Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Goodbye Lesotho

Paul Moliko, Blue Belt test - Shane's first student to be tested by him - he passed! Well done Ntate!
Shane wrapping up massage class

Boxing demonstration at our farewell party

My dear friend Maleshoane

Our beautiful neighbors and their beautiful children

Shane's counterparts

The Red Cross Bo 'N'tate dancing

'M'e Lineo o ithuta ho tsoka papa ka pitsa ntsoe

Bo 'N'tate cooking papa in the traditional pot

Matumelo and Magdelena cooking

Bo 'M'e preparing the feast

Hello Dear Readers,
We made it! Twenty six months with Peace Corps in Lesotho. We close our service tomorrow and become RPCVs officially. We left our site on Monday on the bus after a lovely farewell party from the community and selling/giving away the remainder of our worldy possessions of Lesotho. We are now in Maseru completing the seemingly never ending stream of paperwork that is Peace Corps and undergoing the poking and prodding torments of Peace Corps medical clearance. We fly out tomorrow.

I've already been reminiscing a bit on this blog about our service , so I may keep that to a minimum today, but here are a few things of note:

Games of Scrabble since entering Lesotho - 175
Kilograms of Peanut Butter Consumed - 52
Care Packages- 34 (Thank you all so much, they really did get us through the hard times and add the icing to the good times!)

Book Lists:
Shane -
The Way of the Peaceful Warrior
Mountains Beyond Mountains
Getting to Yes
Fast Food Nation
Small Wonder
Deep Survival
The Walking Drum
The Communist Manifesto
Born to Run
Half the Sky
Animal Farm
The Four Agreements
The Four Hour Body
Jiu Jit Su University
The Poisonwood Bible
The Tipping Point
My Stroke of Insight
Pathologies of Power
The Kite Runner
Gentlemen of the Road
Body by Science
Three Cups of Tea
Never Cry Wolf
The Art of Getting Things Done
The Four Hour Workweek

Carol -
The Cat Who Sang for the Birds
Small Wonder
The Secret Adversary
Looking for Lovedu
The Places in Between
The Bookseller of Kabul
Mansfield Park
The Lacuna
Great Food, All Day Long
When a Crocodile Eats the Sun
When the Emporer was Divine
Island Beneath the Sea
The Eyre Affair
The Walking Wind
Animal Dreams
Making Aid Work
Texas (1,320 pgs!)
The Bottom Billion
The Shackled Continent
The Challenge for Africa
Listening Woman
The Paris Wife
A Buddha in the Attic
Running a B&B for Dummies
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
We Are All Welcome Here
Crossing to Safety
Man's Search for Meaning
The Ghostway
The Long Walk to Freedom
On Hundred Years of Solitude
Jump-off Creek
Never Cry Wolf
As We Forgive:Stories of Reconcilliation in Rwanda
Posessing the Secret of Joy
Say You're One of Then
The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team
The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency
Flight Behavior
The First Eagle
The Cat Who Saw Stars
Conflict 101
I Heard the Owl Call My Name
Pillars of the Earth (1,082 pgs!)
Dead Aid
King Leopold's Ghost
Private Peaceful
What Color is Your Parachute
Olive Kitteridge
Hunting Badger
Bringing it to the Table
World Without End (1,048 pgs!)
The Corrections

So, there it is the Peace Corps book list - that has also been fun, a lot of them, if I can say have had some further significance reading them here. Its kind of cool.

Here is a list of things I won't miss:
Bathing in winter in 2L of water
Public Transport
The Unreliable Infrastructure
The grocery stores
And a few other things...

And the short list of things I'll miss:
Basotho singing
The community/ our people!
Our cat
The kids
The birds
The sound of the livestock bells
Our mink blanket
Fruit trees (especially in bloom)
South African Wines
And so much more....

So with that - it seems that this will be our last post thanks to all of you who have been following, we've had over 10,000 pageviews in our two years! Enjoy the photos from our farewell party and we'll look forward to seeing you stateside!

Hugs from Lesotho (for less than 24 more hours!)
Carol and Shane

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Some Last Newsy Tidbits....

