Linda in Lesotho

August 2, 2013 in Linda in Lesotho

Linda in Lesotho.

Sunday, July 28

The days pass in either a flurry of activity or sitting and reading. I read two books at a time because I read one during the day that is a hard copy book that I can put in my daypack to carry around and read when I am waiting (which is often).  The other is on my Kindle Fire which I can comfortably read by night in bed I am thankful Adam and Ashley loaned me their Kindle Fire.

Last Wednesday I was suppose to attend an all day workshop with Sr. J presented by World Vision at the local hotel.  When I found it was to be in Sesotho I decided that I could be better utilized by driving to Mafeteng to pick up chicken food.  The food for our laying hens comes in 50 KG bags and we can buy it here in MH but it’s a little cheaper in Mafeteng. It’s about 50 miles north of here and the road is pretty good, you just have to watch carefully for people, livestock, careless taxi drivers, etc.

On Friday, I went with Sister to a village near here called Ha Tsepo.  Our task was to find some of her volunteers and give them the information from the World Vision workshop.  She must of called ahead because there were three women waiting for us by the side of the road when we got there.

After she talked to them we made other stops to spread the word.  One of her volunteers is a matron at the local prison so we stopped to see her. The Mohale’s Hoek Correctional Facility is very dilapidated looking place with a chain link fence (with many patched holes in it!) and a couple strands of barbed wire across the top.  The yard was full of men in red blankets milling around.  They do have a gorgeous garden outside the fence.  It must be a low security prison. I asked if I could take photos and they said no, definitely not!

We also stopped at a local manufacturing business that is doing exceptionally well.  It employees 90 people and uses the hanger of the little local airport that doesn’t operate as an airport anymore.  Inside people are standing around tables and desks sorting dried rosehips.  Locally there are many wild rosebushes and the little red fruits called “hips” are high in vitamins and antioxidants.  They buy these hips from individuals all over Lesotho.  Sr. Juliana nudged me at one point and said “that’s how we can make extra money!”  I still don’t know if she was serious.  Anyway, they showed us how they sort them then dry them then mix them with tea or put them through an extractor for concentrated rose hip oil.  They almost exclusively export everything to Germany.

Friday evening I was invited by Shawna to come over for dinner.  She was making a Birthday dinner for Shana (I know, it’s confusing but their names really are Shawna and Shana), a PCV from the same group who lives a few miles out of MH.  It was such a pleasant evening with the girls.  They are both interesting and fun to talk to. Shawna made a fabulous dinner of potstickers, fried rice and an amazing peanut butter chocolate cake!  I contributed a salad made from diced cucumber and green pepper with a mayonnaise dressing.  It was such a delicious dinner!

Saturday was spent trying to get the printer going here.  I went to the hotel and downloaded the drivers onto my laptop and, unbelievably, I got the printer to work!!  I was able to print the needed letter from TLC to take to Immigration but now I need to get some new ink cartridges, grrrrrr.  It will always be something.  I emailed Adam and asked him to send some.  The package that he sent me 2 weeks ago still hasn’t arrived so I don’t know how long packages take yet.  Shana and Shawna said 2 weeks at best and 4 weeks at worst.

Sunday, today, was spent pretty much just hanging out with the kids and reading.  In the afternoon I walked with Sr. J over to where she’s rented a little room for a boy who she is helping attend the St. Elizabeth’s Training Institute which is near.  She and 3 other Sisters were setting up his room.  She had a quilt for him that was full of holes because it had been chewed by a mouse which I volunteered to fix.  I was able patch it using my sewing machine but it sure didn’t look pretty.

This evening the kids wanted to watch a video so we watched My Friend Flicka which was probably made in the 50’s.  Again, they didn’t care, they loved it even though the toddlers fell asleep.

