Tag Archives: celebration

Thanksgiving Recipe 2014

London Thanksgiving Dinner
1 Portuguese
1 Australian
1 Briton
1 Irishman
1 Dutchwoman
1 American
8 supermarket trips
3 hours of cooking
5 Thanksgiving dishes (divided)
2 holiday candles
3 bottles of wine

Mix for 3 hours, stirring in 20 minutes’ worth of stories explaining the origin of Thanksgiving holiday and traditions (Optional: add 1/2 cup skepticism and a healthy dash of snark).

To make gluten-free or historically accurate, may substitute alternative Thanksgiving accounts.

Serve hot.

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TTL Turns Ten!

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[Note: This is a cross-post. The original can be found on the TTL blog]

Remember that epic moment when you instantaneously transitioned to requiring two numbers to record your age? Double-digits at last! Ten years is a milestone for nine-year-olds the world over.

Similarly, ten years encompasses a full decade of successes and learning opportunities for a growing organisation and Touching Tiny Lives is no exception. The achievement is worthy of celebration. Fortunately, TTL knows how to party in style.

IMG_7333On the last chilly, windy morning in May, Mokhotlong turned out for a fun walk through the main street of town from the Senqu Hotel to TTL’s front door where a series of speakers – beginning with our own ‘M’e Nthabeleng Lephoto – recounted TTL’s remarkable history and extolled some highlights of significant progress to date:

  • Over 1,400 children have received TTL services since 31 May 2004.
  • More than 260 critically ill children have been rehabilitated under the watchful eyes of the Safe Home staff.
  • TTL has proudly graduated 800-plus clients from the program after the child has attained stable and sufficient weight gain and development.
  • Our services extend to 11 health clinic catchment areas.

Best of all, we set aside some time to honour one of TTL’s most dedicated employees, ‘M’e Mathabang.

IMG_7381Her hard work and unfailingly positive attitude have made the TTL Safe Home such a lively and welcoming environment for clients, staff, and visitors.

Representatives from major partners and donors arrived to show their support and to call for a continuation of TTL’s good work in Mokhotlong and Thaba-Tseka districts.

But of course, no celebration would be complete without food, music, and DANCE!

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IMG_7456Guests enjoyed a community lunch, courtesy of TTL staff, and still more dancing continued long into the evening.

The next milestone birthday may be some time off, but the euphoria of ten years will probably last quite a while. Thanks to all of oursupporters who have stood by us over the years. We are proud of the services we deliver and are grateful that through your generosity, such quality care is made possible.

Rea lebohang hahalo! Salang hantle!
Thank you very much! Stay well!

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LHWP: Not without controversy

IMG_5553I cannot claim superior knowledge of environmental degradation or of actual economic impacts by large-scale hydro-electric projects in sub-Saharan Africa. Neither will I say the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) is the first of its kind to throw academics, politicians, and concerned citizens into a frenzy (see in particular: Grand Inga Dam Hydro Project in DRC). Yet, I am fairly confident that most such projects are greeted, at least at the outset, with ceremonial pomp and flair. This was certainly the case last Thursday when ‘M’e Nthabeleng and I visited the LHWP Phase II launch celebration at the Polihali Dam site.

IMG_5526Attendees ranged from local high school students, who were liberated from their classroom confines to perform at the event, to King Letsie III of Lesotho and President Jacob Zuma of South Africa. Essentially, the launch was a grand opportunity for the local community to gather (alongside the foreign dignitaries of Lesotho’s only national neighbor), sing, dance, and uncork a few bottles of champagne. No shame.

IMG_5558But celebrations aside, one wonders how much the LHWP will benefit Lesotho in the long run, and how Polihali Dam will benefit Mokhotlong District in particular.

Entire villages must be relocated out of the path of future inundation. Their compensation is small and strictly monetary – no alternative housing, land, or counseling offered. Thousands of temporary jobs are created with each new phase of construction, to the benefit of local laborers, but as each section of LHWP is completed, so too are those contracts with few alternative or continuing employment options. Infrastructure erected to aid in efficient project-completion comprises roads and electrical lines – admirable undertakings, but short on long-term maintenance. Furthermore, the pre-project environmental studies conducted, supposedly with input from those same locals about to be booted from their homes, have produced cheery results and verbage but few enough solid facts to support the ecological overhaul about to take place. Already Lesotho faces horrific effects from construction projects that degrade the landscape, which naturally erodes at an alarming rate.

[The LHWP] is an ambitious 30-year, US$16 billion bilateral venture that envisions building five or six large dams in Lesotho … The largest water infrastructure project on the African continent, when completed it will transfer over 70 cubic metres of water per second to South Africa. [via IRIN]

The unavoidable inter-dependency of Lesotho and South Africa is unfortunate at best. Lesotho’s most valuable resource, water, is also its largest export to its dry, wealthy border-mate at 25% of total export revenue, 3-5% of overall GDP per annum. Already South Africa claims a huge percentage of Lesotho’s workforce, as jobs are scarce in the mountain kingdom, and controls much of Lesotho’s food imports, particularly to remote regions such as Mokhotlong.