Our Cat... eating morho (cabbage) I wonder if he'd like some papa with that?
Lesotho "papa donkeys" coming from the grocery store
We'll miss having lunch with you at Quick Serve - awesome PCVs
Hello Dear Readers,


2 weeks left! We can scarcely believe that we are such a short time away from completing our Peace Corps service – and getting our “R”. We will soon be “Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs)” as they say, Peace Corps service is imprinted on your for the rest of your life; as a result, you are never an “ex-PCV.” It is amazing that something that was once a dream is now so close to being behind us, but we are ready to move forward, celebrating the fact that we have been here. As many of those close to us know, once we leave Lesotho, we will be on the fast track to getting ourselves to Washington State, where I’m very excited to begin pursuing a Master’s in Soil Science. It will also be a great place for Shane to continue working toward his goals and he has also been madly applying to some great jobs, also on campus.


We haven’t been up to very much that is outstanding, which is why I haven’t posted lately. We are in the thick of wrapping up our lives here, while simultaneously trying to orient ourselves to the idea of being prepared to return to America. This is everything from reading papers on carbon sequestration to distributing our worldly possessions of Lesotho to our community, trying to decide whether to rent a U-haul or buy a trailer (Thanks for all of your help Dads!) and so many other logistical things – even trying to decide how to celebrate our 4th wedding anniversary between our homecoming and school starting! The new group of “Healthy Youth” volunteers are now about half-way through their training and thinking about their sites. We had a chance to meet one from Minneapolis , who was super-jealous of our plans to be celebrating our return by going to Valley Fair!

Hopefully some of the last washing I'll have to do in a bucket!

Our weak Lesotho yard sale

Shane’s massage students have started their student clinics now, and it has been going very well for them and both of our hard work in training them has really paid off – we are looking forward to hearing about their success, even after we return. Shane has still been working hard with his counterparts on the Women’s Escape Training and Gender Rights Awareness national campaign. It has been going well, but like most things here – a bit slower than we as Americans would like to see. He has also been training a lot of Jiu jit su especially trying to push one of his local counterparts to a level where he is ready to be tested for his blue belt.  


Things have been slowing down quite a bit for us with our projects as things wrap up. It is also winter here, so things are generally slower. All of the schools closed in the middle of June, I enjoyed visiting our neighboring preschool and also we visited and said our goodbye to the kids of the local primary school (who I’ve enjoyed greeting in English as we’ve passed each other on many days of the last 2 years).
Look at this naughty guy! He can use a cell phone at least as well as I can...

All of the pre-schoolers and their teachers
The last day of primary school - they had all of class 5, 6 and 7 line up according to their class rank
My last Market Day was at the end of June, it was sad. We also had the opportunity to face some challenges together. One of them is that one of the modes of transport that approximately half of the district uses – the bus, has been on strike for more than a month, another was that we didn’t have a car to transport the chairs, tables, tent, etc… required for the market day, and additionally, we couldn’t ask the prisoners to help us put up the tent as we usually do, because the guards at the prison were on a go slow, and weren’t willing to chaperone the prisoners to help us… but we overcame it all, and the show went on, albeit with a smaller crowd than usual, likely due to the colder weather and reduced ability of transport. BEDCO, one of the organizations I’ve been focusing on working with to implement this project, honored me with a few lovely gifts, and I gave a speech in horrible Sesotho, hoping to encourage the community continue the work to develop the Market.
Setting up the tent

Mapaballo with her delicious bread
Thanks BEDCO!
Shane and I went to the orphanage last week and enjoyed playing some of the games, like Twister, with them that the Welsh left for them.
I love these kids!

A lot!
We have also been playing a weekly game of UNO with the Sisters, which is amazingly entertaining and really fun for all of us!
And the Sisters too!

I’ve been continuing to work with ‘M’e Matumelo at the bakery, who unfortunately suffered a break-in to the container a few weeks ago.
Can you see the huge hole in the side?

One of our more awesome achievements is that even though 1 year ago she didn’t know anything about using a computer, and was totally afraid of them – among other things, she has learned how to email so that we can keep in touch once we are back state-side. I also really appreciate that she is coordinating our farewell party, we are looking forward to celebrating our time with the community and have even bought a sheep to be roasted for the “feast.” My friend and fellow yogini, Ausi Maleshoane has been continuing to excel in yoga, and we even made some yoga blocks last week from some of the edges of Shane’s Jiu Jit Su mats.
Making yoga blocks  - duct tape everytime...

The library has been under renovation for a few months now, so, unfortunately we have not been able to continue with the youth reading program.

We've been spending some fun time with some of the other PCVs in our district, something notable from last month was that we celebrated Father's Day by doing a "5k" walk with one of our volunteers who was widowed by prostate cancer and she has done the 5k prostate cancer walk for several years, first with her husband and after he passed with family and friends back home - and now in Lesotho with us and another volunteer. The walk was quite scenic and the day was beautiful and we had a chance to recognize prostate cancer and honor the memory of our friend's late husband.

