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Lesotho, a land with a big smile

Lesotho, a land with a big smile enclosed in too narrow borders to release its strong energy. For me this is the sentence that best describes my experience in this beautiful country. I’m an architect, I’m from Italy and it was my first time in Africa.

The choice to fly to Lesotho and be part of the in loco fellowship came very spontaneously thanks to a dear architect friend, Luca Astorri, for whom Africa is his second home. I didn’t ask questions, I didn’t know what to expect, I trusted him and the joy on his face while speaking about it. It was enough for me to buy the ticket.

Clarissa Orsini with rise’s Founder, Daniela Gusman and Program Director, Luca Astorri

Once arrived, I was welcomed with open arms by a world completely unknown to me. It was not easy at all to have the courage to let myself free to fall in this great and profound embrace. After the first moment of dizziness the emotions overwhelmed me, everything was impregnated of joy and suffering in the same moment, I didn’t know how to behave.

Ha Sekantsi, Community Meeting

It is necessary to get rid of many mental patterns and preconceptions in order to be in tune with this country and make a tangible contribution. It wasn’t easy at first but the guys from the fellowship were wonderful in helping me with this process. Being in contact with them I realized that it is not important where you come from and how you are used to doing things, there is always something new to learn and there is always a different way to teach others, there is no right or wrong approach.  The only thing that matters is that you have to be open to challenges and not be scared, this is the only universal language and for me it was the only language to communicate with them and feel part of something much bigger then myself. It seems simple and for me it was, but only thanks to the people I met who have always transmitted love and understanding towards me. The first few weeks were just about this: teaching and learning.

Participatory Design Workshop with IDAL – Intellectual Disabilities & Autism Lesotho

As an architect I taught them what they needed to know at that time, we followed them step-by-step to convey the important notions and procedures to the world of work. As wonderful human beings they taught me the practicality of life, the ability to always (almost) smile, despite the surrounding conditions.

They are participating in  this fellowship because they have great faith in the world and they want to make it better with their contribution for themselves, their families and their country. When they speak about something, they never do so in the singular form, the speech always includes their loved ones and their community in which they welcomed me and they made me feel part of it and I will never stop to thank them for all of this.

in loco fellows 2019 and Clarissa

I feel really grateful to all this.I came back to Italy with a great joy that accompanies me every day. Even in difficult times, thinking back to Lesotho reorders priorities and makes fatigue much more bearable. It is a country that has also given me incredible landscape memories but without the people who live there it would not be the same.

Foudnations at IDAL Centre

I left from there with the certainty that I would come back and I would like to come back soon to be really useful for whatever is needed. One of the most important lessons I have learned is that, every now and then it is good to leave the emotions aside and bring yourself  into the capacity of being practical, pragmatic, doing what is needed where and when it is needed without asking too many questions, and making yourself completely available.

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