Monday, January 16, 2006

August 13th 2002

Hi everyone

Things have been quite different here. Training is coming to an end and I have now been able to come back to stay with the nuns after having finished my fourth week in village living. So here is something. How long do you think Spring lasts here in Africa? Well it apparently lasts two weeks.

hehe. No I am seriously in two weeks we went from to the 30's and 40's of winter to the 80's of summer. I obviously haven't yet well adjusted but am glad to not so cold anymore. So all of you in Oklahoma thinking how hot it is it is now for me still not as hot as it is for you but seems really hot just coming out of winter.

Village life was kind of neat. You all know that I was living with out indoor plumbing, electricity and all that stuff. It was kind of like a four week camping trip. At first it was fun and then it was really bad but finally I just kind of use to it and it felt kind of normal. Knowing that my future sight though is supposed to have electricity, plumbing and maybe even my own personal phone does not make me really upset though. The assignment itself is at Saint Mary's which is a girls vocational school which is in Hlotsa, Leribe which is similar to a state capital. Hlotsa being the capital city and Leribe being one of the ten states in Lesotho. I am also about a twenty minutes taxi ride from a South African city called Ficksburg which basically has lots of the things I have grown accustomed to in America.

The truth is that I am actually not too upset about being released from village life. I feel like I was kept really busy and that I did not know quite how to make it all work. We had Sesotho class daily and then technical sessions in the afternoon and then when coming home I had a lot of visitors. On a slow night I would have about five visitors just dropping by and on a busy night upwards to twenty people could come by. I was actually living a celebrity type life except for all the money and stuff. Really I could not even often times make that walk to the outhouse with out someone wanting to talk to me. Invariably they would end up asking me "who is your mother?" "where do you live" and "what time is it in America?" In two weeks I seriously was asked each of these questions probably at least fifty times.

I am serious. I explained to that over the next couple of years I am probably to be asked "what state I am from and city?" like they would really know the difference between Oklahoma and LA but they still want to know. I will probably be asked these questions hundreds of times by complete strangers and people I know.

I have already been so changed for my experience in Africa, I really feel like I needed this experience to become the person who I am to be. While the human experience differs in Lesotho from the experience in Oklahoma most of the main points still overlap. Although the people here on an evolutionary terms of thinking and living seem to be progressing far behind America. The villages are physically like the Wild Wild west. But peoples ideas and beliefs are a lot like the 40's or 50's in America. It is really letting me get an idea of "what" happened when and the natural progression of things. But this aside I am far from understanding the Basotho way of life and seeing it as a Basotho if I ever will.

The schedule has me staying in the city called Roma with the nuns. Ah yes, no cooking, cleaning, or laundry. You know in America it is a lot easier to do these things. In the village this means first of all these things I need water, and that means either talk someone into getting it for me or taking the bucket down to the pump and getting the water in a bucket.

Laundry by hand is definitely quite a bit more difficult. I won't go into it but it is not quite like in the USA putting the clothes in a machine and pressing a button. Even doing the dishes are so much more difficult. I have to heat up the water wash all the dishes in soapy water. Next dump my water clean the plastic tub I was using and then make another batch of water to rinse the dishes that still have soap on them off. It takes two hours in the morning to get up get dressed, cook and eat breakfast, do the dishes and then do minimal self-hygiene cleaning which is a fancy way of saying "sponge bath" since obviously there is no American style showers or baths. You all should see this thing I am supposed to bath in. It is like a big bucket and some how the expected me to take a bath in it. I tried to get into it one time even with out the water and was having a lot of problems. And even worse was some of the out house stories. I think right now I won't say to much and just leave that topic alone.

On a light note I told everyone they had to leave the house the other day I thought I was telling them because I wanted to do laundry only later did I find out that I told them they had to leave because I wanted to vomit. Oh well :-) that kind of thing is bound to happen when someone is learning a language. I actually have probably said a lot worse than that though.

The picture in the attachment is of some village kids. Like I mentioned over half of the population is under 25 years old hear so there is a large amount of kids many of which do not have parents or have very little parental supervision. But the kids were really nice to me and were often the ones that would help me out or explain things to me as many of them have been learning English in school.

The idea of free public school has just caught on now in Lesotho up until grade seven. Right now they have integrated free school up till third grade but are currently working on a system to work up to the seventh. So in a few years many more of the kids will be able to speak English quite a bit better as English is the official language of the country and of the schools though a small percentage of the people here can speak it fluently.

As it is I love y’all and shall get back to everyone soon. Jeff


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