Wednesday, July 25

Today was some kind of KidsFest Day.  The big orphanage in town invited all of our kids, and other kids, to a presentation where they had Police, Social Workers and other people talk to them about their rights and how to protect themselves from being exploited and abused.  Because of HIV/AIDS there are many kids that are heads of households.  The old tradition of “it takes a village to raise a kid” has come apart and there has been a rise in human trafficking, sexual abuse and violence against these kids.  They cannot all be protected, there are just too many so there has been a push to inform them what can happen and how to report it.  There were probably 200 kids there.  At least half were too young to listen or understand but they had a fun day to play and were given some food.  Our kids had a ball.  I drove them there and back in 2 loads with the back of the truck literally packed with kids.  I think I took close to 40 St. Camillus kids.  I felt like a school bus driver.  They were singing and waving to everyone we passed.  I drove very slowly as I was freaked out at having so much responsibility.  We all made it safely. Whew!

When we all got back the Bishop requested a photo.  He disappeared into his house and was gone so long that I figured I misunderstood and he had gone off to do something else.  He finally came back outside wearing his official, beautiful Bishop’s robe.  It’s a bright fuchsia color.  He asked that 3 chairs be brought out so he, Sr. J and I could sit and the children stand with us for the photo.  It is a great photo and I love it.

Tuesday, July 23

Today we took Slindi and Maphoka to the Social Welfare office in Mohale’s Hoek to begin addressing their desire to return to their home in South Africa.  Much to the relief of the girls Sr. J was very open to exploring what can be done to help them return home.  She had already laid the groundwork by making a call to the Social Dev office, explaining the situation and arranging today’s interview with a social worker.

I dropped the 3 of them off at the SD office and headed up to the Immigration office to work on my own problem.  I arrived to find ‘Me Bertha who tried to be very helpful but believes that I also need a letter from the organization that sent me here.  I explained that even though I am representing an organization (TLC) I am not being paid by them and they are not responsible for me in any way.  She thought about this and said “it’s a most unusual situation” and that she would check with her director in Maseru as to what the proper procedure will be.  I am to call her on Thursday afternoon.

When I got back to the SD office if found a very happy Slindi and a sort of happy Maphoka.  Maphoka is torn about wanting to return to a family she doesn’t know and a language she doesn’t remember.  The social worker had made some calls to the SD in Johannesburg and is organizing setting up the process to have them transferred.  We took the girls home but needed to go back to meet with Bernice the social worker in the afternoon with a phone that she could use to call South Africa.  Lesotho social workers are not allowed to call across the border, maybe too expensive, I don’t know because they can work on the case only if you provide the “airtime”.  I volunteered my phone and we met with Bernice and she started making calls.  A snag developed when we never heard back  after waiting for some information.  I ended up giving Bernice my phone to use over the next day or so, along with M100 (about $10) to buy more airtime.

While we waited though, I had an interesting conversation with Bernice.  I asked if this was a unusual case and she said, “no”.    Apparently it is not that unusual because Basotho men who work in SA often have babies there with South African mothers, then they bring them to Lesotho and all sorts of situations arise so that kids are stranded here with no documents and no family.  She said she has a number of times driven kids to relative’s in the SA, the problem is usually finding the relatives and getting them to agree to take the kids.  She is doing a good job and trying to do what is needed but she also said that these stories often don’t end well for kids. Because there are so many unknowns Sr. J is inclined to want to keep them here but knows that her goal is suppose to be to reunite them with family.

Today I did a crazy thing.  In front of a group of our kids I went around the yard and picked up trash.  I’m sure they think that’s a crazy, futile effort because the wind will just blow more trash into the yard, but I just couldn’t stand it any longer.  The problem then is, what to do with it.  Each house has a place in the yard to throw trash, and really, it’s not much because they don’t buy much and they burn every burnable thing while cooking outside.  However, when the wind blows we get trash in the yard.  Mostly plastic bags plus the candy wrappers from all the candy the Bishop brings.  The kids watched then took the bundle from me to probably just throw where the wind will blow it all back but at least I made a tiny point.

