Lesa Marie Hatten Sanftleben
7 February 1955 – 30 October 1984
The tapestry of Lesa’s life was woven with many fibers, as she filled her twenty- nine years with a full heart. Lesa, the second of five children, grew up in Grand Blanc, Michigan. She was a gentle and giving child who loved art and music; and the joy of life could be found in her smile. Lesa played the violin in the Flint Youth Symphony during her school years and continued to enjoy playing in Chamber Groups during her college years. You could count on her to volunteer her talents to work on a project or tutor a child. Lesa graduated from Monterey Peninsula College in CA with an Associates in Science degree and the University of Minnesota with a degree in Civil Engineering, specializing in environmental engineering and water resources.
After graduation, Lesa joined the PC because she had so many gifts in her life and wanted to share her talents and skill with others. Lesa was assigned to Lesotho, situated in the center of Southern Africa. In this “Kingdom in the Sky” it was necessary to learn some of the Sesotho language and become familiar with the customs of the country. Lesa taped language lessons and songs sung by children. Lesa’s position in Lesotho was district water engineer, which encompassed working on wells to bring water to five small villages. Lesa was assigned to a house in a remote area, but had a truck to drive to the villages. Many people came to her home asking for food, money or goods. Lesa hired a man to dig an area for a vegetable garden. He came several times for work and pay. On October 30, 1984, when Lesa came home after work, he was there with another man. They killed her and ransacked her home, gathering all they could to sell.
The two men fled the country selling items they took from Lesa’s home. Within a few months, they were arrested and held for a trial. The trial took place in the summer of 1986. We received a summary of the trial. One man, Kopano Ntisane was freed and the second man Hlomelang Nkoja received fifteen years in prison. Last year in 2003, we received word that the man who killed our daughter was released from prison and killed a village woman. Nkoja is again held for trial.
A celebration of Lesa’s life was held at a memorial service in Lesotho. U.S.S.L Abbott, Ambassador in Lesotho, and Mimi Austin, Country Director in Lesotho, accompanied Lesa’s flag-draped casket home and remained for her funeral mass. Among family, relatives, neighbors, school chums and dear friends, M. N. Tau, Ambassador, Lesotho; Bereng Qhobela, 3rd Secretary Lesotho Embassy; Mr. Luis del Rio, Director of the inter American Region, U. S. Peace Corps; Carole Mallary, Peace Corps in Kenya; and Bonnie Sue Baker also in the Peace Corps, joined us as we mingled our tears and thanked our God for giving us Lesa to love and she us.
The threads of Lesa’s childhood, as a scholar, a married woman, a volunteer in the PC and her death are tightly woven with the people she touched in so many ways. A small street in Hinesville, GA is named for her, and across the world in some manner her memory continues to witness her life.
On our family room wall hangs a tapestry given to us by Lesa’s PC friends and the people in the village in which she died. The tapestry is made of homespun mohair from their animals. Woven in the tapestry are their homes, men herding goats and children play about as women carry water in clay pots on their heads. In the center of this weaving is a hand pump well with blue water flowing to the ground.
We continue to belong to the PC family who knew and worked with Lesa in Lesotho. They have included us in their newsletters and gatherings. In addition we have met others that have lost a cherished child. Life’s shuttle moves to and fro daily weaving peace in our hearts.
Lesa’s Mom and Dad
Bob and Clare Ann Hatten
11396 Grand Oak Drive
Grand Blanc MI 48439-1219
If you are a friend or family member of this volunteer and would like to contribute a picture, a story, or something different, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.