Hello Dear Friends and Family,
Another week (and some) has passed for us into winter in
since our last post, and for most of you, into spring in various places of . We hope this post finds you all doing wonderfully! It has
been continuing to be cold, in the mid 40’s in the evenings! Unfortunately, we’ve still been losing the battle with our coal stove.Yesterday on the
walk to work, we saw a sand pile that had frost on all of the “higher” parts of
it, leaving some parts that didn’t creating a mottled look and the sun was just
starting to hit it, so it was sparkly – it was pretty. It has been sunny during
the day, meaning that it is warmer outside in the sun than inside the concrete
buildings. We have been enjoying hearing about the warm days and blooms of spring, including
visits to greenhouses and farmer’s markets in our news from the northern
hemisphere. Every one in America
has their eyes on the National Election coming up next Saturday the 26th ,
we even saw some Election Observers from SADC this weekend. We, along with
everyone we talk to, are hoping for peace during this time. There has been a lot
of campaigning, especially in town. I think because people don’t rely as much
on TV, the different parties have been going around in buses, trucks, whatever...
with bullhorns, music, flags, stickers, T-shirts and a lot of community
gatherings – where, of course, they sing too. We’ve been hearing a little bit
about the American elections that are coming too, including that the TV
campaigning gets old really quickly! Lesotho
We received two lovely care packages that we would like to send out an enormous Thank You for! One of them contained some things we didn’t think we would see for two years; Costco almonds and quinoa! Both major treats that we cooked up and ate some of right away! Also, the other contained the perfect ingredients for an at home spa day – in PC! As soon as they came, I busted out my bucket (and Shane was sweet and got out our gas heater for me…) and did a 6 step facial treatment, and then I did my hair too – even with conditioner! It is such a treat and it is really nice after smelling raw sewage no less than 4 times a day on my walk to/from work, to smell some things that smell so nice. Last Sunday, one of the other volunteers was having a bad day, so she and another PCV came over and we did a spa day together – it seemed really fun for all of us (except maybe Shane, but he had fun laughing at us and taking pictures).
We’ve been busy the last couple weeks, both in and out of “work.” We’ve been spending time on the weekend with some of the other volunteers, which has been fun (see above), but it keeps us up past our bedtime of 9:30! We even got to meet a South Korean girl that is one of 3 volunteers piloting an equivalent of PC for South Korea – that was pretty fun too. We also met up with some of the other volunteers to watch a championship soccer game – it seems that Shane is becoming a soccer convert.
This last Satuday, we joined another volunteer who had arranged an event with the Baylor clinic here, to honor International AIDS Candlelight Memorial Day. I brought some of the youth from the library program, and we read a book about HIV/AIDS, and then we got to watch a presentation (with a bunch of other kids) done by Ntate Nkooa – Shane’s supervisor, that he does as part of his “Face your Fear” support group. Him and a group of other guys did a Shodo Khan karate demonstration, and he brought a Puff Adder! He discussed that, as with anything, knowledge is power. If you are afraid of snakes or getting beat up, you can empower yourself with knowledge and then you will be able too overcome your fears. The same is true with HIV and AIDS, it is important to not be so afraid of it that you just shut it out. It is important to not only know the facts about transmission and how it is spread so that you can protect yourself and even to support others if they are positive without fearing that you will get it, but also to not fear knowing your status and how to live healthy even if you are positive. It is also important to be able to talk about it, because without that conversation, we can’t fight it together. In any case, he’s pretty awesome, and a bit atypical.
|Shane with two of the other PCVs from the Education program and the Doctor from Baylor clinic|
|Getting warmed up for the presentation (there were soccer games happening on the other side of the fence and we ended up stealing a lot of their spectators!)|
Last week I got a chance to do a workshop on teaching Life Skills, HIV/AIDS stuff, and about Agriculture and the Environment. It was really fun, we mostly played games that the teachers seemed to enjoy, including a Jeopordy knock-off. I stayed overnight at this rural place, in a guest house. It did not have running water or electricity, but I really love this about Basotho culture: even having so many “withouts” they always pride themselves on keeping things really clean and having some things that are pretty. We usually feel like slobs whenever Basotho come into our house... this is quite an embarassment, especially for me - because I'm the woman (refer back to the gender roles post and note that lack of perfect spotlessness is completely my fault). Please note in the photo below of the guest house, that they brought me water for my coffee on a silver tray!
So, as promised, here is a photo of A GIRL! (we have almost never seem them with girls) with her wire truck. Please note the steering wheel and she even had good shocks on the thing.
One part of Basotho culture that I wanted to mention today is the indirectness of communication that they prefer, in general. This is really hard for Americans (especially, very direct/clueless to hints me) because we are used to being pretty direct, even if we don’t always realize it. In Basotho culture, it is common if you ask someone to do something, they will say yes – even if they know they can’t, won’t or don’t want to do it, and then, just not do it. This is one example, but many abound. Often if you are doing something that isn’t really good, they will hint at telling you, but not really tell you. Or, they will vaguely hint at what they want, but not really say. This makes cultural integration a bit difficult for us volunteers. Circumlocution in general, is extremely common.
Also, since I’ve already done a bit about the family, I wanted to mention this because I forgot it previously. Polygamy, it used to be very common and legal, especially for men who could afford to support more than one woman. Now, though it is not common for men to be married to more than one woman, you can often find multiple concurrent partners – as in, for men, it is pretty much expected. This is different for us and is actually one of the contributors to the spread of HIV in Lesotho. I think the statistic is something like 85% of new cases of HIV are spread by married people.
I think that is all I’ve got on culture for today. In general we are doing a lot of the same stuff, cooking, reading, playing Scrabble and trying to stay warm. Shane has just started Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible and I’m still really enjoying The Bottom Billion. Many people having been awaiting Shane’s Jiu Jit Su program grant to go through, we go around town and he always gets asked when everything is starting. I’ve been working with the bakery some more and that has been really fun. Mostly trying to take it from informal small business into a more formal structure with records and whatnot. Also, we read The Berenstein Bears (does anyone else remember those books?) at the library, and then made paper airplanes and even had races – it was a blast!
We are still awaiting the money to come through on the water grant so that we can really get on that as well. So, as you can see, we are keeping busy and having fun. We’ll be laying low this weekend though and hopefully getting some rest. We are also looking forward to a little vacation on The Wild Coast for my birthday! The “Sardine Run” starts on June 20th so, in addition to sardines we understand there are a lot of whales and dolphins that come to eat them! We hope to do some marine wildlife spotting, and maybe enjoy a bit warmer weather as well as a real bathtub with hot running water! (Shane told me last night he had a dream he snuck into somewhere with a bathtub and it was really nice until he got caught). We are also looking forward to the new group of CHED trainees coming in at the beginning of June, I’m looking forward to helping a little bit with their training, we hope to host new volunteers like we were hosted last year during training so that they can see how our lives are, and I’m even working with a few other PCVs to edit the Lesotho PC cookbook (surprise!).
On that note, we look forward to hearing from you guys as well, please keep the emails coming.
All the best and hugs from Lesotho!
Carol and Shane