Saturday, November 5, 2011

Happy in Lesotho

October 23rd

My birthday was last week and I received so many packages from my friends and family. THANK YOU EVERYBODY for making my birthday so special.  I got candy, toiletries, magazines, books, etc. everything I could ever need to be happy! Some amazing PCVs also threw me a birthday party with a chocolate cake that we dove into with our hands...good times.
I'm headed back to my site today and am excited about my projects that are beginning. My organization is growing vegetables to sell and building a veggie stand for the side of the road. I'm teaching Life Skills at the secondary school this week and also developing plans for a school library.  The Ministry of Agriculture has challenged our village to build key hole gardens, so I'm also teaching people in the village to construct their gardens.  Overall, things are moving forward and going well.
Oh, and the other day I was invited to a Basotho feast where I ate mutton, papa and beet root.  Then I danced and sang with all the members in the village while they drank 'joala' - a traditional brew.  It felt nice to be so connected with my village. 
However, my enemies are back -  BEDBUGS! So, when I get back to my house, I'm going to need to implement some strategies to get rid of them. That, or I'll just sleep on my table again because I hate them so much.
I'll end on a positive note though. I plan to run in a half marathon in Cape Town in April.  Since my site is at such a high elevation and I walk so much, I'll be able to get back into shape "no problem".

October 24th, 2011
Today I held a planning meeting with my organization and they were brainstorming about ways to generate income for the organization. I typically take a stand-back approach and just ask the group questions. So far, I've tried my hardest to let them come up with their own ideas for projects. I was very impressed with their idea today because they told me they would like to hold a party called "Stockfest" (dunno bout the spelling, but apparently its Afrikaans) where they will charge money for joala and food. With the money they earn, they will buy materials to make jewelry.
The group is trying hard and I'm very proud of them. Since I've been here, we've made over 30 garden plots and we were hoping to sell the veggies. However, there is so little rain and most of the time the pumps are dry so the vegetables are struggling. Pests are also eating the plants in full-force so tomorrow we plan to make a pesticide out of aloe plants.  When I see the gardens looking so pathetic it makes me sad, because I was the one who showed them how to make the gardens. If we can't harvest any vegetables, than we would have worked too hard for nothing.
After meeting with the organization and working in the gardens, I went over to the Secondary school where I taught my Life Skills class. The Ministry of Education had given our school some Life Skills books and the kids couldn't stop admiring the books. They were holding them close to their hearts and didn't want to give them back at the end of class. It seems so funny from my perspective, because personally I think the books suck. Primarily because they are just these flimsy books with typos and silly activities. But these kids barely get to touch books, so they were in heaven. They requested for me to teach them about page 9 - where there was an activity on "saying no" to sex. I told them OF FRICKIN course I'll teach them that section. Their reaction to the books really made me understand that these kids need a library before I leave.

October 25th, 2011
Today was the day I've been waiting for since I came to my site. Today was the day where I felt like myself in country that's not mine. I'm not going to lie, these past three months at site have been the hardest months of my life.  I've been through a lot of self-doubt, stress, loneliness, sadness, etc. and to top it off, my body is beat up with bug bites, wounds from falling, and bruises. But, as Peace Corps and Peace Corps Volunteers promised, "it gets better". So today on October 25th, I was happy...extremely happy for a WHOLE day! It was a day full of those high high moments that will keep me going strong.
Daily Highlights
·         Waking up to a goat basking in the sun at my doorway
·         The members of my organization showed up 5 minutes EARLY to work
·         My organization singing to me...even after I told them the news about my move (see next paragraph)
·         Peace Corps being on top of their game and taking care of my situation
·         Hugging a girl along the side of the road
·         The sky was beautiful in Big Sky Country!
·         My supervisor bought me peanuts
·         Fetching water for a friend who was tired
·         Dancing on garbage with my host sisters
· highlight - teaching my students what the word "litter" means and by the end of the class, they were chanting "WE WILL NOT LITTER, WE WILL NOT LITTER!"
Yes, a great great day.
About my move:
I spoke with PC and they have agreed that I should move to the neighboring village, Ha Makoae. There are several reasons why I'm moving, but the main reasons have to do with my relentless bedbugs and the unreliable water in this village. Basically, I've been debating the standards at my site and realized that even though I want to be as badass as possible, I need to communicate with PC and keep myself in check when it comes to staying safe at my site. I should be moving this weekend. My jobs won't change. I will just be doing the reverse walking commute.

October 27th
Another great day! The primary school had a party for their last day of school. The kids from my village had been practicing a play for the event and I wanted to see it. The play was supposed to start at 11 and of course, a set time in Africa means that it will happen at some point within the day. So I waited until 2:00 for the play to start, and it didn’t, so I had to walk an hour to the secondary school where I taught my Life Skills class on “caring for the environment”. I was sad to miss the play, but luckily a teacher took video footage with my camera.  I felt so good about the day because I realized that waiting for hours and missing the event would typically cause me stress…but since it didn’t, it means I’m adjusting to life in Lesotho.
After school when I was walking home, I got attacked by a dog because I went to say “hi” to his owner. It was my own fault for approaching his owner without a stick or rock in my hand. Luckily, the dog only attacked my skirt. Of course it happened to be one of my favorite skirts that he tore up! But, I still felt lucky.

October 31st   - November 1st
I didn’t celebrate Halloween by dressing up or with any candy, it started out to be an ordinary day for me until Peace Corps came to help me move. I won’t get into the details, but there was some village drama associated with my departure to the next village. It was chaotic and I was extremely worried I would lose my job in Ha Machesetsa.  Luckily, I work with some awesome teachers in my new village and they spent the evening making me feel better and helping me move into my new place. The teachers fetched water for me, unpacked my things, and made sure my laundry lady knew of my new living situation.
The next day, Peace Corps came back to my village to rescue me from any miscommunication that occurred between my move and the two villages I work in.  I was so happy that PC didn’t waste a minute when it came to saving me from my situation. PC swooped me up in their Landcruiser and the driver sped through the mountains to a community meeting to discuss my living arrangement with the chief and my two supervisors…along with 20 community members. At the end of the day, it all worked out and I was able to keep my two jobs in two separate villages. Needless to say, I’m extremely grateful with all the support Peace Corps has given me. They truly have made a huge effort to make sure I’m safe and happy in this remote area in Lesotho.

November 3rd
I’m all settled into my new place. I feel like my new home is right for me. I was even able to put pictures of my friends and family up on my walls. Until this point, I rarely have looked at pictures of my life back home because it made me miss everybody too much and would make my heart hurt. Now I feel content enough to put them all up and look at them every day! However, I still couldn’t manage to put the pictures of Pepper, those pictures will stay tucked away…maybe next year.

November 4th
The thing I love about Basotho is that they love to “accompany” you places and walk you to wherever you are going.  Since I’ve never been one of those girls that needs another girl to accompany her to the restroom at a bar, I’ve never understood the point of needing company to get to your destination. But here in Lesotho, it’s nice.  The funniest part about somebody walking you from some place, is that you have no idea how far they will walk with you. Sometimes they walk you to the road and sometimes they walk with you for miles before turning around. The other night I was with two teachers. One of the teachers and I walked the other teacher home, then I walked the remaining teacher home…and then she wanted to walk me from her house to mine. It made absolutely no sense, but it was thoughtful. I know it sounds confusing, but the jest of it is…if you walk somebody home, they will turn around and try to walk you back to your home. I just haven’t learned when the “accompanying a person home cycle” is supposed to end.

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