Archive for Lesotho Stories

Juliana’s Best Moments of the Past Year in Lesotho

Juliana Fulton - American Lesotho Peace corpsI have not written in a while because I’ve been on a wonderful vacation with my parents around Southern Africa.  So this is a post I’ve been meaning to do for a while, my favourite  moments from the past year, some of the reasons why I have fallen in love with my village and the people.

One of the orphans that lives alone with her 2 younger brothers and very small sister, once came up to my house with some peaches from her fruit tree to give me, very happy to share with me one of the very few things she has.

An especially quiet, lovely afternoon washing clothes in the river with my neighbour women as my dog splashes around in the water. Read more

50 Chickens! Likhoho li teng!

Juliana Fulton - American Lesotho Peace corpsAfter months of delay we finally got our layer chickens. The gardens of the community centre have also really started to grow. The chickens are going to provide eggs for the orphans and needy of the village, along with vegetables from the gardens.

We wanted to have free-range chickens and demonstrate how you can raise chickens without building an expensive concrete building. We built chicken tractors instead, enclosed chicken runs that are portable. After the chickens have eaten all the grubs and weed seeds on one spot we move the tractor/run to another spot and the previous one is fertilized and ready to be planted.

Although the tractors/runs are pretty simple, it’s taken many, many hours to build six, we still have one to go. We got layer chickens from South Africa. The chickens are a couple of months old and have lived in cages their whole lives. They had never seen sun or had the freedom of running around, and apparently don’t know what to do with it. One mme (woman/mother) from the support group that we work with joked that the chickens were like us Americans here, since after four days they are all still clustered in the shaded ends of the runs, apparently afraid of the sun, rain, and not being in a tight pack.

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Ha Mali Community Center Opening

Last week we had the new community center opening, and it was a big success!  After a very busy couple weeks of preparation and postponements, we finally were able to open the center and introduce its current and potential activities to the community.  We had about 200 people of all different ages come to the opening.  We didn’t run out of popcorn or fruit, and the drink mix was a surprisingly big hit and seemed to make up for the fact that there wasn’t any meat, which apparently is standard big event fare.

Kick4Life coaches leading children in a exercise

Kick4Life coaches leading children in a exercise

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A Day trip up Sani Pass by Charles Bruce

I have decided to do a separate entry about this day because it was a completely different experience from our hike in the Drakensberg. We were picked up in the morning (which dawned bright and sunny but eventually became cold and rainy at the top of Sani Pass) by our guide Stuart and set out in a group of 7 people in a well-used Land Rover. The day before we had eavesdropped on the owner of Sani Lodge telling a caller that they could attempt to drive up the Pass in their rental car, but they may end up leaving pieces of their engine behind. There was a reason that the only vehicles that we saw on this road were Land Rovers and Land Cruisers and other such four-wheel drives. A few kilometers past Sani Lodge the road turned into a narrow, rutted, rocky dirt track. Some areas were washed out and as we ascended the pass, it turned into steep switchbacks. Some were so steep that we had to do three-point turns to turn the corner! Apparently in the winter this road becomes an even bigger challenge with black ice and with South African drivers that have made the trip up the Pass to see snow, but have no idea how to drive in it.

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Basotho horse racing in Lesotho

The first thing I notice is the hats. This is not Ascot, so there are no ladies in ostrich feathers, but a ragged crowd of men wearing everything from gumboots and jeans to big patterned blankets. We’re gathered along a track curving through stubbly fields, with a hazy backdrop of blue mountains. It’s a big race day at the Morija cultural festival, so you might expect the headgear of choice to be the Basotho hat, the woven cone traditionally favoured by herders (and adapted as lampshades in tourist lodges). But I can see only one man in a 150-strong crowd wearing a Basotho hat, and I think he’s doing it ironically. It certainly doesn’t match his T-shirt and jeans.

Basotho jockey complete with traditional blanket , cowboy boots & helmet - Photo by Di Jones

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Kea Kula – Donkey Transport!

