The Workshop

The following was published in The Capital Journal

During my first month in village, way back in January 2012, I invited members of the community’s health, HIV/AIDs support and water groups to a meeting with the village chief. Together we came up with a list of potential projects and them prioritized them based on need and practicality. We decided to form a committee that would organize an HIV/AIDs training for community members in three villages.

We planned to find an organization to help us without any fees because these are rural villages and money is very scarce. I really thought it would be easy because much of the aide in Lesotho is directed at HIV/AIDs. But I was very wrong.

First, I visited with the local clinic. The head nurse agreed that it would be to their benefit to have trained individuals in these rural villages and arranged to do a week-long session. I returned to the committee with the news and a few follow-up questions for the clinic. The committee decided that the workshop attendees, about thirty people, would walk to the clinic and bring their own lunches so that not costs would be accrued.

During my second meeting at the clinic, they informed me that the workshop couldn’t be held there because of on-going construction. Then they said the nurses would need transport money and catering to conduct the workshop, expenses my group could not afford.

My next step was to seek the assistance of a Peace Corps staff member who works a great deal with HIV/AIDs organizations in the country. She found one who was willing to conduct the workshop but communication ceased after a few months. We found another, and although there were a few logistical issues, we came to an agreement and a date was finally scheduled.

On the morning of the first day of the workshop, attendees gathered at the church, with notebooks in hand. I noticed that the presenter had yet to arrive so I called her. She said there was an issue with transport from Maseru to my village, about an hour in a private vehicle, and she wasn’t able to make it. We would have to solve the issue on another day as the person who could help us was out of the office, so the workshop would need to be rescheduled.

Knowing I couldn’t do this on my own, I asked the school secretary to help me explain the situation in Sesotho to the group. I watched all of their faces as the news hit that the workshop would not happen and we would have to continue to wait. I expected anger and disappointment.

But these are Basotho. They are always understanding and rarely bothered. Fearing I would stress too much, they promised me that it was not my fault. They seemed confident that the situation would eventually be resolved and I would, in due time, inform them of the workshop’s new date.

This project has been months in the making and, at times, I’ve wanted to assume the details would never work out and declare it a loss. But the Basotho don’t work that way. They take things slow and steady and they never lose hope in something they know is worthwhile. They fully believe that what is meant to happen will and they don’t worry about timelines and details.

This project will happen, I remind myself, and when it does it will be worth all the trouble.

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