Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

Hello!!!

Today was by far my favorite day while being in Lesotho. It’s hard to believe that each day we are here it continues to get better and better even this close to the end of our journey. I think I can speak for the group when saying everyone felt a wide array of emotions today. We were heading to two different places. We started our morning at the Baylor College of Medicine Children’s Foundation and then spent our afternoon at Kick for Life. Today was the only day that the weather hasn’t been the greatest but that didn’t stop us from accomplishing what we needed to.
We headed to Baylor in the morning to put on a carnival for all of the children there receiving treatment for HIV/AIDS. We wanted to be able to bring different activities for the children, in hopes of them forgetting that they were recieving treatment for a couple of hours. There were temporary tattoos, coloring books and crayons, bubbles, jewlery making, the beloved parachute we all used to play with in gym class, soccer balls, and the polaroid camera Diane (Dr. Rosenberg’s daughter) let me go around with to take pictures with to give to the families.
Since when we were first arrived the weather wasn’t the greatest, kids were a little apprehensive in coming outside but were still watching us through the big glass windows of the waiting room. This is when we decided to head inside to bring a lot of the activities we brought with us to them. I started out going in with handlfuls of the bubble bottles to use and also give to them. Each of the kids were so happy when I started blowing bubbles in front of them but got even more excited when I gave them the bottle to use themselves.
After about 30 minutes or so Dr. Rosenberg told me to break out the camera. He told me to ask the parents/grandparents if they wanted one and told me how for a lot of them this would be one of the only physical pictures they would have of their kid(s). I was a little apprehensive at first on going up to different people asking them if they wanted a picture. Once I took that first polaroid picture and sat with the mom watching the photo develop all nerves dissipated. Her reaction was priceless. I have never seen someone so overwhelmed with happiness over a photo. When I turned around there were so many parents and grandparents calling me over asking for their picture to be taken. Each person after the next was happier and happier. All so grateful and shocked that they were able to keep this photo. As our time went on it became harder and harder to remember that each and everyone of these kids were sick.
Next, we arrived at Kick for Life. Which is an organization allowing boys and girls to be able to play soccer but also reciveve HIV testing and to be apart of their futrue outlook on creating a more sustainable Basotho life. The goal is to educatue them while still allowing them to play the sport that they love.
When we arrived its safe to say we were all shocked when we found out we weren’t playing kids but playing part or the semipro league. We all the realized we were going to get our butts kicked. Thankfully the woman told us we were going to be intermingling on teams of 6. I have never had so much fun exercising before (Don’t worry Betsy I’ll be ready for the gym when I get back). Obviously they were going a little easy on us but we all still had a blast and were able to laugh about looking like fools while playing soccer.
Everyday has been so amazing and I don’t want our time to end here, but I can’t wait to see you family and share all of my wonderful experiences!
Love you so much DDKSSBRMQRS!!!!!

Today I Met a King

Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

Today we met the king of Lesotho.  I never thought that I would ever be able to say that I have met a king, but now I can. We all walked in to the room and sat down into the big black chairs that were lined around the tables. I was shaking because I was so nervous as we sat waiting. Although I was nervous at first, I eventually learned not to be so nervous because the king was very humble and understanding. As Dr. Rosenberg spoke about the projects we are doing here now and the Lesotho Nutrition Initiative he seemed genuinely interested in our projects. The passion he showed in helping his people touched me the most.  Unlike with some American politicians, when he spoke to us I could tell there was not a word he spoke that was not true. He seemed proud of all of the work we are doing, have done, and will be doing and called upon us all to be “ambassadors” of Lesotho and to spread the word of this amazing country.  Dr. Rosenberg pointed out after our meeting with the king that he made a point of inviting us instead of just being scheduled to meet us, and I thought that was cool because I would have thought someone else told him to meet us, but it was his idea. It was the greatest honor to have the opportunity to meet the king of a country that I have learned to love so much in so little time and I’m glad I got to come on this eye opening trip that I almost missed. Thank you to everyone who has made this adventure a possibility for me. I love and miss everyone at home, but I’m also dreading leaving this amazing place. See you all later!

