“No Matter Where You Go, Remember The Road That Will Lead You Home”
It's hard to believe that the last time I wrote a blog was before our Easter explorations with family. The opportunity to spend 10 days with some of my nearest and dearest exploring the coasts, mountains and wildlife of Durban and the Drakensberg Mountains was fantastic.
Collaboration and Progression
The last 7 weeks have been packed full, weekdays have been busy working with my Basotho colleagues on a range of lessons and teaching approaches; a range of painting techniques, practical maths, storytelling and creative writing and creating PowerPoint presentations with two large groups of excitable grade 6's from Katlehong and Thaba Tseka primary school were definitely highlights!
It has been very rewarding to see the WASH champions from both schools share their knowledge of the 5 F's and how to utilise their new hand washing stations with their peers across the school and the excitement of both pupils and staff that they had somewhere central to wash their hands during their school day (and to be able collect water without trekking up a mountainside at Thaba Tseka primary school!).
As well as all of this, we have been lucky enough to have been in Thaba Tseka during their cultural competitions for dance, drama and poetry. The talent of this group of young people never fails to amaze and delight!
One of the unexpected areas which has been a driving force for this second half of our time here had been that of running courses for groups of teachers and DRT(district resource teachers) in Maths and Phonics. Working with a very eager and enthusiastic group of ladies I have delivered 5 phonics courses and watched the teachers grow in confidence in their knowledge and ability to share with their colleagues. As for the maths course, it has evolved and grown since our first course in Mazenod near Maseru and now (6 courses later) to become the well-established routine. It has a pleasure to work closely with my Welsh and Basotho colleagues, bouncing off each other in the preparation and delivery- enjoying a laugh or two along the way.
Sights and Sounds
Weekends since Easter have seen us travelling to some of the sights that we have heard so much about- the tranquillity of Katse lodge overlooking the water reservoir and the chance to marvel at the enormous dam (after a 2km hike from the town) was in direct contrast to the taxis that we took, all of which are chocked full of people and have music blaring.
Our visit to Mazenod meant that we were able to leave the hustle and bustle of Maseru and visit Thaba Bosiu- sight of the founder of Lesotho, King Moshoeshoe I's settlement on top of a steep mountain side, it's not hard to see why it was such a successful location to hold off enemies. We had a lovely few hours looking around and enjoying the view of the mountain across a valley that inspired the shape of the Basotho hat with the sound of cattle bells echoing around us. While there we visited the cultural village that has been established with people in traditional clothing and traditional rondavel houses.
No Goodbyes Just Farewells
As June draws closer the weather in Thaba Tseka has grown colder and on our final journey down through the mountains we were treated to a spectacular drive through the snow and mist.
The last few days in Thaba Tseka have been full of fun and festivities as I've said my goodbyes to those I've worked with and built friendships with over the past 5 months. The effort that each school went to, in order to celebrate our time together in terms of dances, songs (that are now stuck in my head!) and speeches as well as their generosity in the gifts that they presented us with was humbling. It has been an honour to have had this opportunity to come and work with such a warm and supportive group of teachers and such an inspirational, determined and funny group of children, who have accepted me and all of my ideas and approaches (no matter how strange they seemed!). I will miss the mountains, the balance and mostly the people as I return to Wales and will always look back fondly on my time here in Thaba Tseka where I have learnt a lot about myself and about what is important from my Basotho colleagues.
I'm thankful to Dolen Cymru for providing me with the opportunity, to my school in Wales for allowing me to go! To my LTPP team mates, Alyson and Sion (without whom there would not have been nearly so much fun and laughter or so many brilliant memories!) and mostly to those I've worked with during my time in Lesotho who have made it such an unforgettable experience.