This evening i sat down with Mookho so she could help me with my Sesotho.  I have been helping her with her English compositions so I wrote a Sesotho composition that she graded and help me rewrite correctly.  It went something like this:  I have a black dog. Her name is Marley. She is nice. She doesn’t bite.  She lives in my house. She is a pretty dog.   Seems simple right?  Yeah well, I didn’t get an A.  I’m lucky to live with a bunch of little kids as everyone keeps repeating everything for their benefit to get them to start talking. So at least I’m not the only one trying to learn Sesotho around here.

Monday, July 22

Yesterday was another nice day!  I spent most of the morning visiting with Shawna the PCV who lives across the street at FTC.  She came over here to use my sewing machine to make some curtains for her rondeval.  We seem to really have a lot in common and I enjoy talking to her.

In the afternoon I read my book outside, hung with the kids and relaxed.  There was something big happening at St. Patricks (the church outside my house) with lots and lots of people and activity.  I just watched comfortably from the porch.  Mookho dressed up in a white dress with blue sash and a white hat.  I asked why the special outfit and she said that it was a special Girls Day at church.  I noticed quite a few other girls in the same white outfits.

This morning there were two girls at our doorstep that look very thin and hungry.  I had seen the same girls on Saturday talking to ‘me Makatiso.  She told them to return on Monday to see Sr. J.  They were here first thing.  Seems they live fairly close, they have 2 more siblings and are living with their Grandmother who is ill with AIDS.  We went over to check up on the situation.  Sr. J is familiar with them but hadn’t seen them for a while.  The situation is terrible.  The kids are starving.  There was a handful of maize meal in the house for all 5 of them.  The “house” is  a 10’ x 10’ stone building with one window.  They were getting ready to make a fire on the floor to heat some water.  There is a single bed.  I don’t know how they could all sleep in there.  We took the girls to the farm and got them 25lbs of maize meal, some eggs and cabbage.  I have a feeling we’ll be checking in on them more frequently.

We also went over to St. Patricks’ High School to collect the grades of 3 of our orphans that go to school there.  She was very disappointed to find all three are basically failing.  All are living in the village.  One has a baby and recently married the baby’s father.  She is 15 or 16 and is the young mother we drove home the other night when she forgot her key.  I know Sr. J is going to keep trying with these kids but it hurts to see that they are failing when she works so hard to keep them in school and to find work for them.

We came home and both Sr. J and I worked on paper work.  She ,on her monthly reports that dog her with all the writing and the accounting.  I, on preparing a description and statistics about the project including it’s history.  Sherry asked if I could write an up-to-date info and stats sheet about the project.  Also composed a letter to send out to PCV friends as a fundraiser for TLC.

A wonderful bit of news is that a friend has been found in Tacoma to convert the building plans into working blueprints.  It will take awhile to complete but it is the next step we have been waiting for!

Saturday, July 20

Absolutely a beautiful gorgeous day; the wind stopped blowing!  I went to town and bought some more formula for Kamo and frozen chicken, apples and cookies for the rest of the kids.  Oh, and some cookies for me too.   ‘Me Makatiso immediately wanted to cook some of the chicken which she fried in some crushed crackers and it was really delicious.  She likes to cook but pretty much lets the kids do all the cooking.

The afternoon was perfectly brilliant so I took my book to read on the back porch.  As I settled down a boys/mens choir showed up to the little church hall next door and started practicing.  I went over with my camera and got lots of pictures and video.  They are really good.  They had a drum made from a cooking oil tin and attached was the back of an old chair with bits of metal strung across to make a tambourine like thing.  The drumsticks were made from two lengths of rubber hose.  I’ll try to upload a YouTube of them.

There was also a point when I realized that St. Patrick’s, the church right in front of the house, was having a clean-up day.  A large group of people were milling around talking and occasionally picking up a piece of trash.  There was still lots of trash when they left but at least the idea was good.

Not a lot else to report.  Spent the afternoon watching the kids play, holding Lithaboho, reading, studying Sesotho and playing with my camera.  A nice relaxing day.