Ariel

June 26

Monday, June 26th, 2017

As the end of our time here becomes more near, it is becoming clear that there is a struggle to keep our minds and hearts in the present. There is talk of what horribly greasy and calorie-filled food we will eat first when we reach home. We all know the names of  our classmates’ pets and partners at home. We talk reminiscciently like soldiers finding comfort in letting others know just a little of our home waiting for us. Even the introduction of wifi has reminded us that this journey was not just a time and financial sacrifice, but also a sacrifice of not being with those we hold most dear. Thanks to every parent that also sacrificed by allowing their children to be so far away. Y’all made this wonderful experience possible.

Despite a touch of homesickness, the Witt group has been staying active while in Lesotho. Today we took about a forty minute drive to visit an orphanage. There, we built the playground in record time, planted fruit trees to help the orphanage become more self sufficient, and painted colorful pictures on the walls of the orphanage. I believe all this work was made possible through the teamwork that has developed among this group.

A couple of us have already been asked by loved ones about how this trip has transformed our lives or we are asked to tell our most heartwarming moment. I think we are realizing that these short questions can only be half addressed by long responses and countless pictures. This trip has been full of sad, happy, and beautiful moments– too many to convey in one sitting. I think some of us are still processing just how this trip has changed us and don’t want to short change the experience we have had or the generous people we have met. While some of the Lesotho people have admitted to having obstacles in their lives, I have yet to witness or hear of a person who did not offer a smile and kind words. I hope that when I get back to the States I can look past my own obstacles and show kindness.

We are all seeing the king tomorrow and are freaking out about what to wear.

Thanks for reading and see you sooner than later,

Kim

p.s.

I love you mom and dad!! Pleas give our puppy a treat and hug for me :)

Kelsey f

Sunday, June 25th, 2017

Parents, friends, and fellow blog readers,

I have the job of catching all of you up on our weekend adventures. Saturday we spent the morning finishing up the shade garden we have been building at the Leratong community center. Although we didnt completely fill up the hole with dirt, we did construct the garden with poles and nets to give the future crops plenty of shade. The second half of the evening was spent in another village but was a little more fun. We made the trip out to Neo’s house. Neo is a fellow Witt student who is originally from Lesotho and has also made this same trip to Lesotho with a previous group. Her parents graciously hosted us and gave us an amazing dinner by a bonfire. A little evening off was just what we needed.
Today was our official day off and we spent the morning on a historic hike. Dr. Rosenberg was our tour guide for the morning and took us up the mountain of Thaba Bosiu. This historic mountain was home to the first grand chief, or King of Lesotho, Moshoeshoe I. He lived there with many of his followers and guarded this mountain through invasions and attacks. The mountain was known as magical and the myth stated that the mountain grew bigger at night because invading forces never could make it up during the night. The myth went further to say that if you took sand from it and put it in a jar that it would disappear the next day. Dr. Rosenberg went on to tell us many other stories about the mountain and you could almost feel the significance that this mountain held. We also saw the houses of Moshoeshoe I and the royal cemetary.
Our afternoon was a nice relaxing afternoon and we’re about to have a nice bonfire. So as much as i would like to continue sharing out experiences with you, I have smores to eat!
Thanks for checking in on us everyday
–Kelsey F.

Alex

Friday, June 23rd, 2017

Our day began with breakfast at 8:00 am and then we headed to the Leratong Community Center to continue working on creating a new shade garden. To complete this, we have to pickaxe a mound of dirt and shovel the dirt into wheelbarrows to transport to the giant pit where the garden will be. We also had to get lots of leaves and shovel manure in the pit. Most days we work from 9:00 am to 12:30 pm and then break for lunch. After lunch, we went back to the community center to play with the kids. I played soccer with a few of the kids while other people had their hair done by many of the Basotho girls. Another group of people played frisbee with the kids. Before we left the community center, everyone participated in a Zumba dance led by one of the older service girls at the community center. After our time at the community center, we came back to the trading post and some people went to see the dinosaur footprint, while others stayed behind. I played soccer with some kids outside the gate of the trading post until dark. Tomorrow we will go back to the community center and hopefully finish spreading and laying dirt. Today we also learned that we will be meeting with the King of Lesotho on Tuesday. We are all extremely excited for that and for the hike on Sunday.

P.S. Mom and dad and Kristen, I hope you guys are doing well and I love you all!

Signing off,

Alex

Elsa

Thursday, June 22nd, 2017

Hello!

