Friday, July 26, 2013

Maintaining my manicures!!

I crocheted this little bag to house all my nail stuffs because I can't live on a mountain in a village in the bush of Africa and not do my nails. No way Jose!

  My love for nail polish has been well documented.
  But did you think it was going to stop when I moved to Africa?
  Chile, puhleez!
  I've been trying to maintain my manicures here but Lesotho has not been very good to my tips and talons.
  The air here is super dry because of the high altitude and mountains, and as result, my cuticles, nailbeds and hands have been super dry.
   I've been moisturizing them with everything from shea butter, vaseline, olive oil and body cream. Still, I feel like my hands an nails are desert-like.
   This has not stopped me from doing my fun manicures, though!
   That was one of the things that I was NOT going to give up during my Peace Corps service.
   Here are some of my fave manis I've done here:

I did this manicure for my Peace Corps swearing-in ceremony last year. I tried to recreate the Lesotho flag:

This is a Lion King (or the Lion Thing) inspired manicure:

I bought a small gift bag and tried to recreate its design:

I did this cupcake manicure for my birthday and used real sprinkles:

This manicure was done for a volunteer friend who had taken a gorgeous picture of a Capetownian sunset:

Sometimes, though, I wear naked nails so my nailbeds can breath a little:

But most times, my nails are painted! I did this manicure for Peace Corps Week and it was featured on the Peace Corps Tumbr page:

   So, there ya go! This is one of the many things I do to pass time here and just to make me happy.
   I've also taught the teachers at my school how to give basic manicures and we're doing so to raise money to install a waterpump at our school.
   What's on your nails?

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Dear American Taxpayer, here's what I'm doing with your money...

Dear American Taxpayer,

   Teaching is my first job, but the Peace Corps requires me to have a secondary project/s.
   The project must be sustainable and utilize the skills, resources and commitment of the people I work and live with in my village and at my school.
   The project must also impart Goals 2 and 3 of the Peace Corps which are "to help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the people served," and "to help promote a better understanding of other people on the part of Americans," respectively.
   So, since I'm here on your dime, you better believe I won't waste it.
   My students have participated and placed in a national writing contest and written their pen pals in America. I also tutor them after school.
   Here's what else I'm doing here:

I started an English club that has over 100 students in it:

We play word and sentence games every Wednesday. My hope is that the club will help improve their English writing and speaking skills.

And my baby is a farily successful craft project I started in April:

Every Tuesday and Thursday, I teach the teachers how to make jewelry. (They've been teaching me how to knit.) We sell our handicrafts and hope to install a much-needed water pump at our school with our sales. The water pump will cost about $2,000 and we've raised about $200 so far. We have a looooong way to go but we're keeping out spirits up!
I have a very busy and full life here, and am working very hard on my secondary projects.
My days are long but I see that my hard work is paying off.
The last thing I'd want to do is waste your hard-earned money--and mine!



Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Basotho Bits: Cultural facts about Lesotho

   Can't lie.
   When I first saw the word "Lesotho" printed on my Peace Corps Invitation letter last year, I had to Google the place.
   "The hell is a Lee-soh-tho?" I thought. Had never heard of the country.
   Since I've been here, though, I've learned many things about "The Mountain Kingdom in the Sky."
   Briefly, Lesotho (pronounced Le-soo-too) has about 1.8 million people. It's a gorgeous country full of humble and welcoming folks.
   About 40 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. And the country has the negative distinction of having the third highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in the world. About 23 percent of the people here have the disease.
   That said, there's lots of beauty and interesting cultural tidbits here. For example:

The bo-'m'e (women) carry babies on their backs:

And the women carry stuff on their heads:

I will always be impressed with this. I tried to do it but my neck almost broke!

The Basotho are known for their beautiful blankets that they wear year round:

The women wear blankets around their hips to warm their ovaries.

Horses are a common form of transportation here, especially in rural areas with unpaved roads:

Donkeys are also a form of transportation. Many people use them as pack mules to transport huge bags of maize meal:

Women climb the mountains and hills in heels:

This is my 74-year-old host mother climbing the mountain to our village. In heels. HEELS!!! I can barely do this in hiking boots!! LOL!

Anytime a parent dies, the family gets together for a feast called khutsoana, which means orphan:

The orphans (young and old) must have their hair shaved. If not, they'll have bad luck.

Bana (children) at my school play morabaraba, a traditional Basotho game played mainly by bo-ntate (men):

These are just a few things I've learned about Basotho culture in my nine months here.
Very interesting. And intriguing.
What do you think? What say you?