Thursday, April 27
I have missed a couple days of the blog. In the last few days I met with SOS Children’s village, who have same struggles as us, want to discuss a partnership, fundraising together, support one another. We went to Rotary Club, discussed the Global Grant, the successes and the needs for the future. A Rotary member wanted to take us to the cultural show he had created, so went for a visit to see historical artifacts of Lesotho and clothing.
I received my Basotho dress today, we need to do some alterations but they were so proud and so happy about the dress. It is beautiful! I went to the nun’s convent as well to chat and catch up. One is 87yrs old, she has broken her leg, was in cast for 5 months. One of the nuns I met last year has passed away, same month and year as her sister, she had to decide if she would go to her “spiritual sister” or mother’s child funeral. We also talked about politics, Donald Trump, kings, chiefs and parliament.
We then had a great meeting with a phenomenal organization called SolidarMed. They work in many African countries, Lesotho being one, where they support medical needs through multiple critical mobile health units.
For the evening, we went to Samuel’s house for dinner and had a fantastic meal. It was so nice sitting with family, and getting to enjoy little Bohale. She is now walking!! It was a great day. We listened to a South African soccer game on the radio on the way home.
Tonight I was thinking about my dad as I look up in the sky. He taught us how to find the constellations and if we were every lost, to follow the North Star. I think he would love the Lesotho stars. It makes me feel so far from him and my family knowing that I even have a different set of starts to look at night.
Today I woke up to no water again, so I went out to the tank and collected some buckets of water. I got ready and Ntate picked me up to go to ‘Me Matsepo and Pastor James’ house. We arrived to a very warm greeting, and a beautiful garden full of succulents and lovely flowers. I adore succulents. Inside the house was warm and inviting, with more plants throughout the home as well.
We began upstairs in the office to do some training for Quicken software, bookkeeping records and reports. We tried to put the new Quicken on ‘Me’s new computer but unfortunately we could not. We spent some time trying to figure it out and eventually decided to bring it to the computer shop. We then went through how to create a report for all of the expenses and revenue that comes in to AFMSDD through Bracelet of Hope, fundraising, government grants, or the income generating activities. We went through some basic excel training, some good formulas to use and created a template we all felt would be the best to track on a month to month basis.
We discussed some of the hardships in business such as a difficulty to even be on the internet. In Lesotho, Vodacom has monopoly with one other company over all of the phone and data in the country. It can be expensive to even use a small amount of data, so if you do not know exactly what you need right away, it can be troubling, as your data can run out quickly. Pastor James explained that sometimes small issues like this can lead to bigger problems in Lesotho.
We spent quite some time doing bookkeeping and record training until our bellies were grumbling and we decided to have some lunch. We had delicious rice, vegetables, pumpkin and chicken. We discussed pies in Canada, especially pumpkin pie, and the magic mixture that is cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves. We talked about the cold Canadian winter, and deceiving the sun can be in Canada at times in the winter. When the sun is out in Lesotho, you can know you will find warmth, but in Canada, we can have sunny days at -20 degrees! We had a wonderful discussion about things we loved about our countries and talked about how funny Ntaoleng, Justice and other children in the homes were.
It was approaching the later afternoon so we headed out to Tlhakuli. I believe this is the most beautiful foster home of all. The home is on the way up the mountains and overlooks such beautiful scenery. We drove down some very rocky terrain, and it reminded me of when I was in Kenya, and our driver Boniface used to say that off-roading were better roads than the roads. As we drove towards the home, we saw children on their way home from school and the screamed and laughed as the Lekhooa took photos! One of the children was so excited that he ran alongside the car as we drove away! It was adorable.
We continued to drive along until we reached the bottom of the hill where Tlhakuli home is. We then climbed up the side of the mountain for about 5-10minutes. When we reached the top, ‘Me was waiting for us, as was one of the boys. The other boys were down playing near a pond. ‘Me called for them and they call came up. We began playing with the skipping rope, balloons and bubbles, as at the other homes. I also brought some small cars for the boys to play with, and they attached their balloons to the back of the toy cars.
I then went to interview the Foster Mother, ‘Me. One thing that struck me was that she is a foster mother of four boys. I asked her what it was like to only have boys, and she said she does miss having girls around, as they tend to help more, but one of the little boys, Sello, is extremely helpful. He loves to cook. She said that he will peel and chop the vegetables, help cook the dinners and clean up afterwards. He has even begun to start dinners without her. She said she wants to raise strong, helpful boys that will become wonderful men. She is doing a good job of that.
After the interview ‘Me showed me her gardens and where her kitchen was. There is no electricity at Thlakuli so they must do everything by fire and candlelight, including homework. The boy showed me their progress reports and they were all doing either “well”, “good” or “very good”. I told them they should be proud.
We continued to play for some time until it was time to leave. I then told them I would see them at church and made my way down the mountain.
We returned to Pastor James & ‘Me Matsepo’s house for a lovely dinner. We sat down with the two of them, Samuel, Ntate Machefo and ‘Me Puseletso and the girls ate in the living room. We enjoyed some spaghetti noodles with vegetables, beef and to my absolute joy – a fresh green salad from their garden of lettuce, cucumber and tomato! I have not had much salad since I’ve been here so it was so lovely to have. We chatted for some time, and enjoy the company.
I had a cup of tea and had a Skype call with our Board Chair, John. He told me that he had escorted the Prime Minister, our MP and Mayor around Linamar and got to tell them about Bracelet of Hope as well! What an opportunity!
Today I also learned a new Sesotho word- Mochochonono – which means a shooting star. I think it’s my new favourite word. Say it- Mo- cho- cho- no- no. See? Wasn’t that fun!
After dinner Pastor James and ‘Me Matsepo drove me home and we talked about snakes and lizards and childhood pastimes. It has been wonderful getting time with them to get to know them and spend some family time. It’s difficult to travel alone because you end up eating a lot of your meals by yourself. It’s quite amazing how much a dinner with a family can fill up your soul, along with your belly.
After they dropped me off I boiled some water to wash my dishes, and had a nice chat with my mom. It’s great to be able to talk to her from here, she is one of the most positive and encouraging people you would ever meet, and she’s always trying to think of ways she can further help people. We had a great chat and I told her I needed to go, as I was going to wash my hair.
This may sound silly, but I had been putting it off as the water in the taps is not working, so I washed my hair in buckets tonight. I boiled water and mixed it with cool water and washed my hair in the bucket! It was great to get a clean head of hair finally! Look out curls, here they come!
I listened to some NPR podcasts and decided to read before bed. My time here is coming to an end, and as much as I miss my family at home, I have a family here as well; the foster mothers, support workers, Samuel and the Mpakanyane family, Pastor James and ‘Me Matsepo, ‘Me Mahlompho and Andy, the wonderful people I have met along the way, and of course, the babies. If I could scoop all of them up and put them in my suitcase they’d be home by Wednesday with me.
People often ask me if it’s hard for me not to want to adopt them all. On one hand, yes of course, these are remarkably strong, funny, beautiful babies here, but on the other hand, no. I get to see that the foster homes here are providing these children a better life. They have a family, a mother, friends, schoolmates, a life here. They get to live under the beautiful Lesotho sun, amongst the mountains that touch the sky, with some of the greatest people I have ever known. So, my answer is yes, it’s hard to say goodbye, but I leave with a full heart knowing that these children are succeeding, they are happy and most importantly, they are loved.
Tomorrow I am going to visit the last foster home. It is truly bittersweet. I miss my husband but don’t want to leave my Basotho family.
To me, they are all “Mochochonono”.