Lesotho, by the numbers:
40– The temperature (Fahrenheit) when we got to Lesotho. The sun rises around 6:30 and sets around the same time in the evening. Both, the mornings and nights are very cold here, so it’s really hard to get out of bed in the mornings. When the sun goes down, it’s best to be inside. It’s the beginning of winter here so it is really strange that I won’t get to have a summer this year.
19– Volunteers in my group (we had staging with the Uganda group and they had 40 volunteers). I like that we have a smaller group because we can all get to know each other and it’s a lot easier to do group things. We are a very diverse group. Many are from Michigan because that is where, in 1961, JFK first challenged students to volunteer for their country through Peace Corps (PC). Others are from Florida, Utah, New Hampshire, Texas, California, Illinois, Washington state, and, of course, Tennessee. Ages range from 21 to 50+. We come from all walks of life from new college graduates to retired nurse practitioners, some just wanting a change of pace and others hoping to get a career start. My goal is the latter. We are split between three separate villages. There are six volunteers in my village.
18– Hours on a plane for me to get to Lesotho. My first impressions of Lesotho were of the geography and the Basotho people. The Mountain Kingdom of the World deserves it’s name. Lesotho has the highest low point of any other country in the world, meaning that even while in the lowlands, we are still higher than most places in the world. I will use that as my excuse rather than just being out of shape for being out of breathe when walking uphill to class every morning. The Basotho people are great and very welcoming of our PC group.
“Beautiful things don’t ask for attention.” -Secret Life of Walter Mitty
12– Sunsets I’ve gotten to see in this beautiful country so far. The view from my doorstep is spectacular. I love the placement of my room because I have the sun rise in one window and the moon rise in the adjacent window. The start and end of my day is always beautiful. I look out into a valley with a background of gorgeous mountains. The sunsets are like nothing I’ve ever seen. I could sit and watch the orange turn to pink and then to purple and blue every night.
9– Hours per day spent in class. Language class begins at 7:30am. Around 10am, all three villages gather at HUB where we begin our training. We learn various things about the culture, HIV/AIDS in this country, how to survive when we are on our own and the biggest priority for PC, safety and security of its volunteers.
8– The time I’m usually asleep by. It seems to me that life here revolves around the sun. That means waking up with the sun and going to sleep as it sets and gets cold.
6 so far– Shots I’ve gotten since arriving in Lesotho. They are all a series of shots, too, so in the end I will probably have gotten around ten or so.
5– Host siblings I have. My host family consists of three brothers and two sisters. They are very accepting of me and they help me a lot with learning Sesotho (the language) as they always tell me, “Sesotho phela,” meaning speak only Sesotho. I find it hard to believe it’s been a little over a week since we arrived. I’ve learned so much and it feels like it’s been three months. We all got Sesotho names shortly after arriving. My name is Relebohile (Ray-lay-boo-hee-lay), which means ‘Thanks’. That is the only name I am known by here and it certainly adds complexity to the mix. It also adds a sense of acceptance, though. I’m really trying hard to learn the language so that my job here can more effective in the end.
“Never underestimate a small group of committed individuals to change the world. Indeed they are the only ones who ever have” -Margaret Mead.
0– Number of countries I would have rather gone to for my PC service. As I’m getting comfortable, learning to live more simply and independently, and integrating into this new culture, I know that I will enjoy the next 2+ years here. Ke rata Lesotho (I love Lesotho).
With that said, that doesn’t mean that I won’t miss everyone back home. In fact, quite the contrary. I miss many people every night. I finally have a phone here, and I can keep in touch via phone apps: WhatsApp (for text messaging), Viber (for international calls), and Skype (for video calls). If you can, add me on any of these outlets and of course, stay tuned here for more updates. As I am posting this blog from my phone, please excuse any short explanations or typing errors. I will add all my contact info under the ‘About Me’ tab soon.
Khosto (Peace), Pula (Rain), Nala! (Prosperity!) -Lesotho motto
“If you want to plan for a year, sow rice. If you want to plan for a decade, plant trees. But if you want to plan for a lifetime, educate people” -Chinese proverb.