À mon avis, Lesotho comes out on bottom in this deal, but what choice does it have? A question I cannot answer.

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Operation: Jenn Appreciation Weekend

‘M’e Jenn is leaving Lesotho for the blistering cold of the American Northeast!

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As the weeks have passed and the days have ticked by at an alarming rate, our kitchen conversations have turned repeatedly to packing, budgeting remaining cash to avoid international withdrawal fees, leftover pantry food, and travel to the Jo’burg airport. While Jenn mulled over the finer details of collecting her life into assorted baggage after three years in southern Africa, I was plotting how to kick her off the continent in celebratory style.

STEP 1: Travel to Johannesburg*

The BOTFL students, who have spent the last two weeks in Lesotho trying to develop appropriate sustainability measures for TTL, had booked their departing flight on Saturday 15 March. From Johannesburg.

*For those curious, a drive from Mokhotlong to Johannesburg takes roughly 7 hours (8+ if you avoid the R36 toll), travels through three major mountain passes, and is nigh impossible to schedule through a coach service. Hence TTL was suckered into delivering our volunteers to their Western comforts.

Step 2: Commemorative Tattoo

2014 marks the 5-year anniversary of the loss of Jenn’s father from early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Understandably, the absence of such a prominent figure in a person’s life can yield any number of results. For Jenn, it marked the start of a kind of freedom; it kickstarted her adventures in Swaziland, India, and Lesotho over the past three years. A wandering time, but a wandering with purpose.

To commemorate her father, Jenn wanted a tattoo (her first) of a forget-me-not flower, the symbol of Alzheimer’s research, and she hoped to have it done while in southern Africa. With the appointment set for Saturday morning, I fulfilled my arduous duties as moral support/documentarian with gusto.

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Step 3: Good food

South Africa = Food variety = Nom on all the sushi

Step 4: Swanky (free) Pretoria overnight

Sometimes your friend’s father is an ambassador. Sometimes you schedule a last-minute stay in his diplomatic residence. Sometimes you lie face-down on a glorious shag carpet and fawn over his art collection and personal library.

Step 5: more good food

Sometimes the ambassador treats you to the most delectable Greek food you’ve tasted in years, and you eat enough moussaka to last several days.

Step 6: Clarens Lunch Break

True, Clarens is a bit of a remote-locale tourist hub filled with false curio shops and overpriced restaurants, but it broke up the drive home and allowed us to eat hummus and artichoke hearts on whole grain seed bread in a park.

Step 7: Surprise Goodbye Dinner!

After a long activity-filled weekend and a long drive back to Mokhotlong, Jenn usually has food and sleep on her mind. But with only three days until she departs, I wanted to make sure two of her close Peace Corps friends managed to get in a proper goodbye. We pulled through the back gate to a surprise candle-lit dinner in the common rondavel – the last of its kind, and arguably the best.

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Jenn Baker, we appreciate you.

How to host a one-man Oscar Party in Lesotho

  1. Wake up at normal time (4am)
  2. Make coffee for two; grab only one mug
  3. Crawl into bed with a laptop + internet access
  4. Turn on Pharrell’s 24-hour Happy music video for ambiance
  5. Stream The Oscars Live Blog
  6. Check @theacademy Instagram every 5-7 minutes
  7. Feel a complete lack of emotion. Vow never to host a one-man Oscar Party in Lesotho again.

Dance It Out

Ghanaians love to dance. And damn, are they good at it.

Whether it’s swaying and weaving to the soulful Christian hymns and variation gospel music or bobbing and thrusting to the (sacrilegious) Azonto style pop tunes, everyone in Ghana puts me to shame. Not that it’s hard to do.

Following the Supreme Court verdict on Thursday afternoon, the whole town of Ho turned out to sing and dance in the streets. Men and women dressed in white scarves of celebration and chanted while leaning out taxi windows or parading down sidewalks.

Every day on my walk to and from the office I pass a bar called Queen’s Spot. Thursday afternoon the music spilling from the speakers that had been newly placed out front was ear-splittingly loud and about two dozen people were crowding the patio area to dance and celebrate. Everyone within earshot of Queen’s (a good distance, you can imagine) was dancing in the street or in their vendor stalls.

People worried about violence following the court verdict.

In Ho, we just danced it out.

The Supreme Court Rules

Since before I arrived in Ghana, the Supreme Court has been debating a petition to overturn the results of the November election, which installed John Mahama as President of Ghana. Today the Supreme Court delivered its verdict to annul the petition. The elections are valid; John Mahama retains the presidency.

The celebrations in Ho (seat of the NDC party – John Mahama’s) are in full force. Football chants and taxi horns honking and general singing and merriment. Elsewhere in Ghana, the celebrations may be a bit more muted but the country seems to be celebrating this win for democracy. The Z-Bar in Accra is even offering free drinks regardless of political affiliation!