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!"


  1. This was such a sweet post and the children are so sweet and adorable. What is the average family size of a Lesotho family? What kind of goodies did your brother send?

    1. Thanks Crystal! I truly love these kids here and work on nurturing my relationshipsd with them. The average family size would probably be around 3-4 children per family, based off of what I've seen in my village and others. And my brother sent everything: candy, snacks, toiletries, school supplies. He always hooks me up!