December 31, 2008

Aloe and Cactii

These photos are not really organized:
Photo's taken right outside my training village:
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Just after touching down in Lesotho
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My new dog, Tiger:
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My room for the next two years:
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View from the front door of my new house:
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Lots of exciting stuff:
We had a ton of AIDs/HIV training, because Lesotho has the third highest percentage of AIDs prevalence in the world. There are about 2 million people in the country, and 24% has AIDs, which means that somewhere around 500,000 people in the country have the disease. There is a very strong social stigma regarding AIDs here, to the point that you will never hear about people dying from the disease, instead you will hear dozens of cases of people dying from ?the common cold? or ?a broken finger? etc? anything but this highly stigmatized disease.
At the end of the sessions we were all tested, and the testing here is very different than the United States. They prick your finger and put a drop of blood on this little slip of paper that functions similarly to an American pregnancy test, and then you stare at the paper for 15 minutes and hope that the paper doesn?t change color. I was tested shortly after leaving the states (negative) as a result there was virtually no chance that I was going to test positive, and it was still pretty frightening to sit and stare at this paper. I can only imagine what it?s like for Basotho, who stand essentially a 24% chance of having the disease. There are state-sponsored ARVs, which can treat the disease, but a large portion of the population doesn?t know that they exist and that they actually help. These people believe that knowing their status won?t do them any good, which contributes to the stigma.
Moving on from the HIV talk, I?ve had a very exciting week.
On the 24th, we moved out of our CBT (community based training) village , and had a huge feast as a result. We prepared the day before (peeled a whole lot of vegetables) and had about a hundred people show up, including my CD (country director) Ted, who surprisingly speaks very little Sesotho. My friend Cullen said to one of the trainers, ?Ha Ke Na Matata,? Ted responded, ?That?s not Sesotho?. The nearby Bo-?m?e (married females) corrected him (It sounds just like Ha Ku Na Matata, which you may remember from the Lion King (did I post about this already?) and means ?No worries?. We danced some with some of the crazier townsfolk and sung a bunch and then peaced out to the TC (Training center)
We had a few drinks and something like 20 packages which had just arrived were dropped off. We waited a few hours and opened them on Xmas eve, I got a new pair of shoes from my wonderful girlfriend and some teas and assorted things from my mom which are greatly appreciated.
I slept outside on my travel hammock and it was something like 75 degrees out at night (I believe it was in the 90s otherwise).
Christmas day we cooked all our own meals and we ate really well? ?M?e Mamothe, who is in charge of training, went to South Africa and picked up our grocery list, so we had almost all of the trimmings of home, and there were a boatload of good cooks.
We hung out the next day (boxing day is a holiday here!) and on the 27th departed for our permanent sites.
I showed up at about 3 o?clock at the river (the Senqu river, also known as the orange river) and took a boat across with my stuff (which had to be bailed a little, and was essentially a row-boat with logs with boards attached that served as paddles). I re-met my counterpart (who is essentially in charge of making sure I?m not committing cultural faux pas?) and my ?M?e and my Ntate, who will serve as my host family (along with a few sisters and brothers) . I moved all my stuff in and spent the next few days meeting the community and exploring the area.
I went to church on Sunday for a wedding ceremony. I showed up at 11:40 for an 11 ceremony (my counterpart showed up late). The entire ceremony was conducted in Sesotho, so I understood very little, but the wedding ceremony seemed pretty traditional. That is, until after the I do?s I was told it was time for donations (this was about 12:30). They call for donations in groups (first they?ll announce a school, then another, then a profession, then various church organizations, then just the bo?m?e and bontate). This means that most people go up a few times and every time a group is called they sing a very invigorated 5 minute long song. This took approximately 2 and a half hours. Then they did a wrap up, I was introduced to the community and then we took off for the party. I sat at the table of honor, which initially made me feel weird (I thought it was because I was white) until I realized that one of my sisters (who I had not met yet) was the maid of honor and I think the bride was a cousin. We ate really well (all feasts entail an open invite to the community and lots and lots of food).
I spent the rest of my time in my village, which is called Tebellong, hanging out with my dog, Tiger, my host family and checking the place out. I love the site and I?m very excited to start teaching.
Next post will entail some more specifics about the school and community members, I just haven?t posted in a while, so I?m sorry if this wasn?t very exciting.


1 comment:

the wrong arms said...

glad you liked the shoes.