Friday, July 15, 2016

Vacation, Project Workshop, All Vol

It’s been a while…
…I’ve been a fungi though.

We had a development workshop with our Basotho counterparts in Hlotse last month.  The weeklong workshop was held at the wonderful Mountain View Hotel.

The training involved HIV / AIDS information coupled with project planning.  The project planning was well run and helpful in developing a secondary project for each of the volunteers.  

My counterpart, Ntate Mothibeli, and I came up with a borehole (water well) idea.  Neither of us had the idea coming into the workshop but through various brainstorming activities, we concluded that this would best suit the needs of the school and surrounding community.  Our school is spring fed and runs out of water several times throughout the year.  Furthermore, we have existing plumbing that is not being used.  Our dorms currently house 90 girls but the water is not connected because they would run the spring dry in a short period of time.  A minimum of 25% of the funding must come from the community either through labor or materials.  We will be holding a few staff meetings and community pitso gatherings in the following weeks.

After the workshop, all of the Mokhotlong group + Melinda, Jeremy, and Amanda, hitch hiked in pairs back to Mokhotlong.  It was a leap frogging race.  Melinda and I must have been one of the least charming pairs cause we were taking up the rear of the pack.  

We picked up Jim and Will on the way up Moteng Pass.  There was a broken down semi truck blocking the already narrow passage.  We skirted around it after an hour wait and were back on our way.  

Moteng Pass is a pretty hairy stretch of switchbacks that leads up the mountains.  There are many breathtaking views along the way.  Here a rondavel rests on a cliff.

Afriski is open for business.  It is really just an over-hyped bunny slope but it remains booked all winter, after all there aren’t many places to ski in Africa.  The water, at the base, is used to create artificial snow.

Our ride was only going as far as Letseng mine so we were left in the middle of nowhere for a while.  Jim (in green) got a ride with an individual with a single front seat available.  The rest of us waited behind.  Eventually a taxi came with only two available seats.  Melinda and I hopped in and made it to my house by dark.

************* A whole lot of nothing happened for the next few days **************

We had another conference at Mohale Dam over the 4th of July.  This conference, called “All Vol”, involved, you guessed it, all of the volunteers in country.  It was a good team building and networking opportunity.  I hadn’t met or even seen 1/3rd of the volunteers prior to All Vol.

Here our country director, the big cheese if you will, Wendy Van Damme, explains the current situation between Peace Corps and Lesotho.

All Vol is a good opportunity for volunteers to share their experiences.  Adrian and Amber talked about an HIV workshop they attended in Botswana.  

There was a wall with an envelope for each volunteer to receive encouraging messages from other volunteers.  It wasn’t a competition but in case you were wondering, I got more messages than Melinda.  

An eating contest.  Here Susan finishes her second mokoenya as Alex washes down his fifth.  

Melinda and I signed up for the Mohale Dam tour.  Water is the largest export of Lesotho.  The Mohale Dam is a storage reservoir for water being sold to South Africa.  I’ve never seen an embankment dam before.  It’s essentially a giant mound of rocks (7.3 million m^3 to be precise) that cuts off a river.  The large cement channel in the photo is the overage runoff.  When the reservoir fills to capacity, excess water escapes down the channel.

We got to tour the inside of a control valve tunnel.  Mohale Dam isn’t hydroelectric, boo, so we didn’t get to see anything incredibly exciting. 

The 10 year old child in me was screaming out to press some buttons, especially the red ones.  

Posing on the reservoir side of the dam.

The whole group except me (I took the photo).  There are currently 83 volunteers in country.


- Joel

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