Monday, December 10, 2012

A weekend visit -

Dear Good People,
I'll keep this post pretty short but I wanted to post some photos from our trip this weekend to another volunteer's site. Above you can see the beautiful sky and the amazing cliffs that contributed to the village's name - fort (in Sesotho, of course), where the founding families of the village hid from attackers. We had a lot of fun just hanging out, touring her village, watching dung beetles... 
 Seriously, they are cool and we don't have them at our site - we think it is too cold. It was amazing because we saw different species too, with different sized dung balls, forming them and rolling them and working together like you can see in the above photo - Ok I'll stop talking about that now so you guys will keep reading!

Another volunteer from a nearby site also joined us to cook delicious food, talk and enjoy the beauty and friendliness of this lovely village where the scenery reminded us a bit of places we've been in Idaho!

Her host father was also plowing his fields with oxen while we were there and I always enjoy watching that... It is such a fascinating difference from tractors - and they even fertilize while they plow with no extra attatchments!

This "Abuti" was learning his role as "Ntate" and helping the men with plowing.

Wendy, had also been busy plowing in her amazing garden where she is even trying the "Three Sisters" interplanting technique. She has a really sweet cat too!
We got to visit a bakery with a wood-fired oven and Shane was helping the soccer team that Wendy is working with to improve some of their warm-up techniques. We, unfortunately didn't have time to go find some wild clay with her Sesotho tutor and make goblets from it - next time though....
As you can see, we had a great weekend with beautiful scenery and super-friendly people. It was a great little break for us, even though whenever we visit other volunteers we get to sleep on their floor on our sleeping pads -  she tried to make it as delux as possible. We definitely haven't done enough visiting of other volunteers because we are pretty far out and it is kind of expensive to go anywhere, and since we are in a town, when other people come to town we have the opportunity to meet up with them. It is a different way to be social really than what we are used to - to be with your host or visitors constantly, rather than in America when we had more opportunities to meet for coffee or have dinner or something.
Regardless, there's a bit about our latest highlight. Hope you all had a great weekend too.
Hugs and best wishes from both of us in Lesotho,
Carol and Shane

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Busy Times -

"The plain fact is that the planet does not need more 'successful' people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every shape and form." by David Orr.

Hello Dear Friends and Family,

Since the last post was filled with "educational" stuff, I'll confine this one to what we've been up to lately. Happy December and Happy Belated World AIDS Day which was on the 1st. The weather has been changing a lot - it is summer but sometimes it is hot and sunny, sometimes it is sunny and cold and wet. The whole weekend was overcast with rain and a crazy storm on Friday, which was unfortunate as you will see below. Our electricity (from lightning?) went out on Friday and still hasn't returned at our house, so we've been reading more (and loving the Kindle cover that has its own light), using more candles, and were a little bit embarassed because we had a visitor from Friday until Sunday, so he was also sitting in the dark with us. It was really fun though because we got to still cook, and eat delicious food together and then he and Shane played guitar by candlelight for several hours!

Our garden is coming along, still hampered by some of the challenges of starting a new garden organically - poor soil fertility and quite a few pests that seem to have built up before we got there. Including slugs - which have unfortunately killed all of our peas and cutworms which have really limited the number of squash and beans that have emerged. We do have great looking tomato plants that have already begun flowering! We also, actually have carrots growing this year, we are really happy about that after having no luck with them last year. Another thing that has been fairly successful is our butterhead lettuce and we are both very excited to eat a lot of that when it is ready. Last weekend I made chocoloate, chocolate chip cookies and cinnamon raisin bread. They made our house smell great and warmed it up a bit on the rainy day. We read a lot too. I just finished "As We Forgive: Stories of Reconcilliation from Rwanda" that was pretty interesting. Shane started reading "Never Cry Wolf" by Farley Mowhat after I finished it, and he is enjoying that one as well. It was really interesting to read that considering the time period it was written in and the mythology surrounding wolves at that time. We were exposed to a lot of the dialouge surrounding the wolves in the Greater Yellowstone area before we came to PC, which, combined with the writing style made it all the more engaging.

Last week was busy for us. Shane has officially started his massage training program here of 3 young women -who seem to be great, and he actually built his own massage table, using his Swiss Army knife, a hand saw, a ruler and a drill.

He also finally got his "Fist" suit so that they can do "live" training in the Fight Like a Girl escape training program - here is the picture of him modeling it, where you can see he'll be a great "bad guy":

