Ha Sefako, Butha Buthe, Lesotho
I graduated from Penn State and currently live in Lesotho, Southern Africa as I serve in the Peace Corps!

My Lesotho Videos

Friday, April 17, 2009

I'm back from Durban!

I’m back from Durban! 9 of my friends and I spent the last week in Durban, South Africa. We had an amazing time exploring that part of the country!!! So we started last Thursday and took a 6 hour bus ride to Durban. 5 of us traveled together to make traveling easer. We had intended on getting to Durban early to get to our hostel, check things out, and get a bite to eat. Instead, we got there just as the sun was setting and ended up in one of the three “don’t go there” areas on the map. We wanted to go to a small town called Umzumbe for the first night and then head back up to Durban for the rest of our vacation. We missed the last bus to Umzumbe and our amazing bus driver drove us around for a while until we found 2 taxis to take us to a different hostel. Things ended up working out, so it wasn’t too bad.

The next day, the five of us went to the beach, which was amazing. I felt like I was back in America. There was a board walk with a ton of little shops and places to eat, a small amusement park, and a great beach. We figured out the hard way that the beach was about an hour walk from where we were staying, but it gave us a chance to meet some people and figure out where things were.

It was either rainy or cold for two or three days, so we went to “the biggest mall in the southern hemisphere.” It was big, but I’m not sure if it was the biggest. I ate about 4 meals at the mall, including chicken pot pie and sushi. They were both amazing! They also had beer on tap! Having cold beer on tap was definitely a change from living in Lesotho.

The mall was pretty big, so I ended up buying a long sleeved t-shirt, a hookah, and an Obama t-shirt. The people in my village always tell me not to fear the black man and ask me if I like black people. They are also convinced that only white people live in America. I figure the t-shirt will spark some conversation!

To all of my first graders, now second graders! I have not seen a lion yet, but I have seen baboons, ostriches, and impalas. It was really cool! I wasn’t able to take a picture, but I will have my camera ready next time!!

So now I’m back in Lesotho and am getting ready to go back to my village. I’m staying in the camp town until Saturday or Sunday to get some work done. I have 6 weeks of school until winter break. My goals from now until then are to get all of the paperwork for my upcoming projects done. Some of the projects include…creating libraries in 3 schools (my mom will be in charge of that on the American side), adding 3 classrooms onto one of the schools that I work with (I’m going to need some help with that, but will post more in a month or two), and I want to have a camp in October for high school students to learn about HIV/AIDS, career counseling, and to play a ton of games for kids. I’m pretty excited about all of these and hope they end up working out.

I’ve gotten a few e-mails asking what kind of things I need and what kind of help the schools need. I’ll start with the schools.
I’ve been working with preschools that are next to each of the primary schools that I work with. Unlike the primary schools, the preschools are not given much, or any, financial help or school supplies. I would love to bring in Lego’s, art supplies (a lot), and educational games. I’m working with them on creating educational games out of things that can be found in many homes here. I’m hoping to have a workshop for each school between now and June, but we’ll see!
For the primary schools, I am working on creating 3 libraries. I have to fill out the paperwork and might not have it done until schools are out, but I definitely want to import roughly 3,000 books. My mom is going to be in charge of collecting the books and shipping them to New Orleans through the African Libraries Project. The whole thing will cost around $1,800, which we will also be raising. If you are interested in helping financially or donating any books, e-mail me! I’m really looking for books for K-3. The kids aren’t strong readers and are working on basic reading skills, so easy readers, leveled readers, and books with a lot of repetition would be great. Picture books and simple educational books would be great, too. So e-mail me if you want to talk more about this!! I could always use more books, but 1,000 per school is the minimum and it costs roughly $600 per school.

Another project that I’m working on is to add onto one of my schools. I still have a ton of work to do for this one, but the total cost should be around $4,000. We’ll talk more about this in a few months!!!

A few people have been asking what kind of things I need, so I made a list!! I would love things to make an easy dinner, pasta in a bag or soup in a bag. The just add water kind of stuff! I’ve gotten a few packages of chicken, which are great and easy. M&M’s and Hershey kisses would be amazing, too!! I tend to wake up a little late for school and have been running out the door with a cereal bar in my hand. I haven’t been able to find them here, so they would be helpful. All of the packages that I’ve received so far are great. Really anything that you think I would like would be perfect.

Well that was a jumble of information! I hope everyone is doing well. I will be able to check my e-mail on and off for the next 6 weeks and then should have more regular access over winter break! I might write more about Durban tomorrow or Sunday before I go back to my village!

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