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Meet 12 yr old Rethabile as he tells us about life in Lesotho.

My name is Rethabile Thamae. I am twelve years old and live on the continent of Africa, in a country called Lesotho. I live in Semonkong, which is a rural area surrounded by mountains. That is the place I was born, where I have lived all my life.

I have four brothers and four sisters. Two of my brothers live away from home. Matee is studying at the secondary school in Lesotho's capital, Maseru. As Maseru is so far away he boards there.

Our village is a great place to live. I have very many friends here and there is plenty to do and to see. The river Maletsunyane runs close by, and Southern Africa's highest waterfall is on the outskirts of Semonkong. This attraction draws many sightseers to the area.

There are many things to see in the village itself. We have shops which sell soap, tea, paraffin, sugar, candles, drinks and sweets. Most of the food we need from day to day is grown at home, and everyone has a small piece of land on which they grow vegetables and keep animals.

We have both a primary and a secondary school. Local children walk to school every day, some travelling over ten kilometres a day to receive their education.

We have hotels, a hairdressing salon, a bus station and many businesses in the village. Despite all this, farming is the most important industry here. In Semonkong we even have a statue in honour of our boys who work as shepherds, as this is such important work.

We have a shared water tap in the village, and this is a great place for the girls to have a natter. Carrying water to the house is hard work though, but at least they don't have to go all the way to the river to fetch water, which is what has to be done in so many areas in Lesotho.

Sometimes I have to help my sisters fetch and carry water. It is very heavy work, and we need so much for eight of us, every day. We need water to wash and to prepare our food, and in order to keep diseases away. We also have to carry water for the crops. So there is a lot of carrying to be done.

Rather than carry water to the houses in order to wash clothes, the village women take the clothes to the river to wash them. This saves quite a bit of carrying work. The river banks are bubbling with the chattering of women as they scrub the clothes and put them out to dry on the rocks.

At the moment we live in a traditional house. It is called a rondhabole. The walls are made of stones which were collected by my father and his brothers from the surrounding mountains. My mother and her friends prepared the mortar and prepared the soil which was used to build the house.

As our family is quite big, we have more than one house to live in. One is used for cooking, and this is also where the girls sleep. My parents sleep in another rondhabole, and this is where visitors are welcomed. We boys have our own house where we sleep.

I am in Class 6 of primary school. There are seven classes in all and then we have to sit an exam to see whether we are good enough to go on to secondary school. This is my second year in Class 6. I failed my end of year exams and so I couldn't move up a class last year. I am working very hard and I hope I will pass this year.

There are seventy children in my class, but the classroom is very small. We are very lucky as we have desks and benches to sit on in the class. School starts at eight in the morning, but that isn't too early, as we all get up very early here. The sun is our most important clock and we get up with the dawn. It is only the lazy who get up late.

It only takes me ten minutes to walk to school, but some of the children in my class walk for about an hour and a half each morning and afternoon in order to get their education. We all wear a school uniform, which is blue. I try to look after it, as it is quite expensive to buy. I enjoy school, especially mathematics, but it is dinner time that I enjoy best. This is when I get a chance to play football with my friends.

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