Today we started our first full day here in Roma. We are helping build a shade garden at the Leartong Community Center. We started this process today by filling in this hole with dirt and cow manure. We are filling up the hole to the height of the wall that was built because of erosion. After working all morning we were able to go back to the community center and play with the children. Some children that go to this community center are either orphans or other children in need. The one thing I found very interesting today was the games they tought us. Some of the games they taught us were the same as in Ramabanta, but certain parts of it were different. It’s interesting to see that although they’re the same games moving to a new part of Lesotho small parts Of the game can change. After learning some of their games I went and played frisbee outside. While outside playing I started to hear music and of course ran up to see what was happening. They were teaching us this zumba type dance. It was so much fun because I enjoy dancing and learning new dance moves. Iwas so fun to just dance with the kids while they giggled and laughed if we did the dance move wrong or in a funny way. It is very exciting to start to impact more lives here in Lesotho. It was sad to leave Ramabanta, but seeing them playing on the playground we built for them when we left made it easier. One thing that has impacted me the most thus far is the sense of community here. Walking around and waving is always accepted and everyone is excited to meet you and ask the question, “Can I be your friend?”

Ps. Hi mom, I love you!!!

 

Roamed into Roma: a Memoir

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017

Becca and Liz here coming at you live from Roma! After tasting the sweet nector of the Gods (wifi), many of us rushed to call our parents resulting in an overloaded system. So for all of you parents out there who had spotty facetime calls that ended abruptly: this post goes out to you.

We woke up this morning excited with anticipation for the new adventure to come (Roma… refer to title) but we were also sad knowing we were going to leave our Ramabanta family behind. Luckily for us, we were going out with bang.

Once we returned to the work site and knotted off our last swing, the playground was complete (Hopefully you all are up to date with the playground saga and the other bloggers didn’t let you down). Before we allowed some of Ramabanta’s finest 2-12 year olds to swarm the playground, we prepared them a bonus meal. The bonus meals were packed by Wittenberg students through the Lesotho Nutrition Initiative. LNI was created around the mission of sending meal packets to Lesotho every four months in order to feed 50 kids 3 days a week. It was extremely rewarding to see these meals reach their final destination, as we were able to see who we were directly impacting through those packing events.

One may have assumed that the meals would have been completed before the playground was put to use. Guess again folks. These kids were climbing up ladders, bowl in hand. A particular fan favorite, 6 year old Mpho (also known by “shimmey shimmey” ) had a particularly interesting strategy when it came to pulling off this balancing act of sorts. Mpho would take two bites of his meal, hand off his bowl to Becca, run to take two turns down the slide, and return to Becca to repeat this act until his bowl was clean.

We all watched proudly as these kids continued to cycle through the playground and take turns going down the slide. It was heart warming to see how something as simple as a slide could bring so much joy and entertainment to a group of kids. Although it was hard to say goodbye, many of us found comfort looking out of the bus window and seeing those same kids, hours later, still going down that slide. We were happy to leave them with something that recognized their humanity and elated the spirit of childhood.

On our drive to Roma, we were fortunate enough to stop by the house that we had worked on earlier in our stay to see the progress that had been made. With a finished roof and painted walls, the house began to look more like a home for Mae. On the first day that we met Mae, she seemed ashamed to present us with her small house made of aluminum sheet metal. Today, however, she wore a big smile as she finally had a place to be proud of.

With the playground and the house being our last goodbyes to Ramabanta, we feel motivated to continue our work here in Roma. Now that it’s 8:30 pm, it is far past our bedtime so this post must come to an end.

 

signing out,

Liz and Becca (aka Roma Roomies)

 

P.S.

hopefully I will be able to sleep through Becca’s tears as she watches videos on her phone tonight of Mpho dancing

Tuesday, June 20th, 2017

Hey everyone!

Today was our last day working on the playground in Ramabanta! We added the slide, the guard rails, and of course, played with all the children. Atfer we had finished, it was so hard to tell the kids that they had to another day to play on it. We really want the cement to be completely dry and safe so we’re waiting until wednesday for the grand opening. The US ambassador to Lesotho will be joining us tomorrow while we cook meals for the children and officially open the playground.

After leaving the playground, we split up all the donations we had brought, including soccer gear and warm clothing. Part of the donations will be left here in Ramabanta to be distributed throughout the community, and the rest will be brought to Roma.