Their academy also had a Tae Kwondo club come down from Maseru to visit them and see what they were doing. Shane worked with them to do a demonstration of the Fight Like a Girl program - here are the guys from the academy with girls they worked with this weekend:
Shane is very sad to still be awaiting the floor mats to train on - but he is still persistantly working on that and they will get here before we COS...
As for me, I was so proud of the beekeeping guys who successfully finished and submitted their business plan this Monday and will shortly become an officially registered cooperative. Yoga has been continuing and has been at least as good for me as it has been for the Bo 'M'e. My main project last week was the first "Month-end Market Day" that I've been working with a few counterparts on, to bring vendors and buyers together from our district on the last Friday of every month into something resembling a Farmer's Market. We have been working really hard for the last two months, engaging all of the right people, mobilizing vendors, marketing and coordinating everything to prepare for its debut last Friday. Friday morning we woke up to the worst rainstorm we've had in several weeks, it was really dissapointing. Despite the bad weather and the sense that it was pointless to continue - we pushed forward (with only 3 pep-talks by me to my counterparts), because too many things can fail just due to lack of follow through here, and we actually had 21 vendors come! No customers... but people came with vegetagbles, bread, live animals, and beautiful handicrafts to sell, from several villages all over the district. It was considered a success by our team, all things considered and we all agreed that we were happy we didn't cancel it. We are sure that we will have a great turn out for the next one on December 14th (date was changed for the holidays). You can see the photos from our success below:
Setting up the tent with my counterparts

We invited PSI to come and do HIV testing - despite the rain at least 15 people tested on the day before WAD

You can buy this chicken live or you can ask them to bring it to the market slaugtered for you

Handmade grass items, including the traditional hat and brooms

The vendors who braved the storm

You can maybe get a sense of the storm with this photo, including the wet ground

This man brought baby bunnies to sell so people could raise them for meat - you can see the traditional dresses in the background and the purse made from plastic bags and even houseplants 

My lovely friend from the bakery, was advertising not only her baked goods but her decorating services.

This man built the fountain, by hand from local stone - unfortunately, we aren't sure what his market will be like in this district! Amazing, nonetheless...

So, dear friends - that is most of our latest news. We both hope you are all well and we send you many hugs from Lesotho!
Carol and Shane

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


"A leader must also tend his garden; he too plants seeds and then watches, cultivates and harvests the results."

"Courage is not the absence of fear but the triumph over it."

Both of these I took from Nelson Mandela's autobiography The Long Walk to Freedom.


Monday, November 26, 2012

Re tla bua Sesotho hamonate...

Lumelang Bakhotsi (Hello Friends),

I've been promising an entry on Sesotho for awhile now. Maybe I should have done it sooner. We, but especially I, have undergone some interesting transitions in learning the language of Lesotho. For starters, yes, English is one of the official languages here, but it's usefulness in the way of communication can vary widely! Sesotho is the language that most children grow up speaking in their homes, in some areas of Lesotho there is also the Xhosa language - but that is a lot more prominent in RSA. When the British and the Missionaries came they instituted mandatory instruction exclusively in English begining in the 4th grade. Some teachers still beat the children if they hear them speaking Sesotho during lunch. Regardless, this can look really different depending on where you are. In remote places, you can usually find someone in a village who you can have very basic communication with in English, but it is mostly Sesotho feela(only). Basotho are also extremely self-conscious about grammar (I can't imagine how they feel listening to our Sesotho!) so, even if they know English somewhat, they will try to get out of speaking it, if they aren't cofident in their grammar. In the camptowns and especially in Maseru, English is really common and most of the ex-pats living in Maseru don't worry about knowing very much Sesotho (though they really emphasize its importance to us...) At the same time, there is the component of the British English influnce, this can range from pronounciation differences to the trunk of a car being the "boot" and they go to "bath" and other little things that I'm sure we don't even notice anymore! Many people have a hard time getting used to our somewhat harsh and aparently "nasal" American English.

Then, there is us learning Sesotho... during our 10 weeks of training when we first arrived, we dove into several hours of language class every day. That in itself was a lot, and believe me - there were tears shed on more than one occasion, just in language class. Many of the volunteers' host families didn't speak any English either - that was overwhelming. It can be extremely frustrating to not be able to communicate with another human right in front of you, and alienating, and disempowering and so many other feelings! But then, we try and hanyane ka hanyane (little by little) we learn. First we learn how to greet, lumela or if there is more than one person you add an ng to the command for lumelang (u and i following the l make it sound like a d). Confusingly, you can also add ng for a locative as in: I am coming from the beer-ng and this is done with anything mosebetsi(work)-ng or sefateng (the place of the trees) and it is often funny when it is appended to something that has been stolen from English. Another way to denote someone's place is to add Ha as in Ha McFarland, many villages are named in this way... Ha and then the chief's name. Lastly, the ng can be added to make something relative as in the fat one (a motenyang). Those aren't so bad, except maybe the relative clause. A lot of people find the clicking and other pronounciations to be challenging, in Sesotho the clicks are on Qs such as the district names of Qacha's Nek and Quthing, and the word for gossip which is qoqa and you have to click twice in a row and make vowel sounds in between - that is a bit tricky! However, the sounds and clicks in Sesotho are nothing compared to Xhosa! I don't even know what I would do if we had to learn that. In Sesotho alone we have had to learn some unique and sometimes awkward sounds. Like when a word has kh you have to make that sound at the back of your throat like you are trying to hawk a loogie! That one has been hard to get used to. When we learned the name for cow which is khomo, it was a bit funny because we all really just heard it as an h at the begining! There are also tl and hl which make different sounds somehow using your cheeks. Words I will not understand while we are here are the ones which are the same word but with slightly different empahsis, such as the word litopho which can be rubber boots, seedlings or corpses depending on the emphasis - which I can never hear....

