Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Matlabe Teba, principal of Nohana Primary School in Lesotho, has been in the U.S. for about a week now. After a brief stay in Denver with Andrew Dernovsek, who gave him a tour of Denver University, he stayed with Andrew and Andrew's parents, Drs. Kim and Ken Dernovsek, in Pueblo West, Colorado. He had a fantastic day touring the Pueblo West High School and meeting with educational professionals and staff there. He was very impressed by the school, and has some good ideas he plans to take back with him and implement in Lesotho.
The school has offered to donate to Laptops to Lesotho 50 desktop computers that will be replaced this year and possibly several thousand laptops that are due to be replaced next year. There are a lot of details to work out on this very generous offer, and we hope to establish a partnership with the school. Some of the students are also going to do a fun run to raise money for our project.
At the school, Matlabe, in full Basotho regalia - Basotho blanket and hat, was interviewed by the Pueblo Chieftain newspaper. You can see the wonderful photo and article that appeared on the front page of the Metro section on March 19th at http://www.chieftain.com/news/local/learning-the-american-way/article_7221cc1e-51da-11e0-bed8-001cc4c002e0.html. Janissa joined them that evening.
Dr. Kim Dernovsek spent the better part of the next day teaching Matlabe and Janissa about HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. Using the dramatic reduction of HIV in Uganda as an example, she explained why abstinence and being faithful to one spouse is the only real option for reducing the epidemic rate in Lesotho. That was a real eye opener, and she converted Janissa from being a believer in "safe sex" with condoms to an abstinence and be faithful advocate.
Following that, Matlabe had a chance to meet and talk with Jack Wilson and Sherrie Howey of the Foundation for International Professional Exchange (FIPE), the people who paid for his trip. They all shared a wonderful dinner at the Dernovsek's home.
The next day, Matlabe, Andrew, and Janissa spent going over Laptops to Lesotho business and making plans for 2011 and beyond. They had lunch at a wonderful Mexican restaurant. In the afternoon, they toured the Dernovsek's doctors' office and downtown Pueblo, including a memorial to Congressional Medal of Honor Winners, the River Walk and all it's beautiful statues, and the national headquarters of Professional Bull Riders with its bronze statue of a bull rider out front. The highlight of the afternoon, however, was taking Matlabe through an automatic car wash.
Saturday morning, they held the annual meeting for Laptops to Lesotho, with Sarah Gardner participating by phone. (More on this in a coming blog post.) Following the meeting, Janissa flew back to Idaho and Matlabe spent a leisurely day with the Dernovseks.
On Sunday, he attended a Catholic service with the Dernovseks, then was transferred into Sherrie Howey's capable care, starting with coffee and lunch at the Accension Episcopalian Church. News from Sherrie is that she took him to the Dollar Store, which is now his favorite place. She also introduced him to dying Easter Eggs and blowing bubbles.
Sherrie's daughter, Jennifer, a teacher in North Carolina, is working with Matlabe by phone to set up pen pals between her students and the students at Nohana Primary. Until we get internet established at Nohana Primary School, it will be by snail mail, but what a wonderful experience for both classes!
Matlabe has two more jam-packed weeks in Pueblo, including among other things, a tour of a goat-milking operation, a flight over the countryside in a small private plane, and more school visits.
We would like to thank FIPE, Jack Wilson, and Sherrie Howey for all their hard work to make this wonderful experience possible.