Since our arrival in Thaba Tseka we have settled into our spacious accommodation and routine reigns- with washing weekend rituals quickly established! We are becoming accustomed to a varied (vegetarian) diet which we enjoy sharing around our dining table, coupled with tales of our adventures at school.
Only this weekend did we discover that our TV has cable! Cue 80’s and 90’s chick flick revival, interspersed with the odd football match for good measure- we are looking forward to watching the Wales match next weekend (provided the electricity holds out!). Over the week we were surprised to see that the local shops were slowly being painted red- we wondered if this was linked to our arrival, imagine Siôn’s face when he was told it was due to their Vodacom sponsorship!
Week one in Thaba Tseka schools has flown by with lots of new experiences and stories. We began our week with a tour of all our schools, where we were treated to morning assembly marches, many ‘Good Morning Teachers’ and even renditions of ‘Bore Da!’. The warm Basotho ways were clear and continued into our first few days at our respective schools. That is in spite of the first impressions when Vicki arrived at her school early on Tuesday morning to find that all the children stopped and stared at this ‘stranger’ arriving in their midst (just like an old cowboy movie!)… this soon changed however and now no matter where we go, someone knows Me Vicki- from pupils in the street (or hospital) to parents in the local shop. We have told them, that every fourth person in Wales is called Vicki! (She is the third to take part in the LTPP!)
Daily we now find ourselves walking to and from school like 21st century pied pipers followed by an array of smiling faces and questions about how we are today.
We have been spending time in various classrooms and have begun to collaborate with the teachers and learners. This has been a positive experience (if not frustrating at times, given the constraints of large classes (upwards of 150), not enough desks and limited space available in some schools!). Nevertheless, no matter which school you go to in Thaba Tseka, the children are smartly dressed and eager to learn some walking upto 2 hours to get to school. Their thirst for knowledge is not just limited to the teacher hours either it has transpired, even at lunchtime children flock to the library at Paray Primary to share a story with Mẽ Alyson. Ntate Siôn discovered that his lunchtime chess club was an instant hit!
WASH leaders at Thaba Tseka:
Thaba Tseka’s toilet construction project got underway this week with parents coming together to meet with representatives of TED Biogas and agree on their role in building. On Wednesday 6 members of Grade 7 began their work as ‘WASH Champions’ to document the journey that has just begun and acting as advocates for water sanitation and hygiene within their school. Head over to our Youtube channel to see the first video instalment.
Immigration, immigration, immigration:
On Friday the day came for us to meet with the Education office and arrange our permits, this got off to a speedy start and we were dreaming of taking an afternoon stroll up one of the local Thaba (mountains). It soon became clear that this was not to be however when after two visits to the police station and three visits to the immigration office our mission was only half complete!
What lay in store was a trip to the local hospital for a health check… where we were treated to visits to every department (even the mother and baby clinic!). This was far from dull with Siôn deciding to try to blame his high blood pressure on the young nurse who took the initial reading- this was greeted by hilarity from the older nurse who took the second reading and much eye rolling from Alyson and Vicki! 8 hours later our mission was complete!
With our aim to ‘Climb every mountain’ scuppered on Friday, on Saturday, we woke early and began our ascent. It was lovely to leave the hustle and bustle of the town centre and head off into the wilderness. We soon discovered however that we were not alone… echoing over the mountains (with not a soul in sight) came several little voices singing “ Bore Da, Bore Da, Sut wyt ti?, Sut wyt ti? Da iawn diolch, Da iawn diolch, Bore da! Bore da!” To say we were surprised was an understatement and shortly afterwards the local children began to appear to greet us. When we reached the top of the mountain and took a quiet moment to reflect, we again were greeted by shouts from afar and mountains stretching out into the distance in all directions as far as the eye could see. This really is the Mountain Kingdom in the Sky!
We are maintaining links with our fourth amigo, David, who is continuing his meetings with the movers and shakers of Lesotho education- most notable story this week was his visit to one establishment where the adjoining office door still had remnants of a failed assassination attempt several years ago… eek. David laughed it off and is still in one piece.