Let me start by saying, I'm very sorry for not updating my blog. I thought I could be one of those people that keep a blog and journal to express their thoughts to their friends and family. But what I realized is changing who you are does not happen easily. A person can move to a different country and live a completely different life, but still not change their habits. Failing to record my life through words and pictures will be something I regret if I don't try harder.
Life in Lesotho
I've lived in Lesotho for four months now. Every day is different and has its challenges and rewards. As for right now, the challenges typically outweigh the rewards, but I'm hoping that will soon change once I get the hang of this.
The first 9 weeks in Lesotho, I went through Pre-Service Training with 19 other volunteers in a host village. I actually loved training, but I may be one of the few volunteers to admit that. I liked it so much because we were extremely busy and there wasn't too much down time. I also loved my host family, our teachers, and the other volunteers. We learned about the culture, language, and our role requirements. I believe training definitely prepared me for life in Lesotho.
For the past six weeks, I've lived at my site in a village called Ha Machesetsa in the district of Quthing. I live on a mountain in a big rondaval (round house) with a thatched roof and a side bedroom with a tin roof. I have a big kitchen table, a 3/4 size bed, several cabinets, and a gas heater and stove. I don't have electricity or running water. The closest water pump is about a football field length down a steep hill. Every 2 or 3 days, I fill a bucket with water and attempt to carry it up the hill on my head. Half of the time, the pump is dry and I have to walk to the next pump that is about 1/4 mile away.
My daily routine consists of waking up around 8:00 and doing random shit until 10:00 when I meet with my organization. I assist the group to gather knowledge to build their skills with various projects. I've just finished teaching the group basic gardening practices and now we have over 30 plots started. Currently, we're digging over 150 holes for fruit trees that the Ministry of Agriculture is donating to us after seeing our hard work on the gardens. The goal of the organization is to learn skills like gardening, sewing, candle-making, etc., etc. and then find a market to sell the products the members produce. The aim is to have the organization members and community be able to sustain their lives with these Income Generating Activities (IGAs).
Back to my daily routine... I work with the group from 10:00-1:00 and then I walk to the neighboring village (an hour walk) to teach Life Skills to Form A, B, and C. Life Skills is a course that focuses on HIV/AIDs awareness, life goals, and various other important topics for kids. After school, I walk home with some of the kids and we sing songs or they teach me Sesotho while I teach them English. Once I get home, I start cooking dinner which consists of the same thing every night - rice, vegetables, and eggs. Then I read, make lesson plans, attempt to clean, text message, talk to my American family on the phone, and do more random stuff. In order to use my phone, I have to prop my cell up on the window pane and search for signal. Some days I have one bar of signal, but it cuts in and out constantly. The wind makes the signal worse and some days the wind is so intense that I have no signal at all. I charge my phone with a solar panel and car battery I bought from another volunteer. The solar panel set-up was the best thing I've bought since being here.
So that's the most of my day. During the times where I'm alone...which is most of the time, I do a lot of thinking on ways I can help my organization and the Secondary school. I also think about strategies for keeping myself sane. I have a list I read every day to remind myself of my must do activities. This list includes; exercise, wear sunscreen, floss, smile, and laugh. This list may sound basic, but it's easy to stop caring about myself when I compare my life of luxury to the lives of the people in this village. And when I just can't figure out what the hell I got myself into.
My site is beautiful. I'm surrounded by huge mountains and there is a river running through the valley that I can see from my house. I hike to the closest shop (about 20 min) to purchase basic items like candles, paraffin, oil, eggs, and rice..but if I need anything special, I need to travel to Mt. Moorosi (2-3 hour bus ride) to buy it. Even then, it's difficult to find things I want, like CokeZero or oatmeal. Gum is another thing I have issues finding. Of course there is no Big Red, so my consolation is Orbits Wintergreen. When I go to a big enough town, I buy as much gum as I can. The last time I was in Maseru, I spent over $15 on gum and the cashier told me I shouldn't be buying expensive gum.
This is just a glimpse of my new simple life. However, I will be much more vigilant about my posts once I figure out how to get internet access at my site. Loving my family and friends! Hope you are all doing amazing in the wonderful US of A.