Names for and understanding family relationships are a bit complicated like the seperate word for my mother's oldest brother and my father's youngest sister and whatnot, and because this is Africa, cousins and siblings aren't easily distinguished!

One of the most challenging days of our language training was when they unveiled a chart to us containing the noun classes in Sesotho (something like 12 in all). Something that makes Sesotho unique from the latin languages (besides everything) is that each singular noun is put into one of the 6 classes, in which all of the words in that class start the same - mo (for people related nouns such as motho, the singular word for person), mo (for non-person nouns such as mokopu which is pumpkin), le, se, miscellaneaous and bo. Each of these classes has a plural that constitutes its own class in order: ba (for people, eg batho), me, ma, li, li and ma. Putting each of these words in their class, means that they each have a different pronoun, possesive pronoun etc... that really took some practice to get ahold of!

Aside from that, a word ending in a is usually a verb and then to make it a noun an o replaces it. Example being rata is the word for both like and love (I'm still unsure of the cultural ramifications there...) and the noun is lerato (in the le noun class of course). And there are so many things about Sesotho that we will not learn during our time here. The good news is, we kept trying to learn Sesotho after we left our training, with the help of Sister Magdelena, and everyone we speak to. Most people are super friendly about it, and say our Sesotho is so good, even if we just said the greetings! Then, you hear them walking away, talking to their friend Ausi (sister and the respectful way that every young woman is called) o se tseba Sesotho... Some people teach us Sesotho in the "Ugly American" style by repeating themselves and saying it more loudly - this is really un-effective as is just rambling on in Sesotho thinking that one day we'll get it... and the least helpful is the well - its about time you learned people, who we know speak perfect English and are speaking Sesotho for some motivation that is unknown. Overall though, it has been really fun to progress in learning Sesotho, it is also helpful to be able to understand what people are talking about around you, whether they are discussing politics or gossiping about you, I think it is helpful being in a strange place to be able to communicate, and as I said, Basotho are generally really happy for the effort.

Shane has been mad at me, pretty much since the begining though, I've been reasonably linguistic my whole life, and most language based things come pretty easily to me. I've heard about this from him about my vocabulary, my spelling, my writing, my reading, the fact that I shamelessly beat him in Scrabble for the first 3 years of our relationship. He almost killed me in the Spanish class that we took together at MSU, but he was happy when we were in Mexico and the extra language ability really helped us out! We faced the question during our special "couple" interview questions about how we will react if the other person learns things faster. Since we've been here though, I've definitely had an easier time picking up the language and he sometimes rants about not wanting to hear anyone else tell him that I need to teach him Sesotho... so that is our life with language here - including some of the challenges. Also, please be advised that Shane has many, many abilities that I can't even come close to comparing myself with him. This is just something that has come up in the context of language. Quick Sesotho 101:

Lumela(ng): hello
U/le phela joang: how are you(sing/plural)?
Ke/re phela hantle: I/we are fine
Le kae: where are you? Another form of greeting whose answer is ke/re teng I'm/we're here, very existential...
Haeno ke kae? Where is your home?
Haeso ke... America? My home is America
U lula kae? Where do you stay?
U ea kae? Where are you going?
Ke ea pizzang... I am going to the pizza place
U tsoa kae? Where are you coming from?
Ke tsoa Shoprite: I am from Shoprite
Khotso, Pula, Nala: Peace, Rain and Prosperity
Tsamae/Sala hantle: go/stay well

These are used as titles for everyone and the difference between saying lumela 'M'e and lumela Ausi is difficult to differentiate it is typically done on age/marital status. For men, people are often very generous with Ntate, but older women call almost everyone abuti and ausi.
'M'e (sounds like may): mother
Ntate: father
Ausi: sister
Abuti: brother

I think I'll wrap this up with that. Hopefully this was an interesting and informative post and now... le se tseba Sesotho- stay tuned for the exciting post on Soil Erosion in Lesotho...!

Khotso, Pula, Nala!

Carol and Shane

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Scenic Latrine

Weaver birds building their nests

Dear Lovely Friends and Family,

We hope you are enjoying the best of the Thanksgiving holiday! We are thinking of all of you, but especially my mom and grandma who we usually spend T-day with. We miss both them and their amazing cooking! It is full on summer here now, 85 degrees when I checked this morning, sporadic thunderstorms and our garden is enjoying both water and heat! Hopefully by December we will be eating fresh tomatoes! For now, we have been able to buy loads of shelled fresh green peas off the street for about $.75 for a generous cup sized serving!

Otherwise, things have been going well for both of us - but busy! Between projects, and planning for the future (and cooking!) we've only been having a little bit of time to read our books Body by Science for Shane and One Hundred Years of Solitude for me. We've also been enjoying the company of a few of our fellow volunteers and will look forward to sharing a small Thanksgiving dinner with another PCV couple on Saturday.

I've got some photos to share with you from the field work that I've been doing lately but I am saving some for when I talk about soil erosion in Lesotho in another post or two. One of the most notable trips was crossing the Orange River to take growth measurements of the preschoolers who are getting their lunches provided by WFP - since it has been raining, the water is high enough that we couldn't take the car across like we did last time. Here is me and some of my collegues crossing in the boat....

