Linda in Lesotho

July 11, 2013 in Linda in Lesotho

Linda in Lesotho

July 11

July 11

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Toddlers in their new chairs with one of the older girls in the pic

My days are spent mostly driving around Mohale’s Hoek doing errands such as getting more propane for the stove at the project, hauling people and animal feed and taking eggs to different places to sell.

Today I got do take care of a project of my own.  There are two sister’s here that are from Zululand.  Their parents brought them here for some unknown reason and then they both died of AIDS. The girls are HIV positive and seem to be on the fringe of the group and are shy.  They both need shoes badly as they can’t attend church or some of the other gatherings without shoes.  I took both of them into town with me when I was sent to buy more formula for “our” baby.  We went to the little department store and I told the clerk we wanted school shoes.  She showed us the most sturdy ugly shoes imaginable…and if I think they were ugly they really were bad {I can almost hear Kim laughing at this}.  Anyway, I could tell the girls were disappointed when they saw these shoes so I asked about “church” shoes.  We were shown ridiculously flimsy cheap shoes but very cute.  The girls of course were very interested in those…and we bought them.  I am slightly worried that my having bought them shoes will set them even more apart but I also bought tiny plastic chairs so the little ones don’t have to sit on the floor or ground to eat.  The chairs are a huge hit.  They won’t get out of them!

July 10

I have not updated the blog for a number of reasons.

  1. There is not time!  Each day is very full.
  2. I can only get internet at a local hotel (Mount Maloti Hotel) and when I am there there is too much going on.  Due to the free WiFi, the hotel has become a hangout for the local PCV’s so there is always people to talk with and its too hard to concentrate.
  3. There is so much to say about each day that it is overwhelming and I don’t know where to start

The past few days have been a flurry with trying to ready for the building project.  Plus, of course, there is the regular stuff like helping with 12 kids here at the house where I am staying but also Sr. Juliana is trying to provide food once a day for all the orphans that she has placed in the near by homes.  That number is around 25, mostly boys while there is mostly girls stay at my house.  Most of the homes can’t provide any food for the boys, only a place to sleep.  When they are in school, the government is suppose to provide a meal for them, which mostly happens but not always.  During weekends and holiday’s (like right now as some of the grades have finished writing their exams so they are not  in school until the end of the month) they have nothing to eat.

 Sr. J has some local ladies that cook huge pots of papa (cornmeal mush) over an open fire at the area near where we will build the new building.  The kids help bring firewood, which is brush that they hack from the area.  One day they slaughtered one of our pigs (there were 7 now there are 6) and fed the kids.

 There is a chicken project with 200 laying hens and lots of eggs but the eggs are not for the kids.  They are sold and are pretty much the only income Sr. J generates right now.  The chicken house and battery cages were paid for by a grant from a USA program.  Sr. J has been able to keep the chickens profitable but it is a constant challenge to buy the layer mash (special feed), have the feed hauled and of course all the complications with having so many chickens in tiny cages.  Let’s just say it’s not a good life for those chickens.

She also has the pigs which are doing well and provide work for people to take care of them.  Same with her cow.  The cow went dry about a year ago but is pregnant again and we bought some hay and grain for it yesterday.  Sr. J knows that it is important to invest the money in the cow so as to get milk for the kids ASAP.  The calf should arrive in March and so there will be milk then.  Note to self: we need another cow so they are on alternate schedule of being dry or fresh.

There is a large garden at the Center that is well prepared and looks like it will be productive as there is lots of manure from the chickens and pigs.  Since it is winter right now there isn’t much growing but the days are getting warmer and they have planted spinach and lots and lots of cabbage.

Today began with Sr. Juliana showing up while I was still drinking coffee and in my pJ’s.  She said we needed to get down to the project (about a mile and half away)to deal with all of the stuff we bought yesterday in Maseru (the capital city)and left in a store room there.  I have become her driver as she hates to drive.  We have a small, nice Toyota pickup (known locally as a bakkie) that was donated sometime ago.

We had had a long day before as we went to Maseru (about a 2 hours drive) and then had a meeting at night with Ntate George, the builder for the new project when we arrived back in Mohale’s Hoek.  There are lots of details yet to be worked out to get the plans together and we really needed to talk to him. Fortunately, one of my accomplishments of the Maseru day was to get my old Blackberry phone set up for internet.  Not an easy accomplishment but I was given a tip by a PCV of how to find the guy who could get in and change the code to make it usable here.  Once it is set up you buy a local SIM card and minutes to access internet.  It is painfully slow and doesn’t work all the time but at least it is something.

Anyway, because I was able to bring up email on my phone I was able to go through a list of questions from TLC, the group sponsoring the building.  It was a very productive meeting.  The factors that are tough to work out include, but are not limited, to the following:

  • Placement of new building is in flood plain area, as dry as Lesotho is, when it rains it is a gully washer.  A storage building built on the land was flooded last year and now has major foundation issues
  • The local power company already installed a light pole for the new building (I had not even heard that we had asked for this but we must have sometime ago as I’m sure it takes a long time to get them out here).  Where they placed the pole means the building has to be right there.
  • Building plans must be drawn in metrics for them to be understood here.  We have a wonderful rough plan but we need to have an Architect convert it to a real working blueprint. TLC is working on this.  It is really our next important step to accomplish.  Once it is done then Ntate George can work up the quote for cost and we will decide then on how much can be done.  I have a feeling that our plans are going to be way over our budget of $50,000 for the project.  This amount must include site development, septic system, foundation work that will withstand possible flood conditions…etc, etc.
  • The need to start collecting sand to make the concrete blocks is a real issue if we are going to save money by having local guys make our blocks on site.  Right now the rivers are very low and they can get local sand cheaply, if we wait to long that will become difficult.  The bishop has decreed that we should get sand now and he will cover the cost and the men can use his truck (which I think is actually a tractor with a flatbed trailer…not sure how this is going to work for sand but I’ll find out soon)

Today we addressed the situation of the placement for the building.  We needed to bring the Bishop over and discuss and get his permission to change the site  so, Sr. J called him to come right after early morning prayers.  We walked around and came up with a site that is further over than originally planned but is seems better for lots of reasons.  It may (or may not) be out of the worst of the flood area, it is just on the other side of the new pole so that won’t be a problem (I hope) and it leaves an open area next to the Storage Building that would be a nice outdoor gathering spot for people coming for classes and food distribution.

Today, I was also able to compose a long email to TLC with concerns and make a rough footprint drawing on my computer and was able to get that sent off to them.

I am seeing the handwriting on the wall that I may not still be here when this project finally wraps up as I am leaving in January but I think that this is the critical time for me to be here to assist in the process of getting this project off the ground.