There was a pretty light workload today so we had free time after sorting all our donations. Some people made it their goal to reach the top of one of the nearby mountains, so they left before lunch (and were succesful!). Other people stayed around the trading post and had a nice, relaxing day. And finally, the group that I was with went on a different hike. We started in the nearby town, made our way across the river- not without difficulty (I actaully ended up throwing my shoes across the river and wading across)- and eventually worked our way to one of the peaks across the valley from the trading post. One of my favorite things abour Lesotho so far is that anyone you see on the street will say hi. For example, we met a shepherd on the mountain, a few ntates on the road, and even a group of little boys that just wanted to walk up the road with us. Finally, we took the same trail back to the trading post that we had used with the horses- and let me tell you, it was a lot less scary  walking on foot.

At our meeting, we discussed being able to say goodbye to all the kids in Sesotho. It’s gonna be hard to leave these kids but we’ve done some great things here in Ramabanta and we’re all really excited for Roma!

Mom and dad, I miss and love you guys so much! Tell Sarah happy early birthday in case I don’t get to call her and give Mindy a big hug from me!

Bekah Kaufman

 

Monday, June 19th, 2017

hello from ramabanta in Lesotho!

Today was day 8 working here in ramabanta and we continued our work building the playground for the kids. The kids are getting so excited and impatient to get to play on it since its so close to being done its getting hard to keep them off of it to let the cement dry well. The kids here never cease to amaze me with how smart they are and how kind and hard working. You cant walk anywhere without a child being right there to want to hold your hand and cant sit down without one wanting to jump in your lap. The boys especially love to jump right in and help us pick axe and make the cement without ever being asked which is crazy to me because i bet if you asked most american middle school boys to help do the manual labor they do they would never agree to it without a serious bribing. Ive never had anyone so excited to see me or smiles so big as on the children here. Today my friend ‘Mpoho (ompo) who is an 8 year old girl who speaks some english and for some reason has taken a liking to me wrote me a little note today and drew a little picture. Unfortunately the note was in sesotho so i didnt know what all it said but had someome tell me and it was the most adorable thing. Her cousin who is always with her and more like a sister to her took me to the outisde of her home so she could bring out pictures of her and ‘Mpoho when they were little to show me and show me her mom. We leave here in two days and i dont know how we can say goodbye to the kids and the special ones we have formed bonds with. everyone here is so friendly and amazing, even the adults since yeterday i was holding a little boy and walking and ran into his mother who just laughed that i was holding her child and let me take him with me even though she had no clue who i was. I love every day in this beautiful country through the happy times and the tough times with some things you experience and see. Dont worry mom and dad im doing great and having an amazing time but i still miss you guys and collin and everyone else tons! My mom had been impatient for me to blog so i hope she likes this one and isnt too worried about me! And dad dont worry im still staying in shape and probably stronger from all my new building and digging experience im getting.

 

Sala Hantle (stay well),

Lauren Buelow ’19

Sunday, June 18th, 2017

A starting note: If you read last nights post Emma would like me to mention that everything she said last night she meant for tonight. That being said happy Father’s Day to all the fathers reading this!

Today we started building the playground for the children who live near our lodging. Although this project may not last forever and won’t change any serious problems for these people, it holds a special place in my heart. There is something about giving a child the ability to smile or even a place to go when life feels hopeless that brings me reassurance in being here. One thing in particular that stood out to me was the willingness of the local children to help us. Actually, I am not sure the word “willingness” is the right choice because these kids were never asked to help. In fact, kids ages 3-16 jumped into the process  without any expectation to do so or asked to do so, and it was amazing. These children knew that this was a project for them and the other community members who visit the Soup Kitchen. Therefore these young children who did not even have to help made various water trips, helped mix cement, and collected hundreds of rocks. The message these kids sent was a pretty strong one and the best part is that it was unintentional.

In addition to the starting of our playground a group of us attended mass. This was a very interesting experience. The ceremony was beautiful. I loved seeing such a mix of the Basotho culture and the traditional Catholic church ceremony. It brought such an element to mass that I have never seen before and I am glad I was apart their worship, even if it was just for one day.

So as I close here is my shamless plug: Dad, Bruce Wallace, if you are reading this I love you very much! Hope you are having the best day on the beach! See you soon and thank you for your part in allowing me to be apart of this journey in Africa.

-Rachel W.