Tuesday, 2 May 2017

No News is Good News

Wednesday, April 19

Today I woke up in traditional Lesotho style- with a crazy rooster crowing around 4:30am. I had a sip of water, and rolled over thinking I may sleep another 2-3hrs. I slept until 11am, woke up to the birds chirping and no alarm. Now isn’t that how life should be?

I got up, had some peanut butter and bread for breakfast and got ready. I was excited to go out and wander the city of Hlotse again. I missed the bright Lesotho sky, the red dirt and the smells of BBQ meats and maize.

I opened the door and a wave of heat and sunshine hit me. I walked down the stairs and out the front gate, walked down the dirt roads admiring the greenery, the birds, and the sky I have missed so dearly. I cannot express how beautiful the Lesotho sky is. It is touched by tall, large mountains and you will not see a cloud anywhere you look.

I walked past a Vodacom booth and spoke to a little girl who told me that men were mean, women her grandmother’s age were mean and to only speak with children or elders. Her father was laughing so hard and shaking his head. I said have a great day and continued to wander.

I found my way to the bottom of the hill and found the Positively Empowered Artisans and the ladies who create the beads that we use for our Women to Women events. These three ladies are HIV+. They take wooden beads and they delicately roll hand cut fabric over each bead, gluing the fabric down. These beads are used for earrings, necklaces and keychains. Last time I was in Lesotho I spoke to one of the women who has two little girls and she told me because of the ARVs that she is taking, her little girl is not HIV+. They were very excited to see me, and to my excitement, they remembered me as well as “Ntate Andy’s friend”.

After chatting with the lovely ladies and putting in an order for beads, I walked up the hill and who do I see? ‘Mme Makhlompho walking down in a bright pink traditional Basotho dress. We instantly both squealed and ran to one another hugging and laughing. It brought tears to my eyes to see her! ‘Mme is one of the most loving, giving, generous and funny women I have ever met. She is kind, and is always looking to help others. I’m very grateful to have her as a friend.

We talked on the hill for a while, just like old friends catching up, it felt like no time had passed since I had seen her last. We hugged again, planned to do dinner and continued on our own way.

I made it to the Leribe Hotel and sat down for a cold Orange Fanta and water. I connected to the internet and tried to text my husband or email but the only thing that worked was Facebook. I began to message my mom and let her know I was safe and very happy to be here. I know that her and my husband were very worried as they had not heard from me, but she remembered from 2006 when I went to Kenya on my own that “no news, is good news”.

We chatted briefly over Facebook Messenger and I was blown away by how much comfort my mom’s voice gave me. It doesn’t matter how old you are, you always need mom, especially when you are alone.

She connected to my husband and they figured out how to get my phone unlocked as I had forgotten it was a new phone since the last time I was here.

(my adorable parents in the 80's and mom and I doing the 'sparrow face', being goofy)

I then walked back to my place and hoped I would be able to find it. I passed many children on their way home from school smiling and waving hello. Children are always so happy and excited to say hello. I wondered how far these little ones had walked from their school and far they have to walk to get back home. I wandered for about 45 minutes, somewhat lost until I eventually saw the white house and made my way back!

I put my leftovers away, I had a ham and cheese sandwich at the hotel. I chugged some cold water and sat down. Just after sitting I heard a knock on the door and it was Samuel.

Samuel then took me to the Leribe Hotel where we tried once again to get access to the internet and to get my phone unlocked. The only way to do it was to set up a new phone, so I lost my contacts, my photos, my apps, everything. We thought it was working and tried to call and it did work. I got to finally talk to my husband and mom again. It was such a relief. I was so happy to get to talk to them.

We then packed up and drove back to the white house where we sat in the car for about an hour. We discussed the lessons he has learned from being a social worker, from Bracelet of Hope and a phrase he called “Being Western”, which means being professional, punctual and business-like. I laughed and we discussed how in many countries in Africa, there is a different time system than what we use in Canada. Time is flexible. If you say 10am, it may be 10am or 10:30am, or 12pm. There is also a Basotho phrase of “now”, “now, now” and “now, now, now”. Now means sometime in the near future, now now means sometime soon, perhaps in an hour or so, and now now now means right now, this very moment. As we chuckled, we moved on to discussing the Foster Homes, the mothers, his work, the difficulties of having children taken from the homes, and lastly, the passing of little Khotso. I cried and Samuel’s voice broke many times but I could tell he was trying to stay calm.

Khotso in September 2016

The thing about the foster children is that they are not simply children in a home and Samuel is their social worker that checks in on them. Samuel is a trusted guardian for each one of them. When Ithameleng was hit by a car, she was strong and the nurses said she was fine, but then, when Samuel walked into the room she began to cry. When Samuel reached Khotso’s bedside, the same was true. These children trust and love Samuel. So as much as my heart was broken to lose a boy I had known, and whose photos hung on my wall at work and on my fridge at home, this was a child who Samuel saw every week, who hugged him, who cried with him, who he looked to for support. This was a boy who Samuel had to sit by his bedside day after day and watch a vibrant little boy go from his silly little self to a weak boy trying to hang on as he fought for his life, a fight which would eventually come to an end.

After talking for an hour in the car, I made my way back into the apartment. My heart is broken for the children in Lesotho who have lost their mothers, their fathers, their siblings, their friends. These children have been through more hardship and heartbreak than any one person should see in their entire lives. Yet, they are resilient, they are brave and they have hope.  

It gives me hope that places like the foster homes, SOS Children’s Villages, Help Lesotho, World Vision and other non-profits exist in the country to support the 200,000 orphans left behind… but there is still so much to do.

Interested in joining us to support orphans and families in Lesotho?
Visit our website at www.braceletofhope.ca 

Until tomorrow...


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