The path was good most of the way with one major river crossing and three smaller streams. Just about a mile from the village we encountered a rock slide that had reduced the comfortably wide path to a narrow 12 inches with about a 100 foot drop off. We chose to get off the horses at that point and walk/crawl across. Although we rode horses, Melvin (MAF pilot) rode his dirt bike. It was quite a challenge as the trail is not the best and crossing a river became quite the challenge. But by God’s grace we made it.
After 2.5 hours of riding we reached Ha Thaba Bosiu. They had expected us to be there in the morning in order to hold a ‘pitso’, a meeting of the villagers and chiefs to discuss the airstrip and health post concept. As we got there around 3PM (later than they expected), many had left and agreed to come back the next morning. After a brief meeting with the chief we were taken to the primary school where we set up shop. The headmaster of the school had graciously agreed to allow us to use two of the classrooms – one for the medical clinic, and one for sleeping in. We unpacked medicines and began seeing patients. As some had traveled by foot for several hours to get there, we saw them first so they could be on their way back. We worked up till dusk seeing 67 patients.
Then it was time to unpack our personal things before it got too dark. We had foam mats and sleeping bags for on the floor. Melvin (MAF Pilot) had brought two single burner cookers so we proceeded to make up some supper and coffee (I usually travel with my home roasted coffee and coffee press).Good food and good conversation. Good night of sleep (well as you can on a cement floor at age 50).
It was light by 4:30AM and we had patients lined up by 5:00AM. We got our breakfast andbegan clinic by 6:00AM. Around 9:00 AM people had gathered for the pitso near the chief’s house. We were a bit disappointed that only 8 of the 50+ villages hassent representatives but it was still very informative. Lots of questions about who would pay for it, who will build it, how often will the ‘doctor team’ come, and what their responsibilities would be. We (the district representatives, the local council rep, MAF and LFDS as well as the chief) explained the idea of community participation being essential for success. We need them to ‘buy into’ the idea and provide voluntary labor and some supplies for it to work. Several of the ladies said they were ready to start building the next day if necessary. I really believe that they know the benefit that the health services will provide and want that for their families. In the discussions I shared that I was both a doctor and a teacher of God’s Word and one of them suggested that Sally and should just move there and stay with them as they needed a ‘priest and doctor.’ The more we asked we were able to find out that there was one Catholic group up the valley and one Protestant group in Ha Thaba Bosiu but no churches. It is truly a needy place both medically and spiritually.Before concluding the pitso, the chief insisted that all go up to the area where the proposed airstrip would be built. About 60 of us walked theone kilometer to the area and Melvin helped to show where the boundaries would be, and who’s field’s might be affected. Several questions ensued including concerns about whether or not the ‘wind’ from the airplane might damage their crops. They have experience with helicopters coming to deliver the money for old age pension payments in the village. Again the issue of who would compensate for the fields came up and we deferred that to the chief and local council to work out.After the airstrip pitso we were back to the school for the medical clinic work. Melvin headed out on his motorcycle as he needed to get back for flying.
We headed out on our horse and donkey caravan at noon. Three Basotho men accompanied us on foot to drive the donkeys along. We survived the land slide area and the river crossing and made it back to Sekolopata where the truck was parked. As we were about to leave we were met by the local chief who proceeded to tell me how she had not slept for two nights as she was concerned about the safety of our truck. I expected her to ask for some form of payment for this ‘trouble’ and she did indeed ask. She very politely asked if I had a couple of candies I could give her, which I gladly shared with her. She is a sweet old lady. From there it was back to Mohale and then to Maseru.
It was a successful journey as far as the pitsos we held, the clinics, and sharing the hope of Christ. We had several ask when we would be back and we are not sure. We may be back in January with a volunteer couple from the USA. Sally and I would really like to take the Jesus film there and do another clinic and health training. We are waiting to hear if the Lesotho government will fund the airstrip and health post so that we can begin that process.