Let me tell you about my winter in Tabola. First of all, the temperatures don't plunge nearly so low as they do in Steamboat...BUT...it's pretty darn cold here. There's no snow on the ground to soften the chill, and the wind just whips through the air like its ready to cut everything down. I must say, however, that the sun, starting at about 10:30 each morning, does change my outlook quite a bit...especially when I stand with my back soaking in all the magnificent rays!! By midday the weather becomes bearable...so long as that ole sun is shining! If it's not, well...there's nothing but misery until I climb into my indispensable sleeping bag WITH SOCKS ON, something I've learned to do since coming to Lesotho. That's the outside temperatures.
What makes life so different in the winter here, is the fact that there's no difference inside!! It's, cold, cold, cold! On weekends I open my door at about10:30 to allow the sun to do its magic. Luckily for me, my rondavel is tiny; I am able to heat it to an almost comfortable (with coat on) condition with my gas heater. Now the schools, on the other hand, have no heat, no electricity and many broken windows. I still bother to pick out my clothing for each day and dress according to the colors of the uniforms necessary for the school to which I will go, but I don't know why...since I never take my coat off! There's one classroom, in particular, which I run to every time I'm at Renekeng Primary School. It's the standard seven room; the sun just pours into the room and warms all who are lucky enough to have sun at their desks. The teacher's desk is RIGHT SMACK IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SUN!!!!... and she always lets me sit with her. Ah, it's the little things in life that make us most happy! I must tell you that I would flock to this room even if it wasn't the sunniest because these kids happen to be my favorite seventh standard class.
I had a very interesting weekend. It started on Friday, when Mopeli Primary School was having a “funny” day. This is a very common fund raising activity in the Lesotho schools. For 50 disente (fifty cents...which is actually equivalent to less than 1 cent American), the children are allowed to wear crazy things to school. It's a really big deal since they are required to wear school uniforms to school each day. Most of the girls dress as herds boys, and most of the boys either borrow their 'm'es' seshoeshoes or find some cool sun glasses and try to look like rap singers.
I borrowed my 'm'e's seshoeshoe (she's twice my size), and stuffed myself with pillows...both front and back. When I looked at myself in my tiny mirror I thought it was the funniest thing I'd ever seen!! And, I was toasty warm walking to school.
On the way to school I met many ntates, 'm'es and Mopeli students. The students looked at me and laughed and laughed, but the adult reactions were quite different. Most of them stopped me and complimented me on how beautiful I looked!!! “Ou motle, 'M'e Neo...ou motle hoholo!” (“You're beautiful, 'M'e Neo...very beautiful!”) You see, the ideal Basotho woman is quite large...big hipped, huge “mountains'...breasts, and huge arms and shoulders. In fact, one of the nicest compliments you can be given is for someone to say you're getting fat! The men, on the other hand, are quite slim.
Sunday was another very interesting experience. I had “locked” myself into my rondavel all day to finish some important Peace Corp paper work. Outside, I could hear my family scurrying about , back and forth, back and forth. I knew something important was going on. When I took a short break, I asked what all the bustle was. It seems that they had an order for 34 chickens from the South African Embassy in Maseru and had to have them slaughtered and cleaned by Monday morning. I went back inside, worked a lot more, and when my eyes had “had it”, I went back outside. I asked if I could be of any help to them in getting things ready for the morning...well...'M'e Mamoabi said, “Why yes, that would be wonderful. You can pull all the feathers off the heads and pull off the top and bottom beaks.” I DID ask, so I proceeded to learn how to clean chicken's heads! I stopped helping when it got dark, about 6:00 P.M., but the rest of the family worked well into the night...outside...!!
One of Ntate Ramoabi and 'M'e Mamoabi's daughters works for the S.A. Embassy and got them the order.
On a more serious note...the cold again...I joke about it. I am well equipped with the proper outer wear, but it breaks my heart to see most of the students coming to school with no socks, tights, hats, gloves...even coats. If any of you are serious about wanting to do something to help the Lesotho children, you can send some black tights, black or white socks, hats or gloves of any kind, sweaters, old jackets, etc. None of the stuff needs to be new. Any size will do, since primary school houses children from ages 6 through 18. That would be such a needed and appreciated gift. I'd be sure that the neediest children got whatever is sent. Packages can be sent to Rusty de Lucia, P.C .V.
P.O. Box 31
Peka 340, Lesotho
Thank you for anything you can send to help the children, Rusty