Crossing the river with my collegues and my ridiculous PC issued life jacket - check out the oars!

Other folks crossing the river, the alternative way... I wish the tractor were green though:-)

Once we got over there, we didn't have the car of course, so we walked from school to school and to the hospital for monitoring there as well - I am estimating it was more than 5 miles. It was a lovely day, sunny and hot. We also got to taste the first peaches of the season while we were there! We got back into town, just in time for me to run right into yoga and teach the class - after which, we had the pleasure of going to dinner with some of Baylor clinic's American staff who were visiting from Maseru! It was a big day...

Our transport options were pretty slim once across

Adorable preschooler!

Another adorable preschooler, with tribal scarring and a cute sweater

The next day (as you can see by my sun burn!) we had Nutrition Corner, where we had discussion groups and did a cooking demonstration of bean soup with spinach and American-style dumplings, which all of the Bo 'M'e and their children really enjoyed. The women cooked everything but the dumplings which I demonstrated how to make and they were fascinated by!

Cooking bean soup with American dumplings at Nutrition Corner

This woman is 80 and is raising her daughter's child who is one and a half
Those were the most notable events from last week for me. Yoga has been going really well, last week we even snuck in a Saturday class! I've also been working with the beekeeping project on their business plan still, we worked on their cash flow yesterday and they were so excited not only to learn about that but costing and pricing as well as how to use Microsoft Excel to do calculations using formulas! The woman at the bakery and I are currently makig business cards for her and learning how to use the internet - which she loves... especially Pinterest! 'M'e Magdelena and I are trying to move the water tank project ahead despite the somewhat shoddy labor contractor that we were working with previously - but it is really, really close to being finished. Also, her kittens are big now and adorable. At the library on Saturday we were reading a section of a book which talked about Morse Code - which the kids hadn't really even heard of a code before let alone Morse Code, so we had fun looking it up in the encyclopedia and writing their names in Morse Code and even writing messages in a code they made up. I am really looking forward to see how the market next Friday goes. We've been working for almost two months to put this together similar to an American Farmer's Market... hopefully there will be a big turn-out for the debut!

Shane has been persevering in trying to register their martial arts academy as an association, still trying to get the martial arts mats from Jo'berg to here and working with Ntate Nkhooa to plan all of the projects that are happening at Snake Park. He is also still trying to body build and has been having several requests from other men at the gym for him to help them bulk up!

Shane took this photo of our cat perched on our water bucket to stare out the window...

I'll sign off now, so this posts before I lose power to the thunderstorm! We both hope you are all doing really well and best wishes from Lesotho!


Carol and Shane

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Begin: the month of Pulungoane -

Abuti in the Mountain Kingdom

Mountaintop wild Gazanias

Hello Dear Readers,

As always, we hope you are reading this post in good health, with central heating and hot running water.

I've lately been reading a couple blog posts from other PCVs, and they strike me as so much more poetic than the tone that I've become accustomed to. I thought I'd take the opportunity to at least provide a link to a post written by another volunteer here in Lesotho that was recently published in our volunteer newsletter it is actually a blog kept up by a volunteer who used to be a journalist - so you know its got to be good! If you have the time to check out other posts, she actually does an excellent job at capturing a lot of the little things about PC that make it the way it is... and she likes to cook, so that is good by me. This story is one she did about circumcision, a big issue here.

Maybe you are wondering about the title... I recently had a Sesotho lesson with Sister Magdalena where I finally learned the names of the months in Sesotho. Usually when you learn a new language, you begin with days of the week and the months and numbers etc... but, probably for this same reason, most people here use the English names for things now. Up until now, I've not learned them, because I've been "saving my brain space" for words that I really need to use often in Sesotho - like the word for aphid (hoaba).

We did this Sesotho lesson mostly because once I started really hearing the names, why and the traditions behind the months, I couldn't stop listening to her ... they were very interesting and I'll take this opportunity to share with you because it says a lot about the traditional culture and values:

First of all the year begins with spring (selemo which also means year) -

Phato (August): for mophato which is the house used for the boys when they go to initiation school, because this is the time for circumcision at the initiation school

Loetse (September): Is when the boys go to look after the animals at the cattle camps (refer to June and July)

Mphalane (October): The boys smear their bodies with red clay, wear beads and they whistle at the initiation schools

Pulungoane (November): The Pulu is a wild animal (which is of course no longer here, because there are no wild animals left in Lesotho) that used to have their babies during this time (ngoana means baby in Sesotho)

Tsitoe (December): Is named for the insect that makes this sound during this month

Perekhong (January): She had forgotten what this month stands for (she is 70 something after all...)

Hlakola (February): Hlakola in Sesotho is the verb for "to wipe" and this is the time that the pollen from the sorghum comes off of the leaves and it looks like they have been wiped clean

Thlakubele (March): Is the month that the sorghum (mabele) begins to form grain

Mesa (April): The word is taken from the Sesotho word besa which means to roast or start a fire, because this is the month where people roast the field corn in the fire

Motshanong (May): This is the month where they say "the sorghum is laughing at the birds" (nonyana is the word for bird, hence the non at the end of the name) this is because the grain has finally gotten so hard that the birds can no longer eat it

Phutjoane and Phupu (June and July): Are the begining of winter when it is said that the men must go to the cattle posts in the mountains to take care of the animals because it is too harsh for the boys...