Juliana Fulton - American Lesotho Peace corpsI recently got some pretty severe blisters on both feet. And while not a serious injury, the blisters were bad enough that I couldn’t really walk, and was reduced to hobbling around painfully. Through my “injuries” I got to see a side of my village that was really beautiful. Word that I was “sick” (the Sesotho word kula applies for skin injuries as well as normal sicknesses) got around the village remarkably fast, everyone I passed asked how I was doing and if my feet were better or cured. It was heartwarming to have so many people concerned about my well-being. The village support group is a group of women in the village that assists orphans, elderly and sick people in the village, and who I have worked a lot with. Two member of the support group came by my house to check on me and see if there was anything they could do to help. My host mother brought me water so I wouldn’t have to carry buckets from the river. She also helped bandage my feet, while it may seem a bit strange and wasn’t really unnecessary, it was truly nice to feel so cared for. It made me feel like a real part of the community, being included in their system of caring for each other. Read more

My Daily Walk through the villages of Lesotho

Juliana Fulton - American Lesotho Peace corpsI have an hour till class. I put down my book, I grab my worn, patched bag, I head out.

Down the slope, passing dry grass and old corn stalks, my shoes turning a brown to match the dirt. I pass a baby goat, chewing sideways, showing its small pink tongue. The wind blows at my skirt and I pass small children calling me. Where am I going, where is the candy, my name over, and over.

At the bottom, I stomp off some dust as I start down the paved road. My shoes crunching the uneven tarred gravel, dodging broken glass and manure scattered on the road. Read more

Our Ha Mali Community Center

Juliana Fulton   We are only a month away from opening the Ha Mali Community Center!  The idea for its creation came from hearing all the different problems facing the families in my village when I went door-to-door for my household survey.  My work at the schools didn’t seem to touch many of the problems the people in my village complained of: not having easy access to a clinic, not having jobs or training for them, the number of orphans living with elderly grandparent and sanitation issues.  What seemed to be needed was a center for outreach and skills training within the village.  World Vision recently built a pre-school, the only communally owned building in my village, and one that fit the outreach/ community center scheme perfectly.  Maliba Lodge’s Community Development Trust was equally enthusiastic about the idea and agreed to help with the funding and applied for another Peace Corps volunteer to help make it a reality.

Lesotho Peace corp volunteers at the Ha Mali Community center Lesotho

Lesotho Peace corp volunteers (Posto, Juliana and Maggie)

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Top 10 places to visit in Lesotho

Although a small country, Lesotho boasts an assortment of fantastic attractions that tourists can visit and discover the history and heritage of both the Basotho people and the Mountain Kingdom.

 

1. Sehlabathebe National Park

Rocks pools at Sehlabathebe National Park Lesotho

Rocks pools at Sehlabathebe National Park, Lesotho

The Sehlabathebe National Park in the south eastern region of Lesotho, although fairly inaccessible (a 4 wheel drive vehicle is required) is definitely well worth the effort. This was the first designated National park in Lesotho. This hidden gem is full of wonderful rock formations unique to this area, massive rock overhangs, small lakes, rock art, rock arches and a beautiful and unique ecosystem of plants, birds and animals.

The Prime Minister of Lesotho at the time, Chief Leabua Jonathan, loved trout fishing and, since the dams and rivers are a fisherman’s paradise, this may explain the park’s existence.

The Ts’ehlanyane National Park and Bokong Nature Reserves are both far more accessible and well worth a visit in their own right. Read more

The Bearded Vulture of Lesotho

Adult Lammergeyer head detail

Common Names:

Bearded Vulture, Lamb Vulture, Lammergeier, Lammergeyer or Lammergeir.

The name of the Lammergeier originates from German, in which language it means “lamb-vulture.” This raptor will often drop bones from a great height in order to crack them open and gain access the bone marrow inside – hence its old name of Ossifrage (or Bone Crusher). Read more

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