29 August, 2010

Names

Elizabeth writes:

Names are very important to Basotho people and their meaning is always significant.

When a baby is born, it is seen as a new member of the whole family, not just of the parents.  The name is usually chosen by the grandparents, and most names are normal vocabulary words of the Sesotho language.  Most are also given to either sex.

As you may expect, there are plenty of cheerful names such as Neo (gift),  Lerato (love), Rethabile (we are rejoicing).  Sometimes babies are named according to when they were born e.g. Masiu (night), Puleng (rain), Paseka (Easter) or even Khetho (election).  If there has been a recent death in the family, the baby may be called Malefu (death), Mahlomola (sorrow) or Sello (crying).  It seems quite a burden to be called “Death” for the whole of your life!  Variations on Tseliso are common; it literally means consolation, and is usually used when the parents’ previous child has died – sadly a frequent event here.  Alternatively, it may be thought that evil sprits took the previous child (superstition thrives here), so the child is given an unpleasant name such as Mantja (mother of a dog) to dissuade the spirits from taking this child.

When the baby is baptised, which they all are, then a Christian name is given, there must be some ancient “Name your Baby” books around, since, as well as John and Lucy, some seem to have names like Doris and Alfred.

This means that everyone has three names – First name, surname and Christian names.  Most people choose to be known by their first name, but quite a few like to be called by their surname or Christian name.  Men are always addressed with the prefix Ntate (literally father) and women by ‘Me (mother);  this is a godsend when you cannot remember their names, as Ntate or ‘Me alone will suffice.

As in our tradition, a woman takes her husband’s surname on marriage.  However, her identity disappears completely when she has a child.  She becomes “mother of …”; so, if her child is called Thabo, her first name is now Mathabo.

Soon after we arrived, we were welcomed into the community at Ha Fusi by being given Sesotho names.  David is Tsepo (trust/hope); mine is Maboitelo (sacrifice) – very worthy!

22 August, 2010

Wedding Anniversary

Elizabeth writes:

 

Saturday was our wedding anniversary. Since our birthday celebrations had been on our
own, we decided to invite some of our friends to join us for a little joint celebration lunch.

We met up at the Maseru Sun, a good quality hotel in the capital, for their eat-as-much-as-you-like buffet.   It was a wonderful occasion, very relaxed and cheerful, and lots of excellent food.

Here you see us with our friends Karen and Rusty (American Peace Corps volunteers), Kathy (a new friend from Britain) and Molly and Luke (from India).   Friends feel like family when you are a long way from home.

 

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August weather

Elizabeth writes:

At last we seem to be leaving winter behind, although the nights are still chilly. There has been no rain now for over three months and the ground is bone dry; the surface is just fine sand, like the beach.

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August brings winds.  Horrible strong winds which create dust storms.

However, it is a sign that spring is approaching, and the peach blossom is already beginning to flower which is beautiful, as we see so few flowers here.

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September will hopefully bring the rainy season which will give us the next kind of weather for us to complain about – just like back home really.

 

10 August, 2010

Back in Lesotho – death, rats and still cold

Elizabeth writes:

We have been back over a week now and it hardly feels as if we’ve been away.  It really has become our second home here, and our little house felt very welcome.

A friend e-mailed us to ask of our first impressions on our return.  One thing I miss is the greenness of Britain – the trees, the hedges and the grass all looked so beautiful; it’s easy to take them for granted.  It was also lovely to see all the flowers – quite a rarity here, since why would you waste money on seeds and precious growing areas on something you can’t eat.

AIDS never goes away and our local friend had just nursed her 28-year old daughter to death leaving two children of 13 and 2.  Of course, it “wasn’t AIDS”;  firstly it was arthritis, then TB; everyone here lives in denial of this deadly disease which is slowly killing the nation.  A seven year old in the primary school had died, and two other young people in the village (one from our school) are desperately ill.  They are both maternal orphans, so there is a high chance that they were born HIV positive but no-one will get them tested so that they can receive ARV drugs which could extend their lives and improve their health.

Rats:  I returned to school last week and we found that birds and rats had managed to get into the staffroom building.  The rats had a field day in the wooden cupboard, trying out anything that took their fancy including this rubber ball!

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I liberally scattered poison around the next day and we haven’t seen them since.

At home, there are plenty around also, and there are no sewers for them to hide in.  Everyone seems to have fun burning the grass round their houses supposedly to frighten off snakes and rats so David indulged in a little pyromania too.

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We were pleased to miss the worst of the winter, and, although cold, the days did seem to be warming up slightly.  Yesterday, however, the winds started and they were icy cold, beating the sun by miles in the temperature stakes.  The pipes froze again last night, so we are hoping it is just a blip and spring really will come soon.

I know the title of this posting looks a bit depressing but we are still very happy here and have some good friends to relax with.

2 August, 2010

Six weeks later

Elizabeth writes:

Where did the time go?  One minute we were arriving back in Britain and the next we were back in our little home in Lesotho.
We had a wonderful time, most of it spent with the family, especially enjoying the company of our three grandchildren.  How fast they grow!
It was also good to catch up with old friends, although we missed out on quite a few whom we were intending to visit.  Our apologies to them.
We were also overwhelmed with the support for the Ha Fusi project, both in spirit and in fundraising.  Thank you to the students and staff of Nottingham Girls’ High School and Kirkby Woodhouse Primary School for their interest and generous donations, and also to our other friends who have raised amazing amounts of money.
Particular praise to Sarah Stone for running the Mansfield half marathon and raising £1000.

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Since our hopes of a grant from the British Government for help to build a kitchen have been dashed, we now have that as an immediate target for this year. 

I found myself giving talks about my work, but perhaps my claim to fame came with my interview on Radio Nottingham – that was fun, especially when interrupted by the fire alarm.  If you would like to hear it, you can find it on www.thedunfords.org/interview/Interview.mp3

From now on, I really have to work on my exit strategy.  There are still a lot of tasks which I have to persuade the locals to take responsibility for.  I’l keep you posted!