Published: April 2nd 2010April 2nd 2010
Our Lesotho accommodations
RECAP: A team of 12 Tacoma/Pierce County folks journeyed to Lesotho in February 2010 representing the Global Neighbor Project. To maximize resources, the Global Neighbor Project joined with World Vision’s Sekameng Area Development Project in Lesotho. This comprises 21 villages with a population of 4900.
An Area Development Project is a community-based approach to sustainable solutions helping one child and one community at a time with:Clean Water, Food, Education, Micro- enterprise ,Caregiver supplies, Health Care and community development.
The teams that visited in 2006 & 2008 saw water systems under construction, and seeds being planted in community gardens. They met community members who were being trained as volunteer caregivers to help their neighbors suffering with HIV/AIDS.
The Global Neighbor Project priority is to help the orphaned children struggling to survive in their family homes. Some have been forced to drop out of school to find food, collect water and care for siblings. Because the orphan’s neighbors are poor, often there were no resources to care for them. Our 2010 Vision Team of 12 discovered great progress with sustainable programs providing the basic needs for the 4900 residents of Sekameng ADP - especially the children.
The Global Neighbor Project is helping
Mathabo and Bob Bowen
Mathabo thanks us for visiting and assisting her and her community.
the Sekameng community with their essential needs of safe water, nutritious food, health care, school support, micro-enterprise development and compassionate care for orphans and vulnerable children.
Following our audience with the King, we travel to Ha Kolo. We want to visit one orphan, one village, one school where relational support through child sponsorships is creating a sustainable solution.
We are anxious to see how one particular orphan -- Mathabo -- is faring.
Mathabo knows all too well the sting of abandonment. Her father left when she was a baby. At 11, she took care of her mother until her mother died. She doesn’t remember her father’s face. She now resides in a single room mud brick house with her two older brothers. One is a herdsman in the next village, so he is not home much. Mathabo has received some support from neighbors and both brothers work. The household receives monthly food packages and medical vouchers from World Vision. They have a donkey, sheep, chickens and a small garden. Ma Nyane, a member of the Sekameng community care coalition helps Mathabo with school studies and provides emotional support. Mathabo has a best friend. Both girls want to attend
secondary school and perhaps the university.
As we approach Mathabo's small community, the roadside is lined with children, adults and young men on horseback, all singing and dancing in greeting for our caravan of five vehicles. Some of us get out and walk with them the quarter mile to where a tent has been pitched for a community celebration in our honor. The school children have been practicing skits, songs and dances for a week to present during a community lunch. Mathabo is a bit shy about all of the attention, having the entire community and school turn out in her honor. She takes it in stride, however, and greets us on behalf of her brothers, best friend, caretaker and community. She gives us a tour of her modest home, where we note that the interior walls have a fresh coat of paint. She then dons a new outfit to join other students in a special dance. After lunch, we visit her school. Desks and chalkboards are new, as is the water system. The well is powered by a merry go round. The children ride and the water is pumped. A tall storage tower bears the name of a
Gabby Curry joins the skit as Beth Nordlund observes.
family foundation that paid the cost. After touring the school, the teenage girls in our party break away with the children to teach them Duck Duck Goose Game, how to "High Five" and they in turn learn the Basotho handshake. Our team joins the students in a tree planting along the school property line. The blue gum trees should eventually provide a wind break and shade.
Mathabo is but one of the sponsored children we will meet with on our visit. World Vision certainly gets the funds donated directly to the children.
We depart early for the 65km drive to the Sekameng villages of Ha Mokhasi and Ha Khoro. There is a new water system with a solar pump in Mokhasi serving the community with nine taps. One student tells us she now has time to play after school, since she no longer needs to walk for 30 minutes to reach the well and then carry back a heavy bucket. The water is now protected and clean. We note the improved health of the children since 2008. There is fresh produce growing in the community garden as well as the keyhole plots in individual yards, now
Mosotho Tree Planting
Blue gum trees go into the ground bordering Mosotho Primary School.
that water is available.
We renew acquaintances with the Ha Koro village leaders, school principal and chiefs over lunch. We are ecstatic to learn that Bobo, who had been suffering from HIV AIDS and TB on our previous visit, has recovered enough to work. The anti viral medication, good diet and assistance from a trained volunteer caregiver have made a difference.
We start the day in Maseru at the arts and crafts store. I buy their entire stock of handmade Basotho dolls at $3US each for gifts. We all find handicrafts to take home. Then it's on to Ha Koro for the highlight of our trip -- visiting the sponsored children. We share lunch, gift exchange, songs and prayers. Our family sponors two girls and a boy from three different families. Makai, the boy, is 5 and being raised by his grandmother, as his parents are dead. The two girls live with their mothers and each has a sibling. Maleholono and her mother are proud to present us with wisk brooms and pottery they have made. Our caravan departs the Sekameng Field Office in Ha Koro to visit two families living with full blown HIV AIDS. We
Dean Curry joins Mosotho students in a traditional song and dance.
pray for them and they seem encouraged that someone from so far away cares about them.
