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50 Chickens! Likhoho li teng!

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

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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Lesotho Tourism – The way forward for sustainable economic freedom

Lesotho Tourism – The way forward for sustainable economic freedom

    Lesotho is a land of contrasts
  • High unemployment
  • Many people live on less than  a $1 a day
  • More than 30% of the Adult population has HIV
  • A lack of development and natural resource’s

And yet it is a country with a unique beauty unlike any other!

  • Pristine natural environment
  • unpolluted mountains and streams
  • Friendly Basotho people  who enjoy a  simple subsistence living
  • Wide open spaces and a complete absence of over development

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Our Ha Mali Community Center

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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Journal Excerpt from Sept. 1

Journal Excerpt from Sept. 1

Juliana Fulton - American Lesotho Peace corps[An excerpt from my journal for these past couple weeks]

Well I’ve been super busy, with 2-4 things to do every day for these past couple weeks. Today I had a meeting about the community centre in the morning (and building a seed bed) and two life skills classes at different schools this afternoon.

The community centre is really coming along. We’ve dug beds for 10 plots, 19 out of the 30 orphans showed up last Saturday and worked so hard, digging the stiff, weedy soil. It just looks like mounds of dirt, but I’m proud of the kids. I wonder what motivates them. It’s nice to think they’re invested in this project, growing food. We’re planning on planting the seeds this Saturday. The cabbage seeds are already in the seed bed. Regular watering is going to be a challenge. And we’ll see it the schedule to fix up the building this week actually holds. Next week we’re getting the gardening tools. It will be nice not having to borrow and carry them around (my shoulders are soar from carrying all those spades yesterday).

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What 24% HIV+ Really Means

What 24% HIV+ Really Means

Juliana Fulton - American Lesotho Peace corps

When I first signed up for my Peace Corps assignment, all that I was told was that I’d be in Lesotho, working with communities on HIV/AIDS. I was very excited about living in Lesotho, but less so about working on the AIDS pandemic. It just seemed like such a monumental and depressing task. We were told that the official prevalence rate was 24% of people in Lesotho were infected with HIV. It sounds like a lot, but it is totally different to be in the middle of it, to see all the sickness and death. It’s everywhere and it effects everyone. It has decimated such a friendly, loving people. After being here for a year and seeing its terrible pervasive effects, I wouldn’t want to focus on anything else. Even though the average family has 3-4 children, there is still negative population growth, it’s that bad.

In my village there aren’t really any good figures on how many people are infected. There is a lot of stigma and prejudice about being HIV positive, so most people won’t talk about it (which is a big part of the problem). But in my village of 204 families, there are 85 children who have lost one parent, and 33 children who have lost both parents and are still in primary/elementary school.Besides teaching about HIV in the schools, I am helping to start a community center in my village with funding from the Maliba Comunity Development Trust.

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Village Life – from the point of view of an American Peace Corps Volunteer

Village Life – from the point of view of an American Peace Corps Volunteer

Juliana Fulton - American Peace CorpsI’m a 23 year-old university grad student from suburban America, who has come to live in a rural village in Lesotho, southern Africa for the next two years.  I’m often asked why I became a Peace Corps volunteer, giving up the comforts of home, flush toilets and electricity, and good salaried jobs, to come live in developing Africa.  I still find it hard to explain, I’m here to help people who haven’t had the advantages that I’ve had.  I’m here for the adventure, to experience the real world outside of my sheltered American college town.  I’m also here because I want to work in international development and believe that living in a community in a developing country was the best way to really understand them.  Most Peace Corps volunteers go to their sites with lofty goals, hoping to make a big difference, to build a community centre or help stop the spread of a disease.  My aspirations are much simpler, to make small improvements in the lives of the people around me.  I’ve been in Lesotho for three months, and they’ve already changed mine.

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