My dear friends, one of the greatest privileges of serving as U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Lesotho is traveling around the country to meet Basotho in the places they live, study, and work. As I tour the country – Ke Hahlaula Lesotho – I’d like to invite you along to share the journey by reading this account or looking at the photos on our Embassy’s Flickr album here. It is a true honor for me to see firsthand the partnership between Basotho and Americans that are felt in every district as we work together to build capacity across the Mountain Kingdom.
Let me tell you about my first trip to Katse Dam in Thaba-Tseka and to Mokhotlong camp town. Our first stop was the Sanlei trout farm, an American-owned business producing export grade 1 trout. It was wonderful to meet so many talented Basotho working for a U.S. company that is committed to the community and the environment, keeping its eye on sustainable development as they look to expand. I also visited Katse Dam itself, where again I was so impressed to meet with Basotho who are running the entire operation. We even went inside the mountain where the engineers showed us how the Dam functions. While in Mokhotlong, I had the opportunity to visit the future site of the Polihali dam project. Again, I was so impressed with the expertise of the Basotho engineers who are working on this enormous project and with their commitment to ensuring the project is executed in the best manner possible.
In both districts, I visited some of our amazing Peace Corps volunteers. As U.S. Ambassador, nothing gives me greater pride than meeting these young Americans who are upholding our decades-long tradition of partnership by working side by side with Basotho all across the country. In this country, our volunteers work primarily in the health and education fields, as well as in HIV/AIDS related programs. In Thaba-Tseka, I stopped in to see a volunteer teaching at a local school. Like her fellow teachers, this volunteer must cover rough terrain on foot every day just to reach their classrooms. It was so moving to see the bond between the volunteer, her colleagues, and their students. And it just so happened, it was her birthday, so we celebrated together! In Mokhotlong, I visited another pair of volunteers, both of whom are working with local organizations dedicated to caring for vulnerable children and adolescents.
Last but not least, I was delighted to visit Ts’ila Nts’o government primary school in Mokhotlong district. In 2015, the school received funding from the U.S. Ambassador’s Special Self-Help Fund. This award allowed for the construction of two new classrooms. But this community, dedicated to the education of its children, turned that grant into four classrooms by working together with the community council and partnering with the Government of Lesotho to build an additional set of classrooms as well. I was deeply honored and inspired by this community – and especially grateful to the three gentlemen who escorted us on horseback to the school.
As you look at these photos, you may have noticed something about me right away – I love horses and horse riding. It is a beloved past time that I bring with me from my upbringing and home state of Texas. I am thrilled to share my passion with so many Basotho and look forward to riding alongside you across this beautiful country.
Ambassador Rebecca Gonzales