On Friday, our last full day in our homes, our mothers threw us a large farewell party held at my house. As I was dressing in my Shoeshoewe (traditional Basotho cloth) shirt from Soweto my sister Manapo burst in the door holding a beautiful red Shoeshoewe dress that she insisted I put on. She put my hair up under a matching headdress and wrapped me in a Seanamarena (traditional Basotho blanket). When I was finally ready for the party, I was surprised to see that all the other mothers had dressed their children in traditional clothing as well. Most of the village was present, the children standing around gawking at the funny-looking Basotho: all in Shoeshoewe, thick wool blankets, and boys wielding Molemo sticks. However, I believe that our group has never looked better. We were happy to be together.
It was a proud moment for our mothers and special for us to be dressed in their clothing, singing and dancing with them. We ate traditional food of sorghum and dinawa (beans) and sour porridge (leshelisheli). Our beaming mothers presented us with the gift of a hat. For me the party was a celebration of unity, a chance to revel in the relationship our group formed with the community. The following morning I was sad to leave my little Lesotho homestead, but I couldn’t help but smile as my mom carried my backpack towards the Malealea Lodge joking to all the villagers “I’m going to America, see you in five years!” she refused to hug me goodbye, insisting that she’d see me at the send-off. The three weeks in Lesotho truly flew by even though in the village the concept of “hurry” is foreign. Life without many distractions from God and relationships is precious – something for us all to strive for.
A day in Lesotho
I was awakened at three this morning to what has become a familiar sound. Someone in my room was using the midnight express (the bucket one uses when having to use the toilet in the night so you don’t have to go out to the outhouse). Without opening my eyes I rolled over and fell back asleep, thankful that I still had a couple hours left to sleep. At 5:30 I awakened again, this time to the sound of my host mother rustling her covers. Trying to get out of the nest she sleeps in next to my bed. After getting past my sleeping brother, and stepping through the maze of suitcases, she made it to the only other room in the house: the kitchen. I dozed off and on for the next hour, at times being aware of the noises of my mother bathing and then preparing breakfast.
By 6:30 the rooster next door was crowing continuously and the sun shone brightly through our window. It was time for Eva and I to crawl out of our shared bed and make our way to breakfast; our favorite meal of the day. Our host brother jumped out of bed as soon as he saw us head for breakfast.
The morning was spent at a garden over the mountainside. Six people from our group worked with ladies from the village to build a “keyhole” garden. Though shoveling and digging became tiresome, we were encouraged by the bright smiles and songs of the ladies. The bright blue skies and the majestic mountains provided a splendid backdrop.
At noon we headed home for lunch, which was followed by an exhilarating hike to a gorge with a river running through it. The mountains are steep and rocky, making the way slow and difficult. Wherever I go here I am amazed at the sheep and mountain goats, skipping on the mountains and precipices with ease. At the bottom of the gorge, our difficult path was rewarded by clear, deep pools of frigid water, which refreshed and renewed us, invigorating us for the return hike.
I now sit by an oil lamp and watch as Eva and the rest of my family play cards while we wait for supper to finish cooking. Soon it will be time to once again snuggle up in our family bedroom, for in Lesotho we go to bed when the sun does.
– Audrey Sims