Sunday, February 26, 2012

Time for an update

Feb 26th
I’m in town for a PC committee meeting. I plan to withdraw my allowance and go shopping for some groceries that I can’t find in my village and then hopefully go back to my site and stay there for several weeks – including weekends. I miss my home when I’m away in town and I really have a lot of work that needs to be done before Easter break. Next week I’ll be working with the local nutritionist to help the women in my communities with healthy eating habits and even sewing. The nutritionist is my friend and the goals in her job description align well with mine. I look forward to working with her. Also, next week my other counterpart and I will be conducting some HIV related activities at the herd-boy school. It’s important for herd-boys to receive HIV information, because most of them will not go to formal school which makes it impossible to learn about HIV facts. You may be thinking, “what is a herd-boy”? Well I’ll tell you. It is a man or boy that looks after livestock for their family. Typically goats, sheep, and cows. Boys can begin herding as soon as they can walk. My host brother herds sheep and he is 7. The boys take the animals to fields so they can graze and they sit and watch them all day long. Because this job can be so boring, the boys may try to make their lives more entertaining by drinking, doing drugs, or smoking. It’s a tough life for the boys here, but they don’t know any other life. In Lesotho, there are more educated women than men because of herding. At the school where I work, there are 100 students and only around 20 students are boys. Sometimes there are informal night schools for herd-boys where they can learn some basics. Since we have one in our area, this is the school my counterpart and I are going to target. We will play simple games having to do with HIV and it should be a good way for these boys to be entertained while learning something.
Mom, will you please look up a picture of a Lesotho herd-boy and post it? Yes, these boys/men do look scary because they were big blankets, carry sticks, and where facemasks, but all of these herd-boys that I pass on a daily basis are very friendly and will even help me out if I ever needed anything.  
     Jenny....I have posted a herd boy photo although not one with a ski mask on.  Could not find one of those.  Mom.

February 12th
I took a break from blogging for a little over a month. I wanted to start up again when I had the motivation and positivity. It is suggested that Peace Corps Volunteers should blog and write letters when we are happy and when we are down, it’s best to journal. I don’t keep a journal, though. It’s not like I had a terrible month, it was just a difficult month personally, culturally, and work-wise. I also forget that my quiet village life is still entertaining and interesting to those of you back home. When I look out my window and see a man driving a wheelbarrow with a pig in it, its normal here but definitely not normal if you compare it to my US life. Or when I’m sitting in my latrine and a snake keeps poking his head out of the corner to look at me, I need to remember, this is not normal! Needless to say, I’m doing great and want you all to know I’m thinking of you!
So since I’ve neglected to update you on my life…I’ll keep it short. School has started up again and I’ve been teaching Life Skills to Form A, Form B, and Form C. The school’s results were extremely poor from last year, so the teachers are being strict on the students and forcing the kids to speak English. There are a lot more students this year because the Ministry of Education has decreased the school fees. The decrease in school fees allows more children to go to school, but has resulted in the schools having to give up their free lunch program, which means the kids don’t eat lunch.
Other than that, my organization hasn’t been meeting regularly because the members have been working in their fields. I look forward to getting our projects and meetings up and running again once the members are ready.
I just got back to my village from a week at a Project Management and HIV/AIDs Training for Peace Corps. PC split our CHED 11 group of 19 into two parts: North and South. I’m in the southern part of the country, so I met up with all of the south vols and we stayed in a hotel for a week. A hotel with showers, electricity, and food! It was too much fun. All us volunteers were averaging 3-4 hours of sleep a night, but it was worth it to spend time together. Plus, we were still really productive at our training so I was extremely happy with the resources and information PC shared with us. PC invited our counterparts to the training and we all worked together on activities that we can share with our organizations and communities. I was especially impressed with the HIV/AIDS training. All of us PCVs have had days and days of HIV training, but it was important for us to share the things we’ve learned with our counterparts. It is our Basotho counterparts that will have the lasting impact in Lesotho in regards to HIV/AIDs awareness so I felt it was a smart move on PCs behalf to invite them. Now we have the skills to mobilize our organizations and present HIV information to our communities.
To top off an amazing week, I received a giant package from an old co-worker and a pile of letters…like 20 letters. I feel extremely loved. It was really nice for me to read about all the things my friends have been up to. The letters make me feel like I’m still a part of the pregnancies, holiday celebrations, struggles/successes, new houses, etc. Thank you guys!