I hear it almost every day, in almost every village. “I’m asking for sweets”, “I’m asking for money”, or… food, a job, your earrings, boots, bag, etc… It’s called out from the hillsides as I walk along the roadway or it’s something someone says as they walk past me. Over and over, day after day. The first few times I was so concerned and confused, I wanted to help but not to give in an inappropriate manner; also I never have “sweets” and as a volunteer I don’t have money to give. While volunteers live in village and live as much as possible in sync with socio-economic norms, no matter what or how many times we tell people we don’t have these things to give, the expectation is that we do and so the requests keep coming. Read more
Tag Archive for Maggie Day
Inspired by Ska Mirriam’s international award winning cookbook, Cuisine of the Mountain Kingdom, this month is all about the queen of lijo tsa Basotho, (Basotho Food), Corn or Maize as it’s called here. We’re just coming into harvest time and the grain stores of most families are slim to none so it’s wonderful to see people now in the fields starting to harvest. While in January and February it was the standard for people to be carrying peaches and usually eating them at the same time, by March it was time for boiled sweet corn. Yum. Picked while the stalks were still green and the kernel were fat, yellow and sweet. Read more
There is a long history of weaving in Lesotho. At the nearby Leribe Craft Center we found this photo proudly honoring “the pioneers of spinning and weaving in Lesotho” at St. Mary’s Craft School in 1911.
The weaving process starts with collection of fibers from Lesotho’s large herds of sheep and goats. It was news to me that wool comes from sheep and mohair from goats. As this photo collection from Sesotho Designs shows, the coat or fleece is removed once per year, generally after the winter, when the herders bring the animals down from the mountains. Read more
I’m starting to hear voices from the trees again. When I heard it last year I was astonished, now I know it means something wonderful. It’s peach season!
Our area of Lesotho is thick with peach trees. You will find them planted around homes, schools, fields and high up on the hillside grazing areas, aggressive growers from discarded peach pits eaten or planted by herders in years past. Even our family pig enjoys life in the shade of a peach tree and the addition of peaches to its usual diet.
There are two major varieties of local peaches, Tae-pete are small yellow-white peaches which ripen in December & January and Motloha-Tholoana, larger sweeter peaches that ripen to reddish-yellow in February. Now that the February fruits are in full flush the trees seem to be talking almost everywhere, sending out happy greetings, “Lumela Mpho, u phela joang!” (Hi Mpho how are u?) , “…re teng le kae” (Hi, we’re fine how are you?) or most intriguingly speaking with each other, so quickly I can’t translate. Read more
Some time ago I was leaving my house when I heard singing and chanting and saw a row of people coming down the path of a neighbouring hillside. I was told they were a “Girls Initiation School” a Litsoejane (deet sway jah nay). I kept a respectful distance and watched as they joined up and started a series of dances and songs. I had to leave for an important meeting at one of the primary schools so I reluctantly started walking down the hill when I heard the Litsoejane group coming down behind me. Read more
This month our Village Life column is from M’e Mantai Musa. M’e Mantai is the Maliba Trust’s Community Liaison Trainee. She lives in the neighbouring village of Ha Mali and runs the Saturday youth program at the Ha Mali Community Center, co-teachers a Business Education Class for out-of-school individuals and assists with Village Support Groups.
“The Christmas Holiday celebration begins as a homecoming all through December. Many people work or go to school in South Africa or other places but this time of year everyone comes back and it is a happy time as husbands, wives, children and friends are now home together. Read more
And not just the routine risks that come with working with kids who live on the edge from the time they can toddle. I’ve seen children as young as 3 years of age speeding along on the backs of donkeys, bareback. Little ones smashing glass bottles together just because. Sliding down hillsides on jagged pieces of corrugated metal, chasing each other into the edges of whatever sharp thing is around, playing with fire, running with knives, throwing rocks at each other and just generally causing all sorts of bloody injuries in the interest of great fun. Did I mention we have one of the world’s highest incidences of HIV/AIDS? So I bought a box of surgical gloves and am careful, careful when one of the kids comes for help with a cut at the Community Center. Read more
Spring is here. We are no longer just off freezing, in the house and out, from sunset to sunrise. Without electricity the sounds and activities of quotidian village life move with natural light and shortly after sunset peace reigns. Aggressive dogs excluded, of course, darkness is their time. Eventually even the dogs settled down and those winter nights were long, cold and quiet.
After a candle-lit dinner I too would settle, into multi-layers of blankets, wearing multi-layers of clothing plus wool cap, thick socks and even gloves on especially cold nights. After an hour or so of reading by head-lamp I’d enjoy 10 hours of sleep or more each night. Just one more treat of my experience here for someone who was lucky to get 6 hours sleep per night in my “traditional” life. Read more
On the big-picture side The Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) is a massive Government program resulting from a treaty signed in 1986 which was an agreement to sell water from the Lesotho mountain areas to South Africa. Visit their website at http://www.lhwa.org for project details. In addition to financial and hydroelectric power benefits the LHWP has been instrumental in the formation of the beautiful Ts’ehlanyane National Park. From the LHWP website:
One of very enjoyable parts of Peace Corps service is the opportunity to connect students from various countries through the World Wide Schools (WWS) program. As noted in the WWS Match Handbook, “The program is designed to engage students in an inquiry about the world, themselves and others in order to broaden perspectives, promote cultural awareness, appreciate global connections and encourage service”. Through a “pen-pal” exchange that works along with WWS the students learn about places in the world as seen and described by their peers, developing new friendships along the way. Read more