I came to town today to meet with the local counselor and head of Quthing’s Land Use Planning Dept. I found out that if the organizations in my village can mobilize and register themselves with the government, the groups may qualify for financial assistance. Good news. We’ll see what pans out. Other than that, today I spent time with my supervisor at her house. I’ve been making her family banana bread every time I come over and they love it.
Last night a puppy was stranded outside of my house. It kept whining and whining and it was just so cold last night. So of course, I had to do something. I wanted to ignore the dog because I really didn’t want to get a dog while I was in Lesotho. However, I couldn’t leave it to die and it looked so weak. I emptied a cardboard box and put one of my towels in the box. I was going to bring the dog inside but there were bugs crawling all over it so I left the puppy outside. Then this morning my host father asked me what was in the box. I showed him the dog. He asked if it was mine and I said “I guess it is now”. He told me that he will have my host brother build the dog a house. Luckily, my host father is the district’s animal husbandry employee for the Ministry of Agriculture. He had some medicine for the bugs and bathed the dog with the medicine. Within about 10 minutes, all the bugs were dead. They were still stuck all over the fur so when the dog’s fur dried, I brushed her for an hour to get the dead bugs out.
She’s cute, though. She is all white with one big brown spot on her back. I’m going to wait a week to name her because I really don’t want to get attached to her until I’m sure she will survive long enough. My host father said she can sleep in my house just for tonight. He promised that the bugs are all dead. They better be, because I will leave Lesotho if I get bedbugs again (jk). Tomorrow I’m going to town for the day for a meeting with the local counselor and district officials, so my host brother will take care of the dog until I’m back. My host family promised me that they wouldn’t kick the dog and they even taught me how to say “don’t kick my dog” in Sesotho. I had to learn how to say that because Basotho don’t like dogs. They think of them as the lowest of the low in terms of animals. Plus, they typically beat or whip the crap out of dogs…and any other animal for that matter. In Lesotho, dogs are meant to be guard dogs, not friends.
Yesterday, the World Food Program (WFP) came to our village to conduct a pitso (village meeting). People came from all of the villages in the area. Some people walked over five miles to attend the pitso. At first, I didn’t know what the pitso was about. I just kept asking people walking by what was the purpose of the meeting. I had gathered that WFP was handing out food because of the drought. So I decided I would attend the meeting too because I’ve been running low on food (totally jk). When I arrived, the chief immediately had me sit on a chair in the middle of the entire crowd. It made me uncomfortable because I really don’t want to be associated with handouts. Apparently, WFP is giving a 1 month supply of maize meal, oil, and beans to 50% of the families in need in each village. The donations are coming from some other country…probably the U.S. After the meeting, I spent the rest of the day debating the pros and cons of foreign aid with myself.
The poor crop production is very serious, though. The soil in Lesotho is sandy and doesn’t retain moisture very well. Then on top of that, it rarely rains, but when it does…it pours. So then the water just runs off of the mountains and ruins the crops. Or it rains and hails too much and destroys the vegetables. The gardens that my organization has planted are failing, as are most of the gardens I see. People are hungry because they live off of maize meal and porridge and the corn/sorghum yield is so low this year. Life is hard here in Ha Makoae.
So a lot has happened since the last blog post. Thanksgiving and World AIDs day has come and gone and I’ve also finished Phase III training. Thanksgiving was nice at my village, but I’ve realized that holidays make me a little too homesick, so I may try to refrain from celebrating or figure out some new traditions to keep me from thinking of my mom’s mashed potatoes or my father’s gravy. What it came down to is that I just can’t cook very well…especially with a two-burner stove.
But, World AIDs Day was a hit and I’m very proud of how the event turned out. I was able to coordinate for the District Administrator of Quthing to bring a tent and a PLWA (Person Living With Aids) speaker…ALL the way to my rural village. I think his staff was a little surprised when they drove over 3 hours to show up to an event in the middle of nowhere. We were able to reach out to the entire community through AIDs dramas, songs, dance, and speakers. Testers from the clinic came to the event to test for HIV and also brought male and female condoms to pass out. I was extremely impressed with the amount of women requesting female condoms and the instruction sheet for their use.
Two PCVs came to support me and also our PC Country Director came to see the event. Our Country Director helped me immensely by driving me around the villages to collect important items like the PA system, HIV testing equipment, and the petrol and generator for the sound system. I’m still amazed at how open the community was to the information presented. At one point, there was a toddler holding condoms during a skit…I know that may sound shocking, but unfortunately, HIV/AIDs messages need to be presented all day-every day in Lesotho. Also, a highlight was our village police rode in on horses at the end of the ceremony and did an act where one mad stood on a horse, whispered in its ear, and the horse immediately laid down on his side with the man still standing on him. Awwmazin.
Phase III Training was really cool because we were able to ask PC staff all the questions that we’ve been wondering for the past 3 months. Of course, we could have just called them at any point during this past 3 months, but this training made us all come together to talk about our similar successes and challenges. We gained more knowledge about establishing Income Generating Activities (IGAs), teaching computer skills, teaching Life Skills, Safety training, cross-culture integration, Sesotho language, etc.
The best part of training was seeing my awesome CHED 11 PCV-mates and catching up on our past 3 months where we were separated from each other. We spent many hours after school chillin on my host-family’s lawn and laughing together.
Just a quick nag: Ugh, my clumsy-self lost my backup cell phone on the taxi today. Not the end of the world because it was my crappy one that doesn’t have internet, but still…I had 100 R of air time on it and it got better signal at my site. Oh well, my great supervisor told me she’s going to get me a new SIM card and airtime.