We return to Mmelesi Lodge to discover the dining room decorated for Valentine's Day. We enjoy french fries, chicken, cake and Coke Zero along with some green beans and carrots for dinner.
Our agenda is full. We travel back to Sekameng for a interdenominational service a the Anglican Church, followed by meeting with all of the village religious leaders representing five different church communities. They have united to fight HIV AIDS and improve the health of their villages. They present us with traditional tribal blankets before we share lunch. Mathabo is among the lunch guests, having traveled with her community to the church for the Sunday celebration.
We have been asked to visit a small village in turmoil. World Vision has several sponsored children in this particular village, and their assigned case managers tell us about the previous month's tragedy. An 11 year old boy dies of kidney failure. The rumor in the village is that some of the women were practicing witchcraft and put a spell on the boy, causing his kidneys to become those of an animal. The
For the community in Ha Koro, the Anglican Church Food Bank
boys extended family burns the houses of the alleged witches. All of these households have sponsored children, who are now at great risk. The World Vision staff had meet with the village leaders to start a healing and reconciliation process. They believe that a visit from our group would help. We find the community assembled under a large tent waiting for us, though they are clearly divided into two or more factions. The leaders are seated in the tent, with most of the children in front of them. They have set up a long table and chairs for us. Our three pastors encourage and cajole them. We pray with the couple whose child has died. One of our pastors is a former missionary and grew up in Alabama, so his tent revival style stirs the crowd. He admonishes them to "Shut their Mouths" instead of spreading gossip and lies. Pastor Dean from Life Center asks how many of them love Jesus. Everyone raises their hand. So then he tells them he is confused, because Jesus followers don't practice witchcraft but instead pray for deliverance from the demonic. Pastor and World Vision team leader Bob Bowen leads them in a prayer
Gabby Curry in Basotho Garb
Gabby tries on the costume that is part of a traditional skit as she visits the Mokhasi Elementary School Children.
for reconciliation and healing. The community members then ask us for individual prayers. There are 200 of them and only three pastors, so all of us form a line to pray individually with folks. I personally pray with the village chief, who shyly asks for assistance from God to bring peace to his community. It is traditional for the tribal chiefs to open all gatherings with prayer where they extend their protection to the visitors. So I ask him to pray for our safe journey home. He is pleased that I recognize his community stature. I pray with a young couple who seek work to support their children. Then two young men separately tell me they are suffering from HIV AIDS. One of them has severe pain in his spine. I rub my hand down his back as I pray for restored health. He collapses onto my shoulders crying. The interpreter tells me he is saying "Thank you, thank you, for no one will touch me and you have touched me and prayed for me." It is a powerful afternoon. As one of our group says, "It's like being called out with the Fire Brigade. I have never experienced something
Gifts Bring Smiles
We visit some 30 children sponsored by Tacoma and Pierce County families we know. They enjoy gifts, lunch and songs.
like this before."
We depart the village as a thunderstorm hits, pelting us with sheets of rain. The power is out and the generators have kicked in as we return to our lodging for the evening meal. The storm blows through and the stars come out for our last night in Lesotho.
On Monday, our team departs. Five of us will spend three days in the Capetown area, while the rest of the group takes the 20+ hour flight back to Sea Tac via Washington DC.
Capetown is a gorgeous city where the mountains meet the sea. The townships (polite word for slums) are a sharp contrast, however, to the wealthy districts. We travel two hours to a mountain bed and breakfast in the citrus region. We enjoy a quiet evening after some wine and lamb stew at Hebron, the B&B that also has a gourmet cafe. The next morning we tour the citrus packing town and see the daycare that the BV&B proceeds have helped fund in the township. While the parents work in the packing plant, the preschoolers now have a safe place to stay that keeps them from wandering too close to the busy
Chief Shows Garden
Our team sees firsthand the community garden. Global Neighbor Project provided seeds and tools and hoses.
highway or the burning garbage dump at the edge of their township. The owners of Hebron have established a family trust to fund this project, as well as a soccer field and camping experience for kids at risk. After a quick tour of their property, we head down to the fertile wine country. We visit Fairview Winery for tasting and lunch and see the famous goats in the turret that have given their signature wine, Goats Do Roam, its name. (Check it out at Trader Joe's or World Market in WA state. It's a great $10 bottle of red wine). We spend one night in Capetown before flying out for our Johannesburg-WA DC - Sea Tac Journey Home. Our accommodations were at the Protea Fire and Ice Hotel, a very funky establishment with a view of the aerial tram that the guys take while Pat and I check email and enjoy access to hair dryers for the first time in many days. The Hotel lobby has a huge bar with themed bathrooms and seating areas plus a fireplace. The smoking section is glassed off and contains actual coffins for seating and it named the "Coughing Room". The elevators are designed
Water System in Mokhasi
The villagers are anxious to show us their newly completed water system and protected well. The pump is solar powered.
like the aerial tram car and a shark cage respectively. Carpeting on the floors is black with flourescent flames and a volcano theme. The rooms are very modern with contemporary blond and black furnishing and mosaic tile showers. Our room has two window
There are more photos below