I wish I could say some of those names for you because they contain a lot of the unique (hard) sounds of Sesotho, but I was really fascinated by the association with the month, hopefully you all enjoy.

Otherwise, I'll limit our newsy tidbits, but I took a bunch of photos yesterday when I went with some other NGO and government partners to a community event. The objective was to talk to women about nutrition for their under 5 year old children, the rights of women and children and HIV/AIDS. We also took the measurements of the children and gave them deworming and vitamin A tablets.

The regional cheif (standing and wearing the traditional Seshoeshoe ) and welcoming the presenters (sitting in chairs) and the community, the really nice building is the Community Council building and it was built with German development funds

I really like this woman with her traditional blanket on her head to protect from the sun, the other traditional blanket for women around her waist, the bottle of traditional sour sorghum porridge (motoho) next to her and her child playing.
This was the woman talking about women's and children's rights


A father with his daughter (who just took a deworming tablet)
As you can see from the photos- it was actually sunny yesterday! So, it seems that summer has officially arrived. We are enjoying the longer days, the fresh peas and greens, and not having to go to bed at 7pm because it is so cold in our house we can't stand it any more! People are already starting to talk about peaches and the frogs have been croaking loudly throughout the nights. We've both been really busy lately, so, by the time we get home from working and walking around so much, we are exhausted and we guiltily confess that we've been watching TV (on our computer) rather than reading. We've just finished both Band of Brothers and The Pacific miniseries! This weekend we made hamburgers with fries, cinnamon rolls, empanadas with refried bean paste from U.S. and cheese slices (don't judge us! There is no free-range, organic Havarti... here!), chocolate-peanut butter cake, rhubarb scones and fennel-herb bread. So, at least we are continuing to eat relatively well, but we are really wishing our garden would grow a little faster so we can enjoy some fresh veggies:-)

I'll wrap it up with that and wish you all a happy election day, at the very least from what we hear, it will be a relief for the campaigning to stop!

All our best from Lesotho,

Carol and Shane

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

I saw this yesterday on my way back from the field, the song on the radio was "As Long As You Love Me" by the Backstreet boys (which me and the driver admittedly were rocking out to and singing along) - It is what you think and I think beats the lambs from last week. Is this photo worthy of "going viral?"



Hello Dear Readers,

 Neither of us can believe October has passed already and the auspicious holiday of treats and costumes is upon us. Unfortunately, we have been doing a terrible job at recognizing holidays    while we are here, because no one celebrates here and we can't even carve pumpkins because it is Spring!


When I say that we can't believe that October is on its way out, I'm very serious. Our second year of Peace Corps has been flying by, just like they said it would. Both of us have also been feeling pretty good about things. I think we won't realize how much we've really changed and grown from this (mostly in a good way) until we get back, but I really think I'm seeing some of it already!) We are learning how to get things done, and to expect obstacles. For example, today: Shane is submitting a back-up copy by email of a grant application that was sent to Maseru by hand, he started to send this email 2 hours in advance because he wanted to make sure to give himself enough time for all of the things to go wrong, electric being out, internet being down, a long line at the net cafe... and whatever else.... All in all life is good, and I'll elaborate as the blog unfolds, but I want to say, I don't think there are too many things in life where it is actually worth it and enjoyable to actively work, often 10 hours a day 6 days a week (though according to PC we work 24/7), meeting so many challenges, let alone discomforts- for $250 a month!

We are reasonably good at, at least recognizing some celebrations - such as our 7th anniversary of dating... Since there aren't a whole lot of options of ways to celebrate, we cooked delicious food, including bruschetta made from scratch (the baguettes took two days of prep!) and we had parmesean and tomato and mushroom (they don't look so good on the photo do they?) We also had a salad, with many of the ingredients being from our garden and "homemade" lentil sprouts, and to top it off we had wine and Scrabble. We also talked about the fun memories we have together. It was a great way to acknowledge our time together. I'm sure we aren't crazy enough to actually celebrate this, but our cat is now 1 year old, which is pretty good for Lesotho. It is a happy and spoiled house cat, despite all of the trauma it has had "being taken care of" such as when we have washed it... We really enjoy playing with it, when it sits on our laps - constantly, and it just loves attention and affection. It must go to another volunteer when we leave!


