Saturday, March 29, 2014

Take a Stroll Through My Village!

  I love my village for its natural beauty and splendor!
   I love my village.
   It's beautiful and lush and teeming with full aloe plants, hearty peach trees and picturesque mountains and hills. I walk around the village daily to admire its natural splendor. During the summertime, the village is greener than Emerald City.
   Here are some visuals:

I take this pathway when I go on my daily evening walks. 
Rainstorms create these natural water runoffs around my village. 

   A beauty, isn't she? 
   I love nature and always find beauty in peace in it. It's safe to say that my spiritual views are deeply rooted in nature. After all, we're able to breath because of trees and plants, right?
   Here, in my village, I think I've found heaven.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Welcome to Club Jiggetts!!!

   It's a Friday or Saturday night.
   The DJ is on the ones and twos.
   Bass is bumping.
   Party's pumping.
   Jiggy's jumping.
   I'm in the cluuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuub!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
   Kind of.
   There are no clubs out here in the village, unless you enter my little hut on the weekends when I have dance parties. With myself. Yeah!
   These South African house music songs are always on my playlist:

DJ Ganyani's "Xibugu"

My owning a BlackBerry makes me like this song even more!

Heavy K Point featuring Mpumi's "Wena"

This is my fave South African house song. When I hear it, I tear up the dance floor!

Black Motion featuring Dr. Malinga's "Father to Be"

This is another goody!

Mafikizolo featuring Uhuru's "Khona"

This song will also get me up out of my seat.

   Of course I don't know what they're saying in theses songs but I love the beats, rhythms and melodies.
   And the village bars and the one or two clubs in the capital city will also play these popular tunes.
   Problem is that I don't go to those places for safety reasons. It is not seen as a good thing for women to go to bars because people think they cause trouble. And I'm not allowed to stay overnight in the capital city unless otherwise approved by Peace Corps staff here.
   So every weekend, I hit up what I like to call Club Jiggetts in the safety of my hut.
   It's free, I'm the DJ and I'm the No. 1 dancer.
   Club Jiggetts is in the house. Literally.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Basotho and Their Hats

 This is the traditional Basotho hat, the mokhorotlo. It's shaped like a mountain, for which the country is known for.

   The Basotho are hat people. They wear some of the most stylish and quirky hats I've ever seen!
   Case in point, this villager is wearing a wizard-like hat: 
He looked like he just stepped off the set of The Hobbit, right? LOL.
And I saw this dome piece at a craft festival a while back:

This guy was the star of the crowd. People couldn't stop staring at his hat. Neither could I!

Here are other hats worn by the Basotho. They'll sell for the equivalent of $5-$10 US dollars:

The Sesotho word for hat is katiba (kah-tee-bah). Oh, and by the way, I love straw hats.

   It wasn't until I moved to Africa that I really, really appreciated a good hat. 
   I always thought that my head was too big for them, so I rarely bought and wore them in America. Unless it was winter. 

This used to be my favorite hat:

Then I cut the dreds and the hat didn't fit me anymore. It's hanging on the wall in my house.

This is currently my favorite hat:

It's made out of plastic bags by a group of women affected by HIV/AIDS. Two Peace Corps Volunteers are working with the group, Mountains of Hope. Their website is

   In this country, hats are a mainstay on my dome, and the heads of the Basotho! Which hat was your favorite? And are you a hat person, too?

Monday, March 10, 2014

A Poem for Tsoaing Primary School (World Wise Post)

My students at Tsoaing Primary School are a very lively bunch. They always want their pictures to be taken!

This blog post is part of a series of activities that I'm doing for the Peace Corps' World Wise program. The program links Basotho and American schools through various activities such as blogs like this one and friendly letters.

Hi kids! I hope you're doing well! Thought I'd share a poem I wrote about my school:

Tsoaing Primary School

Tsoaing Primary is a great school.
Students and teachers are so cool.
We write,
We sing,
We grow,
We pray.
We learn every single day!

Here are a few more tidbits about Tsoaing Primary School:

-Our students wear uniforms that include black sweaters, white shirts, black dresses and gray pants.

-Our teachers wear black and white because those are our school colors.

-Women teachers are called "madams."

-Men teachers are called "sirs."

-There are 15 teachers on staff.

Kids, can you write a poem about your school? If you can, please post it in the comments section.
   Is there anything more specific you'd like to know about Tsoaing Primary School or Lesotho?    Please let me know. I'd be happy to answer your questions.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

How the Children Here Help Me

My 4 year-old host brother, Katleho, helps me carry freshly pumped water to my host mother's house.

