Aid for AIDS
Trip Start Jan 20, 2004
187Trip End Ongoing
Since my arrival in Lesotho, I have met very few people who are not directly affected by or involved with HIV and AIDS in one form or another. I’ve spent time with NGOs whose main focus it is to educate the population about how to combat this terrible monster. I’ve observed the many testing facilities where people are first made aware of their status. I’ve visited HIV clinics where, after sometimes walking great distances, people wait for hours to receive their anti-retroviral drugs
But this wasn’t meant to be an entry on the effects of AIDS in Lesotho - that will come later. I simply wanted to let you know how and why I found myself volunteering to work with orphans and orphanages. Some of you know that I came to Lesotho prepared to become involved in vegetable gardening - both for consumption by orphans and disabled children, as well as for income generating purposes. Having previously worked in Africa, I was quite prepared for a complete change in plans on arrival, so was not disappointed to find the designated gardens were for the most part already planted.
I decided just to go with the flow, and already have more opportunities than I can comfortably manage. I’m going to have to practice saying “NO”, especially since I’m anxious to do further travel around this magnificent country
So what exactly is it that I’m doing? Twice a week I’m spending time with a group of orphans - reading books, colouring, playing games, and attempting to keep their minds active. With great intentions, I hopped the minibus into nearby Leribe to purchase a few appropriate materials. Never was such a seemingly simple task so baffling - how was I to know that the last package of crayons had just sold out, or that coloured paper was not available, or that the only jigsaw puzzles on the shelf were “so American”. It really didn’t matter - like a vacuum cleaner, the children “sucked up” whatever I managed to chance upon. And speaking of active minds, my Sudoku stash is rapidly dwindling, so I’ll soon have to worry about the rapid deterioration of my own brain!
Two minibuses away in Maputsoe, the director of Rachel’s Children Home has asked me to assist her in improving the orphanage administration, in order that she might apply for external funding. What do I know about orphanage admin? Absolutely nothing, but I have managed a couple of small businesses in Canada, and after visiting the orphanage I was immediately able to jot down a two-page list of possible improvements. So if Hilda is open to constructive criticism, I’m definitely willing to give it a try
Facilitating an exchange of village support group women working relentlessly with AIDS patients and orphans is a third activity that I have committed to. Although challenging, this proposed training has the potential to be extremely beneficial and exciting. More details in due course!
Living in a rondavel with nothing but a bed and a bucket of water (no shower, and just an outdoor loo), was what I had expected before I arrived. Wimp that I am though, I’ve opted for a very comfortable guesthouse with electricity and my own bathroom. The orphanage is a hilly, one hour walk away, so at least there’s no need to pay for an exercise program. The problem is, I’ve become quite addicted to the starchy papa, and I also love fat cakes.......don’t even ask, but they definitely do stick to the ribs!!
So many exciting things have happened lately, but I’ll leave them for the next entry. I must say however, that I expected the earth to stop turning this week - I bought my first ever cell phone. I resisted as long as possible, but one simply can not communicate in this country without a cell. Now if only I could learn how to use it!!