The weather has been dreary lately, rainy, misty, overcast and chilly at least some part of every day. It makes walking everywhere much less plesant, and unfortunately has resulted in cancelation of some of our activities to boot. (I believe that we are still luckier than the poor people in New York who just got hit with the hurricane though!) At the same time, it is preferable to the drought we had last year, it is really great to see people out working in their gardens and fields. Last Saturday I actually had a chance to get out into our garden - all of the rain has really brought on the weeds! I had a great time out there, pulling the weeds, transplanting, adding some more successions of other veggies and just checking things out. We now have three stages of compost! Our newest pile, the one that just got turned over to really get started and the oldest one that is just on the brink of being ready to use - believe or not, that is quite exciting!  We also had a fun visitor last weekend, one of the CHED 12 group. She is a woman from San Fransico who was a practicing acupuncturist before she left. She knows a ton about healing herbs and has been really getting into garden here too. Shane really enjoyed talking to her about "the healing arts" including Chinease medicine, and of course - food and gardening. We always enjoy fun visitors! I also took her to visit the bee guys that I'm working with, who were going to take honey last Friday, but found there wasn't as much there as they hoped, but here are some photos anyways -

That's me hold the smoker, right before I got stung...
I am also officially a "beekeeper" now: I got stung while we were doing this, just above my ankle - the darn thing flew up my pants leg! I love these guys though, they really are doing great - we've been slowly but surely working to get them registered with the government as an organization, and make a business plan and next, putting together some proposals to get a bit more start-up capital for them to really take off!
Something else that I've been really excited about is introducing yoga to a group of the professional women here. They love it! I heard from one of their bosses at a clinic that he opened up one of the exam rooms to find one of his staff members practicing her "moves"! (I think that is good...) I had nine women come last Wednesday - that is pretty darn good for this nascent club and the fact that pretty much no one had ever even heard of yoga before I started talking about it!
I really wish I could say more about what Shane is up to. He is just continuing to push the projects forward at Snake Park, Child and Gender Protection and the Martial Arts Academy. He's doing really great work supporting them, and helping them deal with all of the challenges that arise. He's written so many project proposals since he's been here! Now, some of it is really starting to pay off, Snake Park is going to be getting some support from two different sources! One of them to build a "green" building on the park for day activities, but it will include things that are novel here - like maximizing solar capture and energy efficiency and considering insulative properties. That should be really cool once it gets going. He's also doing a lot of waiting, waiting for the protective suit for the women's self-defense program and waiting (still) for the floor mats for the Academy. He's also been trying to body build again. This comes with the requirement of eating at minimum 85 grams of protein a day, which can be a bit demanding on a diet of dried green peas, peanut butter, oatmeal and eggs - really, that is a lot of peanut butter!
As you can see we are both keeping quite busy (I didn't even write all of it!) but it has been really good, and lately I've actually had a few people acknowledge the positive impact I've made on their lives and that we should change our citizenship and move to Lesotho but that at least they will remember me for a long time after I've left here. You can imagine, it is heartwarming and heartbreaking because I already see how hard of a time I'm going to have leaving these relationships behind, but knowing that we have to! In that vein, we are really working to figure out the logistics of grad school. Shane has officially decided that being a Doctor (of Osteopathy most likely) is what he really wants to be when he grows up. This means that I will (hopefully) get accepted into a program begining straight from PC next August and he will take the hard science classes that he needs as pre req, take the MCAT, and then (hopefully) get accepted into a program during the 2nd year of my Master's (prefferably, close by...) In any case, the logistics of this are a bit more complex than it would seem, but - at least we have time to think about it all and try our best to work out "the best" solution.
One last note - last week we got a lovely letter from my grandma that she had posted 2 weeks prior, the same day we finally got my cousin's high school graduation invites posted May 10th!
That's the latest from our lives here in Lesotho. As always, we hope to hear from you and we think about all our dear friends and family so often.
Hugs from Lesotho,
Carol and Shane

Friday, October 19, 2012

Time Flies When You're Having Fun!

To melt your hearts!



Hello Dear Friends and Family,

It's been awhile again - and a lot has happened in the last few weeks! As many of you know and most prominently was that I got sick (with flu?) and had some challenges with that. Including a really misearble 8 hour taxi ride to Maseru, a series of ever-enjoyable encounters with PC medical, traumatic blood draws, allergic reactions, an eye opening experience with some of the top-notch health care in Lesotho, them trying to drown me in IV fluid and so on... I have half a mind to write a bit more about the experience, talking about the quality of care here at one of the best facilities - how it compares to what I see at the government hospital locally, and of course as health care is a big issue in the U.S. right now - what it was like compared to how it likely would have been if I got something like this in America. Let me know what you guys think about that, but I don't think I'm up to it right now. So, that accounts for about 9 days of lapsed time since the last post.

When we got back from Maseru (Shane was diligently with me and amazing! I also got a lot of much appreciated support from some of the Peace Corps staff, as well as really meaningful support of family back home and even several of our Basotho friends here at site), we pretty much hit the ground running with a visit from the upper management of WFP (and even World Vision) Lesotho, it was a really great and productive visit professionally and we had some great social opportunities as well. This was followed by an invite to a WFP meeting in Maseru, so back I went - it was busy, but great! The meeting was really helpful and informative, I had a chance to not only network some more with World Vision but also with an FAO - I'm really hoping that those meetings will also be fruitful in supporting some of the projects that I've been working on. At the same time, I was really welcomed by some of my collegues at WFP and had a great time, eating great food and having great conversation with them after the meetings. The only downside is that Shane was stuck here in Qacha's Nek studying Chemistry...  I also got to meet up with one of my PCV friends who lives "up North" and we don't get to see each other very much - it was a great suprise and gave us an opportunity to start thinking about planning a backpacking trip together! She said she got to see all of the PCVs who were recruited to welcome the newest PCV trainees - the 2013 Education volunteers as they landed at the airport. That was pretty exciting news and we are looking forward to welcoming them when they get to their sites in December. On Sunday we got to return from Maseru in brand new cars (like 50km new!) from WFP - very much needed! so, that was also kinda fun. It is a switch from the Toyota Land Cruiser to Nissan Patrols, so we'll see how the Nissan performs in this rugged landscape lacking infrastructure!

