Linda in Lesotho

July 11, 2013 in Linda in Lesotho

Excited to be able to share a blog from Linda, our Outreach Facilitator, about her time in Mohale’s Hoek helping us break ground on the construction for the St. Camillus Center for Orphans and Vulnerable Children. Check out Linda in Lesotho for more of her photos and stories, and we will be posting her updates as they come through here as well…!

Thanks, Linda!

Saturday Morning

Started out with amazing luck getting on the internet!  Sent emails and was eventually lucky and got on my Blog to post the above.  This is a big step!  This Modem that I bought from Econet is so slow that after each click I can go and do something or study my Sesotho book before the page opens.  Thus, I am only opening very important emails and nothing else.


Hanging out with my roommates!

Another first for today was I took a complete bath and washed my hair with a bucket of warm water.  I am lucky to have unlimited water here at the house but it is cold.  I can heat it pretty fast with my electric kettle and am careful to boil all my drinking water.

I am listening always to the children in the background, they are singing, talking, screaming, crying and giggling.  They sound like chirpy birds most of the time.  The two older girls Moohko and Slindile are so interested in me and everything about me.  They want to practice their Sehooa plus, I think they are genuinely curious about all things American.  They both speak pretty good Sehooa but have agreed to let me speak Sesotho to them and they can reply and correct me in Sehooa.  Last evening the 3 of us walked all around the neighborhood which consists mostly of the Convent and the people who work for the Convent.  There are also 3 major primary schools within my neighborhood.  Right now the kids just finished writing their exams and have time off.  I think this place will be much livelier once school is back in session.

Another revelation is that Sr. J agreed to start the building process before Ntate George can get going by finding local sand and having it hauled to the site.  Ntate George has negotiated with a local man to come and start making the cement blocks on site.  We will need to pay a truck, driver and workers to shovel the sand into the truck and to shovel it off of the truck.  The Bishop says we can use his truck (it might be the tiny bakkie he drives around but I hope it is bigger than that!) and Sr. J is talking to people about where we can obtain the sand.

I can start paying out of my pocket to get this process rolling even before the $$ transfers to our bank account.  Sr. J, the Bishop and I all agree that my time here is short and we better get going ASAP.

In Lesotho Again!

There is so much to tell I don’t know where to start.  I arrived safely in Lesotho on July 3 and found a ride to Mohale’s Hoek which is about 1.5 hours south of the airport.  There was some difficulty finding St. Camillus Center…because, really the Center doesn’t exist as a building….yet.  Sister Juliana, the catholic nun who organizes everything is pretty much a one woman show with support from Bishop Sabastian Khoarai.  Until recently she was able to find homes for the orphans that showed up at the convent.

I am staying at a house that has been used in the past for volunteers on the fringe of St. Elizabeth’s Convent except I have 12 orphans and a ‘Me caretaker living with me.  It is a very tiny place but we have worked it out pretty well.  I’m going to really learn Sesotho with all these kids!  Sr. Juliana was very apologetic that I had to have roommates but there just isn’t any place else for them right now….which is why I am here, to build a house for them!

The issue with the internet here is that Sr. Juliana has used another sisters internet, and only very occasionally.  That sister is not even here now. She has a small room in this volunteer building that she uses for an office and it has a ancient computer and printer/scanner that is enormous that was evidently donated by some Germans.  When she showed me her computer she truly thought I could get internet on it even though there is no service to it. I think the internet concept has been confusing for her.  I don’t think we can get a direct line of service to this place.  I’ll see if we can work with the Bishop as he has internet there (about a mile away and where we will build the Orphanage).  The Bishop has really been very kind and wonderful to me.  He was worried I was too cold and gave me a beautiful Basotho blanket to wear.  He comes over to check on me or calls Sr. J several times a day to see if we need anything.  He is very elderly but quite sharp of mind.  I have enjoyed him and Sr. J very much.  Both of them speak Sehooa (English).  They really want to help these kids.  I don’t see enthusiasm for the kids in the other sisters and have come to realize that her taking them on is kind of against the grain at the Convent.

She and I have had a lot of quality time together waiting and waiting for different steps to complete a building fund bank account.  Seems you need letters of authority from the Bishop (that was fairly easy to get him to write) and the Chief of Mohale’s Hoek.  The Chief is really the judge here.  There is a long line outside his office as he must give permission, in hand written letters, that he writes while you wait, for everything from selling a cow to opening a new bank account.  Today there was quite a heated debate because a man had sold property to 2 different families….the same property!  That had to be worked out and was tedious.  We waited outside, in the cold with many others for a couple of hours while we could hear them yelling inside.

We actually went through this same process yesterday but was turned down at the bank because I don’t have a proper work permit and all the letters of authority had been written requesting both Sr. J and me to be signers on the account.  When that fell through we had to start over and get new letters. Argggg

Once we got to the bank  again today there was a line and once we were inside with the banker he had to write all the paperwork by hand.  I had forgotten long and tedious everything is in Lesotho.  I’m not complaining, I told Sr. J that this is my only job right now and it’s okay.  She worries that I will be too impatient.  It has given us lots of time to talk and I really enjoy talking to her.  She is such a smart tough character.

She has me driving her bakkie (small Toyota pickup truck) now as she doesn’t like to drive.  I’m doing pretty good with it but it takes practice to remember to stay on the left side of the road.  We are planning to go to Maseru next Tues but I just don’t feel comfortable driving up there so we have hired a guy to drive us.

The weather was pretty nice the first couple days but it was trying to snow and blow today.  My little room is not too cold until the wind blows which it is now so I’m wrapped in my sleeping bag.

I have electricity in my room…one outlet so I juggle what is being charged, my phone, my computer, my camera and also my electric kettle.  The kids area which is the other two rooms doesn’t seem to have lights that work so I don’t know whats up with that.  I’ll see what can be done about that.  We have a small sink and toliet in this area but the kids are not allowed to use it.  They go to the building next door.  I think Sr. J is protecting me from being overwhelmed by the kids.

They are each so cute and have very different stories of why they ended up here.  I’ll write them all down.  There are two girls that are 14 years old that do all the cooking and cleaning of the kids except for the 4 tiny babies.  There is a caretaker for the babies named ‘Me Makatiso.  She seemed a little hostile to me at first but is now turning friendly.   I’ll figure out some way to get photos uploaded of everyone here.

I have found that the only time my modem will work is late at night or very early in the AM.  Now it’s after midnight so I’m going to bed,  Sala ka khotso!

St. Camillus Centre

I am going to Lesotho to volunteer at the St. Camillus Center in Mohale’s Hoek which is in the southern area of Lesotho.  The area is considered the “lowlands”.

St. Camillus Center is a Community Based Organization for Orphaned and Vulnerable Children, Home-Based Care Patients and Caregivers in the Mohale’s Hoek region of Lesotho, Southern Africa. The Center provides a warm, safe, accepting environment for HIV impacted people to meet, socialize, receive counselling and testing, and learn new income-generating skills. We support youth with after-school activities, tuition support, provisions and essentials. The center also works to provide food security by teaching nutrition and agricultural techniques at the household level. We conduct HIV/AIDS education through our youth workshops and Home-Based Care workshops.