When my husband, Jonathan, and I first landed in Lesotho, it was important to find a place to live near the hospital where we will be volunteering for four months. Housing is at a premium in Lesotho, especially in rural areas like Hlotse. Hlotse is about 60 miles (86 km) northeast from Maseru, the capital city. It takes almost two hours to drive there from the airport since the roads twist and wind and are narrow and bumpy. Thanks to help from the director of the Lesotho-Boston Health Alliance (LeBoHA), we were able to find a house to rent about a 15-minute walk from the hospital.
Our house is lovely. It is a blessing to have a stable, safe place to live. Hlotse is a pretty spread out town, so we were very lucky to find a house close to the hospital in a good neighborhood called “America’, named after a group of Americans who lived here years ago. The house is furnished which was great because furniture is expensive here. We arrived in Lesotho with minimal supplies for setting up a household, – only a frying pan and some knives. The house has two bedrooms which is perfect because two more volunteers from Boston Medical Center, Anissa and Wan-Ju, will join us here soon.
Unlike many houses in rural Lesotho, we always have electricity and have running water most of the time. Parts of neighboring South Africa have water shortages because of drought but we sometimes lose water because of too much rain. The water treatment plant gets overwhelmed with the extra water and silt from run-off, so it shuts down. The first month we lived at our house there was no water for two weeks but recently, despite the rain, we have had a steady supply of water.
There is a spigot outside the house which comes in handy for times when the house doesn’t have running water. Sometimes the spigot dries up, so we carry large plastic buckets to the hospital which always has water, fill the buckets there, and then take a taxi home with our full pails. We also put large buckets outside the house to collect rain from the gutters. Not having water certainly makes you appreciate how much water we typically use every day. Jonathan and I are doing our best to conserve water even when we do have water.
There is some space in front of the house that I have used to plant a small garden. Currently we have radishes, basil, and spinach growing. I was limited in what I could plant because we are only here for four months. Even so, I am excited to have a garden since we live in a second story apartment in Boston with no outdoor space. The yard at the house here has peach trees around the property. We are very lucky to be able to walk outside and enjoy the fresh fruit. Like so many people here in Lesotho, small gardens and fruit trees supplement what we eat. For us it is a luxury, for many people it is a necessity.