It has been a long time since I wrote a blog post. We have been really swamped out here, and I haven’t found much time to write.
We just wrapped up our Youth Action Week last Saturday. It was a great week for us, SMARTD, and the community. We were joined by Volker Schlott and Jocelyn B. Smith from Germany, who helped us form a mass choir featuring over 80 students from three area schools. They also wrote a brand new song titled “Matla a ho na”, or “The Power Within”. We shot a ton of video over the course of the week, which is headed back to Germany to be edited in to a short film. I will post when it gets released.
Over the course of the week, we met the students at each of the three schools. One school had over 120 students turn out for the rehearsal! The kids, teachers, and our guest musicians all had a lot of fun learning the new song, singing old songs, dancing, and working on their voices. We also had the opportunity to show our guests a few of the SMARTD projects.
We traveled out to a remote village where we visited a women’s group who have built an extensive system of gabions, stone walls, and catchment tanks to control erosion and heal gullies on the side of a mountain. It is a massive amount of work, all done by hand by just twelve women. It is women like these that truly inspire me. These women are not paid to do this backbreaking work (imagine hauling sandstone rocks up the side of a mountain endlessly, week after week). They do it because they care about their homes and their community, and they want to stop the erosion and reclaim the land belonging to them. They aren’t doing this for handouts, they are doing it simply because it is the right thing to do. Amazing. It is these kind of people who will make or break Lesotho as development continues, not politicians or foreign aid workers.
We have also started working with an area primary school. Once a week, we provide training for their teachers in the national Life Skills Syllabus. We are also providing them with computer training, which has been a lot of fun. We have only had one lesson so far, but everybody had a blast. Unlike the States, there is no stigma regarding age and the ability to learn new technologies. It is great to see men and women of all ages really diving in. It is amazing how much faster you learn if you aren’t convinced that you are “too old” to learn new tricks.
As the schools close for summer break and everyone gets ready to wind down for the holidays, we are going to be headed in to Maseru for more training. We have a lot of exciting things planned for the new year. We will open the youth and IT centers full-time. We hope to expand our Life Skills Trainings to other schools. We are also reaching an agreement to bring, for the first time, high-speed Internet to our area. This is no small endeavor, and watch for an announcement in the next couple of months on what you can do to help with that project.