My service as a Peace Corps Volunteer has several distinct chapters and it appears as though I have begun a new one without having realized it ever started. Safety and security in Lesotho is not what it once was and because of the increasingly disturbing events of the past 6 months, volunteers, ex-pats, and even the Basotho are progressively more vigilant. Because of the lack of documentation, uncertainty looms as to whether the crime rate is increasing or we are just more aware of the events that are unfolding. In any case, please try not to worry- I am more alert than ever and take the necessary precautions when traveling and working across Lesotho in effort to minimize the risks to my safety. Much has changed within our Peace Corps family since the night of September 3rd and our grief continues; however we press onward, honoring Tom’s memory and the mission of Peace Corps, toward the new normal we’ve been forced to create.
Luckily, I've been working on a project with my counterpart (Lebo) at Baylor that brings us all back to our happy youths and assists us in forgetting, at least temporarily, the troubles of the world. As part of our Strengthening Clinical Services program, we've created a play therapy room for children at Baylor's Center of Excellence in Maseru. We hired a painter, purchased dozens of toys, and will soon implement a play therapy program for the children who are in need of psychological services. Play therapy is a new form of care and counseling in Lesotho and thus education for staff and patients will be required. After the initial set-up is complete within the next couple of weeks, Lebohang and I plan to commence sessions with the children with the hopes of encouraging exploration and expressing their experiences through a natural, self-guided process. (Play therapy room below- a work in progress)
Thanks to a kind donation from the states, 300 children in and around the capital have received brand new toothbrushes, attended a course to teach them the importance of maintaining good oral hygiene, and developed skills to encourage others to do the same. Have you ever seen an American child so happy to receive a toothbrush??