For two months, TTL hosted Bianca Garcia, a graduate student from the Notre Dame Eck Institute for Global Health, as she conducted research in rural Lesotho. This is the second of a 3-part blog series of Bianca’s research and reflections.
Lesson #1: Time is not always of the essence
While this does not always apply just to research, here in Lesotho things move a little bit slower. You should be willing to wait a little while and have plenty of good reading material. Whether it was recruiting with the TTL Outreach team, waiting for the driver in the morning to take us to conduct surveys, or simply just ordering pizza from Mokhotlong Hotel, things just take a bit longer.
Although frustrating at times, it taught me to be more patient and, ironically, to better manage my time, doing other things while waiting. Also maybe you just tell your driver to arrive thirty minutes earlier than intended or order that pizza at 4:30pm instead of 6pm.
Lesson #2: Lesotho has some amazing off-road drivers (and I am not being sarcastic)
They are fantastic. Often I would look ahead to see a steep hillside complete with jagged rocks and a stream flowing through it and I would get ready to disembark so I could hoof it the rest of the way. I was always surprised when the driver would put it in gear and we would begin the slow and steady crawl up the hillside. All the while the driver would keep a steady hand regardless of the bumpiness or incline of the road.
Lesson #3:Reliable walking shoes are essential
Surveying caregivers in the villages of Mokhotlong district requires a lot of walking. If you do not have a contact number or other way to reach someone by word of mouth, then you will be traveling to their village and hope they have not gone to the fields or into town yet that day.
Also, despite my comment earlier some of the roads are all but impassable except for on foot.
Lesson #4: Make friends along the way
It has been a great experience getting to meet so many wonderful people. The caregivers I have surveyed have inspired me. I returned to the TTL campus each evening with stories – some difficult, but many more that I will keep as fun, fond memories of my time here.
Lesson #5: Play with babies
A great thing about staying at the Touching Tiny Lives campus is getting to spend time with the adorable and fun-loving kids of the Safe Home. These children have continuously put a smile on my face and have brought me much joy, and they have pushed me to work hard and put out quality results from my research.
The TTLF Fellow is a representative of the North American organisation The Tiny Lives Foundation. Based for one year in Mokhotlong, Lesotho, the TTLF Fellow serves in an administrative support capacity for the Basotho charity TTL.