In September, while I was in Lesotho, I received this email:
I’m a frequent peruser of your blog but haven’t had much time for blog reading lately. My husband and I have been working our asses off to get the paperwork together to adopt two little boys from Lesotho. I was amazed when I clicked on your blog this morning and saw where you were. We’ve not seen our sons faces yet. We heard about two little boys (one who is HIV positive, one who has vision issues, both under the age of 3), knew they were ours even though it’s foolish, and started working on getting all the paperwork together. My fool heart hopes that one of the children you’ll take a picture of will be one of my boys because I’m aching to know their faces, but I know that’s unlikely. Still, I hope.
I’ve been home, now, for a few of days, and I think – I think – that I’ve recovered from travel fatigue – 28 hours it took me to get home from Lesotho – and jet-lag and the brain fog that comes from traveling halfway around the world and back in less than a week. But I haven’t quite recovered from what I can only describe as soul-lag: the existential exhaustion that settles upon you when you’ve experienced something that changes you so profoundly that your psyche has trouble catching up to your transformed heart and soul.
I have soul lag. It’s getting in the way of writing anything meaningful or informative about everything that I saw, everything that I learned, everything that changed me last week. It’s clouding my mind and tangling my thoughts and every time that I sit down to write I am faced with a screen that demands, now, something better than before, something worthy of the stories that I heard and the stories that I was part of, and as I stare at that screen something inside me sags and crumples. I tell myself that it will all come, in time, as my heart and soul and psyche reconcile themselves to each other and to the clock of my here and now, and as I find the words to do those stories justice, but my self is not entirely convinced. My self is also not a very good listener, but that’s not really the problem here.
I’m writing this post from a hotel room in Maseru, Lesotho. Lesotho, in case you didn’t know, is deep in the southern-most part of Africa, land-locked by South Africa. It is, you might think, an unlikely place for a blogger to be. After all, what do bloggers have to do with aid in Africa? But you’d be wrong. A blogger can have a lot to do with aid in Africa, or any other kind of social good. I’m here for some very good social media reasons.
I’m here because I’m visiting some on-the-ground projects that are funded by Born HIV Free, a program of the Global Fund, and I’m visiting these projects because Born HIV Free and the Global Fund want to raise awareness, and who better to raise awareness than bloggers? Who better than bloggers to take the real stories of what such projects look like, of what they mean to real people, and not just the posters and soundbites and late-night infomercials with Sally Struthers, and become part of those stories and tell them in real voices? Who better than storytellers, personal storytellers, coming at the story with their hearts and telling and showing their communities what it all looks like and sounds like and feels like?