   I had just received the care package of a lifetime from my big brother in America. The box was the size of a 27-inch TV. I was excited and couldn't wait to open it. There was just one problem though: how in thee hell was I going to get this box up the small mountain I live on?
   Like a true African woman, I tried to carry the box on top of my head but I couldn't lift it past my shoulders.
   When women in the village glimpsed at my futile attempts to lift the box, they stopped me. Perhaps they were embarrassed for me? LOL.
   They suggested something better: ask the children. I did and a boy delivered the box to my house later that evening.
   It's no surprise that a child came to my aid in my time of need. It's an everyday occurrence here, and I have come to depend on the kids more than the adults.
   Heck, now I understand why the adults have billions of babies: for support.
   Sure, the big people help me with the big things. My host mother helps me to navigate the country's transport system. And my co-workers always know where the best deals are in town.
   But it's the children who color my life and really get me through my everyday survival in Lesotho. The truth is that I need them more than they need me.
   Take school, for example.
   My students get my lunch, help me pass out papers and most importantly, constantly teach me Sesotho.
   Once, there were a few students who were play fighting in the classroom during lunchtime.
   "Stop fighting!" I screamed in English.
   The battle ensued.
   I asked a few students for the Sesotho translation.
   "Ska loana ntoa!" they replied.
   They quickly scrambled the phrase on the chalkboard for me to see. Afterward, I screamed it.
   The fight stopped, partly (I think) because my students get surprised anytime they hear me utter anything other than a basic Sesotho phrase. But they did stop fighting and I got the assistance I needed.
   That childly help also extends to the home I share with my host siblings who are 4, 9 and 14.
   My 14-year-old host sister, Rethabile, acts as my personal tour guide when she's not away at school. She takes me down paths and roads in the village I never knew existed. She also pumps my water when I'm too lazy or tired to do so.
   When I need to burn my trash, I call on 9-year-old Tsepiso. It's not uncommon for the kids here to light fires. You'd think that I would've learned this life skill in summer camp, but either I wasn't paying attention, or I wasn't paying attention. Not to worry because "Teppy," as I affectionately call him, takes care of this pyro problem for me.
   And don't think that the 4-year-old, Katleho, doesn't contribute to my life. When I send him to the store to buy airtime, he jets down the path like he's running for Olympic gold. And when it's time for me to sweep my house, he'll quickly grab my pink hand broom and dustpan and get to work.
   "Help!" he'll say in Sesotho. "I want to help you!"

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Help Us Get a Water pump!

 One of my students is making beads out of clay from a nearby mountain for the school's craft project.

   Many of you know that one of my side activities is an income-generating craft project that I initiated with teachers and students at my school.
   We've made beads and jewelry out of candy in the village, clay from a nearby mountain, magazine paper, and the country's national fabric. Check out our Facebook page here.
   We're hoping to use profits to install a much-needed water pump for our learners, who get their water from "dams" like this: 

And this:

They also hike about a mile up a nearby mountain to get their water from the springs:

   The water pump will cost us nearly $2,000 US dollars. We've raised the required $500 through sales. But we need your help.
   Please donate to our cause by visiting this link on the Peace Corps' website. And please share it. Spread the word.
   Your donation is tax-deductible. Thank you so much!!!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


   Short post today. Just wanted to post the sheer beauty that is this Lupita Nyong'o's Oscar winning speech.
   "No matter where you're from, your dreams are valid."
   I love it!!! 

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Basotho Gender Roles and Cultural Norms

I saw this boy walking home in village one night. It is rare to see a male carrying a baby on his back. This is a job usually done by women.

  Before I moved to my permanent site, I received lots of training about gender roles in Basotho culture.
   "This is a very patriarchal society," my bosses told me. "Everything is done for Ntate."
   (Ntate [in-tah-tay] means man or father in Sesotho.)
   In America, women and men can negotiate tasks like laundry, dishes and babysitting.
   Not here.
   The gender roles and societal norms are clearly defined in Lesotho.
   Here are some examples:

-When a woman gets married, her first and last names change and she "belongs" to her husband's house. It is her job (not the man's!) to clean, cook and look after the children. There is NO room for negotiating this.

-It is frowned upon for women to visit public bars to drink or even buy alcohol because Basotho believe that bars are no places for women. They're too dangerous, they say. When I lived in my training village, I'd send an abuti (young boy) to the bar to buy me a drink in order to prevent trouble. Now, I just get my joala (beer) from the liquor store in town, or the capital. I drink in the privacy of my own home.

-Young girls are taught how to cook, clean and care for baby at a very, very young age because if they don't learn early on, it is said that they won't be good wives and mothers.

-If you're not married with children by the time you're around 20-ish, you're a loser. Seriously. Very few Basotho wait to marry and have children. You just, like, have to put a ring on it and pop out babies. Or else. Single women can't attend traditional dances and concerts performed in the village.

-Polygamy is legal here because the country's founder, King Moshoeshoe I, had 127 wives. I don't date here. Men are blatant serial daters and it's culturally acceptable for them to be aggressive and abrasive with their dating. For example, a man can be dating (and having sex with) five women at the same time. The women will all know about each other. But the man is trying to figure out which woman will be the best lover, cook and cleaner.

    So this is what it is here. This is Basotho culture.
   I don't want to come across as an arrogant American but the roles here are so clearly defined that I just can't comprehend some of them.
   I'm not man-bashing but I do believe in the equal treatment of the sexes.
   It's very difficult to live in an extremely patriarchal society but sometimes you have to respect the way that things are.
   I do see glimmers of hope, though.
   Lesotho has a high number of women in the Parliament, and also a high number of women who make up the workforce.
  And at home, my host mother makes my 10-year-old host brother do housework. He mopes but he mops.
  I also teach gender equality in my Life Skills classes.
   "Boys, you can cook and clean," I tell my students.
   "No we can't," they say.
   "Yes you can!" I reply.