Coming back late last Sunday night, I realized that the week ahead would also be busy. Having the opportunity to go to 3 schools and do various activities with the kids - I taught at one school about Integrated Pest Management, at another about HIV/AIDS and the other about Assertiveness. I really love when I have the opportunity to got to the schools! Below are some photos that I took while I was out. The weather has been really changing a lot - sometimes hot and sunny, sometimes misty, rain with SERIOUS thunderstorms, yesterday we had some small-ish hail (Shane was feeling tough because he walked home in it!) The moisture though, has been a real blessing - last year during this time, everyone was hoping for rain that didn't come until the middle of December. People have really been plowing their fields and planting now. I've even noticed that it seems there is a lot of fallow fields that look like they haven't been planted in quite a few years, that are being plowed up and planted. I look at this with a hopeful eye that the food security of Lesotho may improve - at least for this year... If you look closely at the 2nd photo you'll even see a tractor! (Not a real one because it isn't John Deere, but a tractor nonetheless) and you can see the road in the foreground of both photos- this is one of the main roads in the district.

In the meantime my other projects haven't exactly been waiting for me. We had Nutrition Corner this week for the nursing mothers, where we cooked traditional sorghum porridge but added peanut butter to increase the protein for the babies. I was also supposed to resume yoga classes this week on Wednesday but the huge storm required me to cancel it, but we're crossing our fingers that the weather will hold out so we can start on Monday. I'm also working with some local counterparts to try to put together something like a "Farmer's Market" once a month here in the district, so that has been fun, but has been a bit demanding as we start it up. Even the beekeeping project and the water tank project have been missing me, but I met last night with the beekeepers and we worked on their business plan. They got really excited when we put up the estimated annual sales on the cash flow projections!

Shane's counterpart at Snake Park has had some other committments to attend to lately, one being a workshop for grant funding that they are very excited to be recieving, so they haven't been doing a lot of work together with Snake Park. Shane has been working with his team to give several more Fight Like a Girl workshops, which are getting extremely positive responses from both the girls and the teachers. He has also decided to stop his running training program and switch back to the body building program - so, we have to figure out how to get him over 80 grams of protein per day!

So, I think this will influence my activities in the kitchen. However, all of this going to Maseru has meant that we have gotten to eat some treats - like cheese! And avocados, yogurt and mushrooms, so that has been pretty great. I made caramelized onion and mushroom parmesean calzones this week and "ghetto" mozzerella sticks. We had tuna burgers last night with avocado based spread and of course we've had- guacamole! Tonight, egg rolls and this weekend I hope to try my hand at baking German Stollen (fruit) bread, though I think you're supposed to bake it for the winter solstice... It should still be delicious regardless of the time of year.

In other news, we were able to get our cat a rabies shot - which was kind of a relief because I had heard something about a rabies outbreak and it would be really sad for us if something like that happened to Serurubele, so hopefully we are in the clear now. By the way, the vet informed me that he would only give our cat the shot if we promised to vote for Obama - we've had quite a few pro-Obama Basotho approach us here... so, there's some globalization for you! Our garden is coming along, we still have some rabbits/birds/moles eating things, but we have some kale growing up and the tomato seedlings are really taking off, and some beans and squash are starting to come up along with our potatoes. It is so funny being in this early summer mode as we're hearing all about fall up there, even if I go to look up recipes and things online, there is all this talk about pumpkin and fall fare and halloween - it is a bit confusing! Let's see, Shane has finished The Kite Runner and is primarily reading a Chemistry textbook, while I'm still working on The Long Walk to Freedom- Nelson Mandela's autobiography.

I think I'll go ahead and wrap up with that but we look forward to hearing from you and I'll try to not have such a long lapse before my next post - hope you enjoyed our news from Lesotho and we are sending all our best your way!

Carol and Shane

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Not hiding...

Lesotho slide...

It has been awhile since my last post! It is common here, if a Mosotho hasn't seen you for a while to ask why you have been hiding yourself... hence the title of this post.

The previous post was put up right before we left for our mid-service training near Maseru - yes, we have officially passed the mid-point of our service, we have 10 months left! We enjoyed the training, it was fun to catch up with the other PCVs in our group and see all of the accomplishments of our terrific volunteers. We also got to stay in a pretty swanky (for Lesotho) hotel where we got three full meals a day and bathed with hot running water! After the training, as Shane and I awaited our transport, we got to spend time in Maseru. Peace Corps sent us to the dentist, and then we went to the mall! We got to go grocery shopping in a real grocery store, eat pizza at a nice restaurant, I got to have a real mocha, we even checked out some new clothes (the people in the shops didn't know that we can't afford them!) And to top it all off we went and saw Dark Knight in the movie theater! We got large soda, popcorn and candy too and the whole thing cost us just over $10- imagine. As one of our fellow PCVs noted, we have been in Lesotho far too long, if Maseru is that exciting for us.

