Saturday, April 28, 2007


This is the other little guy I fell head over heels for. Totally different from Relebo, but a good buddy of his.

He's super independent, going up and down Maleqatse all by himself at the ripe old age of four.

My favourite moments were when I held Lehlilika on one knee and Relebo on the other and just chattered with them in Sesenglish (a mix, obviously of Sesotho and English).

Walking home from school each day and having these two run up to me and greet me can't be beaten.

I wish they were waiting for me every day here in Ottawa to greet me. It never failed to put a huge smile on my face.

No matter how tired I was, I always mustered up the energy to scoop each one up and toss him in the air, then carry him back to my hut on my hip, or with his little hand in mine.

I tickled Lehlilika

When I was between villages, I decided with my boyfriend to sponsor Relebo and Lehlilika, so that, despite family situations (Relebo will be a double orphan soon and Lehlilika's 8 year old brother has left school to be a herd boy in order to help support the family), they will both attend school. A tiny bit of money each year will facilitate this. My friend was just in Lesotho and has a photo of the two of them in their uniforms. They started attending school half a year early, because two free meals are supplied there and they need food in their little bellies.

My darling, darling Relebo

Relebo was almost five when I was staying at Mahlekefane.

I really really hope to get back soon, but I wonder if he'll remember me. I don't know that I have all that many memories from when I was five.

I hope he does.

Because I certainly haven't forgotten him.

He's one of those people, that, for me, has really left the cliched footprints on my heart. Totally indelibly. (Not in-edibly, in-delibly, as in un-erasable).

These are amazing toys, much better than regular balloons, as they are so sturdy. They don't break and make a mess nearly as easily.

Masefatsa and Relebo Sing in English and Sesotho

Masefatsa and Relebohile (it's a common boys' name meaning "we are grateful") spent a lot of time in my hut, playing with me, and often performing for me. They are the granddaughter and great-nephew of the principal of Mahlekefane RC (Roman Catholic) Primary, 'M'e Ratia. They were absolutely adorable and treated each other like brother and sister.

Here they are singing in the hilariously bastardized English of rural Lesotho (I don't know how they got the lyrics for this strange song)

And this is them singing in Sesotho

Makhumalo Laughing

My gorgeous little Basotho sister, Makhumalo, has the greatest laugh. She's six and here she's sitting on my belly as I make faces which she copies and then I tickle her.

Man, I miss these kids.

Basotho Dancing - Mokhibo, Mohobelo and Richa Tetsi

I attended a feast of celebration for a local governement official, as a guest of honour. I felt kind of ridiculous and overly celebrated myself, as I got to sit in a place of prominence (under a tent) and was treated exceptionally well. I was also asked to make an impromptu speech after the hours of performances and speeches. Bear in mind, I barely speak the language, only a few words. Also, there is no electricity in the village, but members of the four surrounding villages attended, and a mic was actually hooked into the power supply from an old beat up pick-up. I demonstrated my "tricks", my Sesotho greetings and then pulled out the old stand-bys, lots of gesticulation, a huge smile and ululation (you'll hear some others ululating the background of these videos).

Here is the men's traditional Basotho dance - Mohobelo....

...And the women's - Mokhibo...

...And a not-so-traditional dance - Richa Tetsi entertaining the other kids

For some reason, Richa Tetsi reminded me of Charlie. It's probably the lankiness. And they're both pretty shy, but when they come out of their shells - look out!

He was 16 and dropped out of grade 4 halfway through my time in Mahlekefane. I was glad to see that he returned to classes.

Singing in the dark

This isn't all that impressive to watch, maybe, but it is incredible singing. There was some really cool dancing as well, but clearly there wasn't enough light to capture the full effect.

I can't belive how well the people in Lesotho sing, harmonizing and complementing each other perfectly.

This was shot at Malealea, a tourist lodge where I was charged about one quarter of the usual cost because the owners said I qualified for the "Basotho" rate. I guess by the end of my trip, I'd learned enough to fit in with the locals! (Even despite my pale skin and sharp nose)

My little abuti

I'll still spontaneously start to cry when I think about my little Relebohile. I've never fallen in love with any person as quickly as I did with this little guy.

I can't believe how much I miss him.

I think about him several times a day and wish I could have brought him home with me.

It gives me so much comfort to know that my Basotho "mother" has agreed to adopt him when his own mother dies (his father has died of AIDS and his mother is on ARVs for full-blown AIDS as well).

When I took him to an AIDS clinic to be tested (thank goodness, he is negative) he sat on my lap for the whole car ride, thrilled as could be. He'd never been in a "koloi" before.

So many times, when I am doing something interesting, or even just doing something I do every day, like climb a stair case, take an elevator, walk down a busy street, watch TV, I think about what he'd think, how excited he'd be.