“Good morning.” The soft spoken, small, ten-year old girl said to me at 5pm. I figured it would be too confusing of a conversation to correct her.
“Good morning,” I replied. I would soon learn she was my new sister, Ausi Sebabatso.
I live on a mission compound in the camptown of Thaba Tseka. There are a few other families here and they have all renamed me many times. I continue to refer to myself as Keneuoe.
We packed the truck full of furniture and things I had collected from a month too long spent in the capitol. I never thought it would, but below is a photo that serves as proof it all fit. We then proceeded to drive through the windy mountain roads to my new home. I breathed in deep, finally. Once we unloaded everything, my organization unambiguously left and I was alone, everything around me unknown and new. My furniture was cluttered into the middle of my circular, badly painted rondeval home. I breathed in deep again. My life that would be the next 23 months was now truly just beginning.
I grabbed eggs from a store nearby. Of course, mid-way through cooking them the tank they had provided me with ran out of gas (real nice). Runny over-easy eggs and bread for dinner it was.. in my cold heatless rondeval. It sounds worse than it was. The euphoria of finally being in my home and ready to begin my work in my new community had not worn off. I hopped into my freshly made queen bed that I had propped up on concrete blocks for height and storage underneath. Lucky for me, this was definitely the most comfortable bed I’ve ever slept in (a big thanks to Momma Carter for the winter sheets in my last care package!) That night, I slept the best I have yet in Lesotho.
This is the beginning. The beginning of days that start out the same..with my outrageously comfortable bed, a cup of tea, some podcast yoga or TED Radio Hour, a latrine stop, and the rest of my morning routine.. to a schedule that I have absolutely no idea what might happen next. In the nearly two weeks I have now lived in Thaba Tseka each day has been entirely different from the one before. I have discovered various local shops with exciting items that I had not expected to see outside of the capitol or larger camp-towns, like Tuna! I have met some students from the nursing school and made friends walking home who work at the immigration offices. I ran to the top of a mountain, talked to boys about fishing, and they pointed out all the small villages tucked into all the valleys around us. They were excited to conquer all of the tall 9,000+ ft. peaks with me someday. I have frustratingly yelled at kids, “Che!” (No!) who continually pester me for sweets and money. I have forgiven myself because they were asking for my care package Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Covered Pretzel Thins. I have met a man from the Morija Museum building a clay pizza oven (YES!) and patio restaurant as a continuation of a semi-new hotel, Motherland, where I have already spent a day or two sitting on their abnormally fast wifi. I have played volleyball, good volleyball on a real court, with a group of college boys. I have met a woman interested in receiving my help to grow the Thaba Tseka Poultry and Farming Cooperative. I have had a major bug infestation that I am still working on fixing. I have painted my house bright “sun yellow” with a new friend and I have been on the radio.
530 On Air
Until now I had never really been in a recording studio before, you know, up close. I walked into the dark room that I had heard voices and music blaring from earlier that day. There was a table, two chairs, a computer, and two microphones. LiAlex (Dee-Alex) adjusted the microphones and volume so naturally and fluidly as he transitioned from his voice back to the music playing. They have started to call me Ausi Kenny at Motjoli. For forty minutes we joked back and forth, switching from English to Sesotho. The program LiAlex was discussing was, “Why People Fight.” We considered relationships, the workplace, misunderstandings, wars, terrorism, and power. At first no one was calling in. I wondered if we had any listeners or I was just talking to a mic in a dark room. Had the Peace Corps really already made me this crazy? The phone started to ring and once it did it didn’t stop for twenty minutes with people wanting to plainly say hi to me, or who wanted to voice their opinions on air and participate in the discussion. Then we played Alicia Keys.
Motjoli FM is a small organization wholly run by volunteers. Motjoli in Sesotho is a bird, the African Pied Wagtail. It is one of the designated community organizations that CCJP has identified for me to work with. The station, only two hundred feet away from my rondy, is pretty easy to pop in and meet the volunteers as they are running their programs. The fifteen of them are young, motivated, and passionate individuals who want to get good information out there and get people talking about things that matter. While some programs are simply to make people laugh, dance, or gossip, they still all serve to bring the community of Thaba Tseka together and make it stronger.
In Lesotho it seems to be all about relationships and if you don’t build those relationships it’s hard to do work. Each day, I am learning something new about my role here. This part of my service is about integration and learning, thus building understanding so that I may approach a new and extremely different culture with humility and respect.
I’ve recently become intrigued by the claim made by Socrates “the unexamined life is not worth living.” Our ability to do this is what separates us, as humans, from other beings. More than ever before I now have a lot of time to think, to read, to talk, and to examine myself. In this blog post the one thing you may remember is my experience at the radio station. Although, that was just forty minutes of the 162,720 minutes I have spent in Lesotho in which most of those have completely made me feel crazy, lost and frustrated, you are valid in remembering those short forty minutes. Those forty minutes were some of the best in my entire life; making everything else completely and totally worth it. I know that with each coming relaxing routinely morning and unique day I will begin to feel more and more myself, more and more at home, in Thaba Tseka.