September has been eventful in our Peace Corps world, I'm not sure which stars aligned this way, but it really hasn't been a great month for me, as well as several other volunteers we know. I'll spare you the details, but we were supposed to have a BBQ party to welcome our new CHED 12 volunteers, but most of us weren't in the mood to celebrate and the weather happened to be cold, rainy and terrible for an outdoor BBQ on the planned date. So, we got together briefly with the others, and we also had the pleasure of hosting Lin and Bruce again, we had a great time drinking coffee, playing cards, cooking, talking and we even got to see a fun suprise from Sister Magdaleana:

Adorable Tabby Kittens!

who also gave us the first rhubarb of the season which we enjoyed in a very delicious apple rhubarb crisp.

As for our projects, Shane has been continuing to do really well. They have currently submitted a preliminary proposal for the construction of a Green Building on the Snake Park, that will be used for meetings, workshops, etc... but also as a dojo for the martial arts academy. They are pretty excited about that. They are still axiously awaiting the mats for the academy that were in the last grant. Shane has also assemble a team to go teach the Fight Like a Girl women's escape training to high schools around the district and that has been going really well so far,

Shane with his FLAG crew

and it sounds like the girls are very receptive to it - but they are still waiting for the protective suit to be sent from the states so the girls can get the realistic scenario training that is fundamental to the program philosophy. He has otherwise been doing really well, he is diligently trying to figure out what he wants to be when he grows up and how we can make it happen. He finished reading Pathologies of Power by Paul Farmer, has been working on Body By Science, and he just started The Kite Runner.

New Puff Adder brought to Snake Park in a WFP bag

As for me, last week things fell apart a bit - PC challenges! Fortunately they seem to be on the way up this week. The electricity has been off at the WFP office/education building since the begining of this month. Also, we have been registering people for the Emergengy Feeding that is a response to the Prime Minister's announcement of the food shortage crisis, so - the car has not been available for my school activities. This has led me to reach out to my secondary projects, 'M'e Matumelo (from the bakery) and I had been working on doing a business training about record keeping for some of the women with micro-business here in town. Unfortunately, after a lot of good and hard work planning, she came to me two days before the workshop saying that she was having some pretty severe family problems and she wouldn't be able to go through with the workshop. So, we decided to ask one of the trainers from the government ministry to step in a just do a quick and dirty one day training, so that we wouldn't have to cancel.

Women's small business training

At the same time, last week one of the guys who is working with the bees shattered his collarbone! So, he wasn't sure when he'll be up to getting together again! The water tank for the sisters is coming along and is almost finished, though the worker we hired has been a bit reluctant for some reason - so, we dealt with that last week too, but the tank is, in fact, finally almost finished!

Finishing up the tank

On a lighter note I did get to attend "Nutrition Corner" for nursing mothers and spronsored by EGPAF last week. We cooked "enriched papa" where we added eggs and milk for extra protein to the traditional staple - papa. We also talked about delivering assertive messages and even did practice role plays, including disscussing with their husbands the use of contraceptives and taking their children for the recommended clinic visits.

Yummy - enriched papa

I also had my first yoga class with some of the local, professional women last night and 5 showed up and seemed to like it - this is a great start and I am really hoping for it to continue. So, PC life continues. Our garden is growing pretty well, the rains haven't really come yet, so we are mostly watering by hand but it seems to be OK so far. We've had some rabbit nibbling on our stuff, but nothing devastating, so that is good. Other gardens around are starting to show signs of life too, and the farmers have mostly planted their fields - we saw this planter, which maybe has potential to be no-till...


It is starting to get noticably warmer, which is also good. I've had three favorite things lately: one is our camp/solar shower that we recently hung up above our otherwise worthless bathtub - now we can boil the water, mix it up and have an up-to-7-minute shower! Number two is a triple decker PB&J, 3 slices PB between two, and jam between two... yes, these are the important things in life. Lastly, I have been in love with Parmesean cheese! We brought some back from Maseru and it is such a nice addition to almost anything, just to "kick it up a notch" normal lentil soup really does morph into something amazing with a few grates of Parm, cracked pepper and a drizzle of olive oil! We also made homemade ricotta and spinach with parmesean cheese stuffed ravioli from scratch, that was pretty delicious.I haven't been baking as much because I've been busy but recently made some pretty delicious banana bread and a friend inspired me to make bagels again. I've been reading a lot, I really enjoyed the book "We are all Welcome Here" I also read a book by Wallace Stegner - Crossing to Safety and just finished "Man's Search for Meaning" by holocaust survivor and "logotherapist" Victor Frankl.

I've got to run right now, so I'll leave it at that. Hope you all are doing well and enjoy the update and photos. All our best from Lesotho.

Carol and Shane