When we arrived at the mission station and the buildings for Growing Nations Trust here in the Maphutseng Valley, the whole experience was surreal. I almost had to pinch myself to make sure that I was not dreaming.  As we were driving the very bumpy and winding road to the station, Kendelle and I had been talking to William, the administrator here at GNT.  He is a young adult, who grew up in Lesotho and who participated in the International Volenteer Exchange Program (IVEP) through MCC.  He was stationed in the US, where he continued developing his English speaking, some of which he had begun learning in Lesotho.  He has been a wonderful gateway into the language and culture of the Basotho people.

I spent the first few days here learning about the project involved in conseration agriculture as well as the school and student that I would be involved with during my stay.  I was blown away by the beauty of the valley and the mountains, the sound of the small river that flowed less that a quarter mile away from the station and the children shouting and running as they played games down at the soccer ground.  The Basotho love football (soccer), so the only for sports field is for soccer about a half mile from the mission station.  Mixed with the joy and beauty of the valley, though, is the sadness of seeing the deep gulleys and dongas that have formed over the many years of erosion since the Basotho began plowing their fields.  When I say deep, I mean as deep as 20 or 30 feet but also with some as tall as I am.  It’s scary to see the power of water and the damage that it has done in the midst of the Basotho’s longing to live subsistently here in the valley.  This erosion problem is what Growing Nations Trust is focusing on as they teach farmers to rotate crops and keep the top layer of compost, rather than turning it over every year leaving their good soil available for water rushing through during the wet season.

I started working at the school this past Monday with an introduction to all of the teachers and a rather intimidating introduction to all 360 students here at the Maphutseng Valley Primary School.  I am working in the Standard 5 classroom currently.  I started the first few days, teaching math to the students, but after seeing the students struggle to understand my English, my fellow teacher and I have decided to let her continue teaching math because examinations are coming up soon in November.  I agreed with her decision because she knows the students better than I do. The decision was very humbling.  I was excited to teach, but it helped me realize that I have a lot of things to work on in my teaching style, including classroom management techniques and a variety of explanations that will help a diverse group of students understand math content.  I have now taken a background role in the classroom.  I am grading papers, assisting teachers in their university work, beginning some ideas on book shelves for the classrooms with limited building materials, and entertaining some ideas about children’s bible study material as well as teacher’s spiritual development.  I’ll have to do some more research and planning as the year continues.

Along with my work in the school, I have been following August, the leader of GNT, listening to different ideas and plans that he has for the farm plots this year.  This week, we will work on putting in some drip-line irrigation for one of the plots so that we can show local farmers how different types of irrigation will help in their own farming.  One of the main goals of GNT is to find many different ways of farming within this mountainous country that do not involve plowing but are affordable for the farmers and yield enough crop so that the farmers can live subsistently and even make a profit if at all possible.  GNT practices no-till farming, in which they do not disturb the soil at all in their farming practices.  Unlike home where we often use a soil finisher before we plant our corn or a ripper if we are going to plant corn in a field of corn from the previous year, Growing Nations knows too well the damage that plowing has done on inclines in the maphutseng valley, so they strive to get all of the local farmers to also no-till.


~ by randallkoehler on September 11, 2011.

One Response to “Lesotho”

  1. Wonderful – seems like you enjoying!!

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