements and the sounds coming from the choir and the congregation were something to see and hear!! It was all magnificent! M'es and ausis were decked in their best seshoeshoes, the men had their best clothes on and the children were in new Easter outfits. There were many traditional blankets covering both Ntates and M'es. It was quite a sight to see all these outfits moving as one to the rhythm of the church music....we were quickly brought back to reality when the Easter sermon lasted well over an hour!!!
After a lovely afternoon visit with Kaye (our Easter meal consisted of raman noodles mixed with a can of sardines), I traveled back to Tabola; it's beginning to get dark much earlier now and Peace Corps volunteers are highly discouraged from being out after dark, so my visit was a short one. When I stepped out of the combi (a small van used as a bus), I heard lots of singing and carrying on. The singing got louder and louder as I approached my compound. Upon my arrival, I was greeted by MANY villagers who had been enjoying M'e's joala all afternoon! Yes, all were feeling just fine!! M'e somehow managed to shoo them all home, but told me that they'd be back Monday afternoon since all the joala had still not been finished! It was quite the Easter weekend.