We celebrated the 4th of July this year with 3 other, awesome, volunteers from our district. The highlight was the cake that we made together that looked like the American flag when you cut a slice! We looked at a few photos of fireworks and also had Sloppy Joes.
Happy, happy...
4th of July
We also finally got a chance to watch the Hobbit. Of all of the media, past and current that we have watched since being here, that is one that we were both really jonesing to watch, it was amazing – but seriously, 3 parts… I recently finished the second book in the Pillars of the Earth series – World Without End, my 3rd 1000+ page book since being in Peace Corps. I also enjoyed finishing Bringing it to the Table by Wendell Barry, filled with his essays past and current regarding various topics of agriculture and food. Shane is currently reading Man’s Search for Meaning, while I have started The Corrections, an Oprah book club book that is set in present-day America. As we continue to look forward, I have even been dreaming consistently about the U.S. and home, even as I frequently wake up to rats, bats (or, as Shane says – birds) scurrying in our ceiling, here in Lesotho.

Congratulations Ausit Khotso for getting into the University - we wish you the best!

Our friends The Welsh and our other dear friends the Buers are all back home, and we are hearing news of their experiences with reentry and reverse culture shock and realize that we will soon be working to cope with that, though – we have succeeded in making our first several weeks back a bit of a whirlwind, so, maybe we won’t notice.  


I think that about wraps things up for now – stayed tuned for our last post or two. If there is anything in particular that you would like to read about before we go, please let us know. We will soon be posting some of our Peace Corps totals, including how many Kg’s of Peanut Butter, care packages and games of Scrabble during our service and possibly the complete book lists for both Shane and I (or at least relative numbers). So, if anyone wants to venture guesses on any of these in the comments, and you get relatively close to the actual numbers, we’ll bring you a treat from Lesotho!


Stay cool up there and keep well,

Hugs from Lesotho,

Carol and Shane


 Here's a few other Lesotho-y photos:


Knitting man






Shane buying pre-paid airtime from this guy's "shop" can you see the phone, radio and bell?

Walking to town

The office toilet - please note the "toilet paper''


Friday, June 14, 2013

A Field Trip....

Hello Dear Readers,


I realize that I just did a post, but last week, I likely went out to the field with WFP for the last time. I wanted to share this journey with you because we went to one of the most remote places in the country that you can drive to, I took this opportunity to get some very Lesotho-y photos for your enjoyment.


I went with a few partners to two remote primary schools that are part of WFP’s School Meals Programme, which is, in my opinion, one of the best uses of aid around. We did teaching activities for the students centered around education about deforestation, soil erosion and HIV/AIDS.


I don’t have a whole lot to write about this journey, so enjoy coming with us via the photos!

On the road first thing in the morning...

Beautiful Lesotho views...

Thanks for getting us to the first school Natate Thabang and your Nissan Patrol...

Madam Makhotso, one of the 2 primary school teachers (for 7 grades) and the school cook and kitchen...

The school children happily eating their porridge, provided by WFP's School Meals Programme...

No crumbs left behind...

Educational game about HIV/AIDS stigma...

Red Cross counterpart playing another educational game about HIV/AIDS...

And another, on the school playground...

A Ministry of Forestry Counterpart doing another educational game about deforestation (just a little help from me) at another school, this school is also used as a church in the village...

School bags and books in the classroom window...

One of the 3 chalkboards in the classroom (its divided into three sections to accommodate 3 different grades)...
HIV/ADIS educational game in the schoolyard...
After lunch and watching the other kids...

Driving through the village, a traditional house and garden...

Another traditional house and garden...

On the way home, back up the first mountain - can you see the rest of the road back home, all the way across the valley?...

Another view from the top of the mountain, terraced fields in the foreground...
Still on the road, going down for a little while...
Across the bridge...
Look at all of the goats!...
Stop for a drink, there is a "road" next to the shop too, glad we don't have to go on that one today...
Cows, grazing the cornfield stubble...
Slowing down for the pace of the cows...
A critter! Don't know the name in English, it is a Pela...
St Francis Cathedral, back on the "main" road...

Whew, I hope you aren't too tired after our 6 hours on the road! Also, I hope you enjoyed our field trip to one of the most remote places in the district that we are lucky to go to since a development project allowed for the construction of that road a couple years ago!

As always, sending our love from Lesotho,
Carol and Shane