Progress Report

Trip Start Jan 20, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Lesotho  ,
Sunday, January 16, 2011

I can still vividly recall climbing Mount Kilimanjaro some forty years ago. Awakened at midnight of the third day, we stumbled out of bed to begin the final ascent - taking two steps forward up the seemingly vertical gravel slope, only to slide one back. Not much progress, or so we thought until finally we were standing on top of the world, and then we realized how worthwhile it had all been.

And so it is at Rachel’s Children Home. The day by day crises at times seem insurmountable, but taking a step back to carefully evaluate what has actually been accomplished gives us the confidence to carry on. All of the funding proposals that Hilda and I wrote last year were approved, resulting in the following changes:

1. One hundred chickens are housed in their own coop and are now laying big, brown eggs on a daily basis. Truth be told, fifteen of them died due to the “too-big-egg-syndrome”, but that appears to be under control since we started adding crushed egg shells to their chicken feed. Egg sales are brisk, and the children are thrilled to have eggs as part of their diet.

2. Imagine being an orphan, and being told that you would be moving into a new house with your very own family. Each of the children at Rachel’s were desperate to be selected as part of the first trial run, but only five of the youngest were successful......this time anyway. A beautiful rondavel (typical, round housing construction) was built on the orphanage property, with the idea that five children and one caregiver would live there as a family unit. Initiated just a week ago, we are already confident that the positive effects on the children will assist us in securing funding for additional rondavels.

3. “Plug your nose” is still often the order of the day, as the existing johns stink to high heaven. The new state-of-the-art outdoor toilets should have been finished months ago, if not for a series of problems. First the road next door was torn up to put in sewers, so the toilet construction crew was unable to get access to the area. Next, the water pump at Rachel’s broke, so nothing could happen until $1000 was raised for a new pump.......and can you imagine forty-something kids with no water?? Then just as we were anticipating completion of the toilets within a week, severe flooding of the road into Rachel’s meant that the required sand, blocks and bags of cement could not be transported in. We’re still waiting.

4. Move the fifty pound bags of mealie meal into the office - temporarily. Then move the new batch of chicks from the school classroom into the old storeroom - temporarily. Then move the extra blankets - well, you get the picture. There’s never enough room for everything, and we are anxious to clear a suitable space for Rachel’s new bakery - “manna from heaven”! The dozens of Chinese owned-and-run textile factories nearby employ thousands of Basotho - all potential customers for delicious fresh bread!

In the meantime, we were compelled to address the problem of the impassable road. After the local government absolved all responsibility (quoting lack of funds as the reason), Hilda decided to take matters into her own hands. She, I and all the children over the age of six spent a day carrying everything from small stones to huge boulders to fill the ruts, after first digging trenches to divert the water. Up to our ankles in mud and other things I’d rather not think about, we worked relentlessly while the neighbours stood by and watched. Actually, the men sat under the trees and watched!! By evening we removed the barriers, and with aching shoulders we proudly watched the first vehicle to pass in days.

The road has not been our only problem:

- three days after Christmas, a freak windstorm created considerable damage by blowing part of the roof off the orphanage.
- The World Food Program has not renewed its contract with the Government of Lesotho for this district, meaning new sources of dried foodstuffs must be solicited.
- Hilda has been scheduled for surgery in a local hospital, and she is legitimately very concerned.
- and of course there are always the bedbugs and cockroaches to deal with......

But these are all small steps backward, as we continue to focus on a positive future. Two young university graduates have recently agreed to volunteer their time with Rachel’s for a few months, and we are excited about their potential to initialise additional income generating projects. I purposely haven’t named any of the donors, or the many good friends (you know who you are) who have sent money electronically to assist with both the day to day necessities and the exciting new ventures that constantly give us stimulation and hope. Hilda, the children and I are very grateful and thank you all so much!

But I can’t leave without a progress report on the children. They are after all, the reason for all of these activities. They love to cheat at “UNO”, they never get tired of running their fingers through my hair nor stroking my white skin (and especially jiggling the flab on my arms!!), they shout for joy whenever I bring a new colouring book and crayons, and they are all terribly excited that holidays are over and school starts tomorrow.

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Chris on

How inspiring to read this post Sharon... Really it shows how being focused and collaborating can result in greath things (despite setbacks)... Thinking of all of you, while looking at the fresh sparkles on the snow!

Charlotte Anokwa on

What you have been able to do is truly amazing. Blessing on you all.

Laura on

Hey Dear Sharon,
I finally got connected to your blog. I am going to enjoy going back and reading all your past adventures and keeping better track of your current ones. I know for certain that you are working too hard, but I also know that it makes you happy. So, keep up the good work! The pictures are great.
Love ya, Laura

laura on

PS: It' New Years in Vietnam today so "Chuc mung nam moi!" I skyped with Phuoc and Nam last week and they said they missed you very much. I told them I would pass on their love to you. So, there you have it. Love and Happy New Year from Vietman,.. and me.

Irene on

Hi Sharon
I just caught up with your news here and was sorry to read about your pothole mishap but oh how wonderful to hear about (hard won) successes at the orphanage, stinky loos notwithstanding. Your pictures are marvellous as always. Tulips and daffs in bloom here and it feels wonderful to be able to get my hands back in the dirt. Thinking of you. Much love, Irene

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