27 September, 2010

School Church Service

Elizabeth writes;

I wish I had taken my camera to school today.
Firstly, as I arrived I was presented with a gift of a live chicken.  Here I am arriving home, having carried it across the fields and on the bus!

chickenhome.jpg

Then, the priest arrived ready to take our end of year service, about two hours earlier than we were expecting him.  Nevertheless, we immediately suspended lessons and started to proceed to the church in the village – about twenty minutes walk away.  If you have ever escorted schoolchildren to church, you will not expect them to sing and dance all the way, but here that is what they do.  They enjoy life, fragile as it is.  We walked across the river, which is now completely dry – we have had no rain for five months and the ground is like sand and the air is constantly full of dust.
I took this photo last week.

dry-river.jpg

We shared the service with the primary school.  Next week is a holiday and after that our Form Cs and the primary standard 7s start their public exams, so the service was dedicated to them.  I felt really emotional when our students went forward for their blessing.  I was so proud that Fusi has offered them an opportunity for education they could not have otherwise afforded; but I also felt so much for the lives so many of them have to cope with.  Many of them are orphans, have very sick parents or are head of the household where a parent is away trying to earn some money.  I hope so much that they will be able to attend high school next year and complete their final set of school exams after two years.  It is so difficult for them to find the fees, and the money for transport to these distant large schools.

When we returned to school, there was great excitement as tomorrow is our school trip.  There have been many changes to both the date and the destination, but it now seems certain that we will visit Semonkong in the highlands.  About two thirds of the school are going so it should be a great day out.  Photos will no doubt follow – they have already demanded that I take the camera!

20 September, 2010

Miscellaneous

Elizabeth writes:

First of all, apologies for the lack of updates recently.  Tom’s death threw everything into turmoil, and adjusting back to routine was at times slow.  However, things are settling down now – for us, at least.
There are a few things at school I have been intending to blog, so they will all have to be squashed in together:

Parents
Schools are instructed to hold two parents’ meetings per year.  These consist of gathering parents together and then the principal or the chairman of the school board (governors) addresses the meeting, reviewing progress of the school, telling parents what they should be doing (mainly paying fees on time) and outlining plans for the future.  Individual progress of students is not on the agenda.  Our meeting was a couple of weeks ago, and our principal decided that the progress of each child would be discussed.  The teachers really didn’t know what to make of the idea.  Anyway, when the parents were told, they seemed really pleased, gathered up their offspring and went to meet the waiting teachers.  Home from home for me, but the students at first were terrified.  It went extremely well, and the teachers thought it had been an excellent idea.  Fusi leads the way!

Gifts for the Garden

When I was home in July I visited the school in Kirkby Woodhouse, near Mansfield where my daughter Annie was teaching.  The school very generously held a non-uniform day and cake sale in aid of Fusi.  This year we introduced agriculture to the curriculum but were lacking the tools for practical work.  Each student has his or her own little plot to cultivate.  We are extremely grateful for the donation of spades, forks, rakes and watering cans, much appreciated by the students as you can see.

agrictools2.jpg agrictools1.jpg

Office

We have tried very hard during the year to spend money wisely and we are very pleased to have acquired a small surplus as the end of the year approaches.  This has enabled us to purchase a filing cabinet (to replace piles of assorted cardboard boxes) and pay for security bars to be fixed to the flimsy doors and windows.  Since we now have several laptops and science equipment stored there, this is essential.

Kitchen

As I have mentioned previously, our grant application to the British government has been shelved, but Rafiki Thabo (our own NGO) has promised the money to go ahead with building a kitchen at school.  We have been in contact with the contractor who promised to start very soon.  We were quite excited to arrive at school today to find a pile of gravel had already been delivered so it looks as though it will really happen now.

gravel3.jpg

10 September, 2010

The old and the new

Elizabeth writes:

I was very amused by the sight of this house in the nearby town….

tyhouse.jpg

7 September, 2010

Tragedy

Elizabeth writes:

Many of you will have heard me refer to our (American) Peace Corps friend, Karen.  Her group are approaching the end of their service so last week they held a conference ending with a party on Friday night;  she invited me as her guest at the party.

Generally, a good time was had by all and the young people looked set to party the night away.  Later in the evening, one of the young men was shot fatally without warning in the road nearby.  (We have been asked not to reveal any details of the murder at this stage)
Everyone was horrified and shocked.  Karen and I spent all day Saturday with the other young people trying to help them come to terms with what had happened.  They seemed particularly vulnerable thousands of miles from home and they really appreciated having a couple of the older generation around.  I constantly find myself thinking of his poor parents in America who were so proud of their son and will never see him again.

Yesterday (Monday), we returned to Maseru.  A memorial service had been arranged for the afternoon.  It was a beautiful service and planned with such care that it was difficult to believe that it had all been done in three days.  Tributes to Tom were paid by people representing the Americans and the Basotho, as well as some amazing offerings by his friends.
All my Basotho friends have been particularly horrified – especially as he was a foreigner in Lesotho to help its people.  There has been a worrying increase in gun crime in Lesotho in the last few years and much of it seems to be related to the production of cannabis which is common here.
I am now feeling quite exhausted.
Please remember Tom and his family and all the people here, especially the other Peace Corps volunteers in your prayers.