Author: helplesotho

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Renewed Vision for Lesotho’s Forgotten Caregivers

By Stephanie Vizi, Help Lesotho Intern Forty-one grandparents have restored vision thanks to free cataract surgery in Lesotho. With over 300,000 children left orphaned by AIDS in Lesotho, grandmothers have filled the role of parents and guardians and are essential to the survival of the tiny mountain kingdom’s next generation of young people. Help Lesotho’s Grandmother Support Program provides relief and support to grandmothers and their partners to build hope and resilience while strengthening their families and improving the lives of the vulnerable children and orphans in their care. Beneficiaries from Help Lesotho’s Grandmother Support Program traveled to Maluti Adventist Hospital in Mapoteng, Lesotho from rural villages to receive pro bono cataract surgery funded by individual Canadian donors and HelpAge International. From Cataract to Crystal Clear At Maluti Adventist hospital, surgery begins with a prayer under the care of Dr. Carlos Gutierrez, a medical missionary from Texas, U.S.A, who explained a cataract is the clouding of the eye’s natural lens, which lies behind the iris and the pupil. Cataracts are the most common cause of …

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Help Lesotho celebrates 10 years in the Mountain Kingdom

By Stephanie Vizi, Help Lesotho Intern International Women’s Day 2015 was celebrated in full force at Help Lesotho’s Hlotse Centre on March 13. Help Lesotho invited the King and Queen of Lesotho dignitaries and many of the organization’s beneficiaries to celebrate 10 years of empowering girls and women and engaging boys in Lesotho. In 2004, Canadian professor, Dr. Peg Herbert, was encouraged visit Lesotho by one of her students, a Mosotho woman named, Sr. Alice Mputsoe, now a local principal. Sr. Alice took Herbert to the Highlands of the mountainous country where she saw entire villages decimated by HIV and to the lowlands where child-headed households had become the norm. Herbert saw the need to build an organization to help the vulnerable orphans, youth and grandmothers left behind in the scourge of the AIDS epidemic in Lesotho, and Help Lesotho was born. Help Lesotho is founded on the tenants of education, leadership development and psychosocial support. It strives to create a sustainable future free of AIDS and poverty for the Basotho and in addition each …

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Eye Care for Lesotho’s Caregivers

By Stephanie Vizi, Help Lesotho Intern Grandmothers shoulder the burden of the AIDS epidemic in Lesotho. The devastation caused by HIV/AIDS in Lesotho has left close to three hundred thousand children orphaned. The thousands of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) in Lesotho are now under the care of grandmothers, whether their own or someone else’s. As their own health is failing, many grandmothers are forced to work informal jobs, such as selling their garden produce on the street, to provide for the babies and young children in their care and to send older children to high school. This is in addition to gardening, cleaning, cooking and raising animals. Eye Care for the Elderly Help Lesotho partnered with Maluti Adventist Hospital in Lesotho to facilitate an eye care blitz for 250 grandmothers attending Help Lesotho’s Grandmother Program. The service is also offered to the grandmothers’ partners. Last week, 62 elderly people received eye examinations, only three had accessed eye care services prior to the blitz. The optometrist from Maluti Adventist Hospital explained that the elderly do …

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Marching for Change in Rural Lesotho

In late November, two groups of highly stigmatized and often voiceless members of Basotho society marched for change. On Nov. 26, a group of over 100 shepherds took to the streets of Butha Buthe, a rural district in Lesotho, to speak out about gender based violence. The shepherds or herd boys as they are more commonly known, were part of Help Lesotho’s Herd Boy Program, a six-month training which empowers the young men with the knowledge and coping strategies for positive behavioral and social change, including gender equity awareness and HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment. The advocacy march aimed to raise awareness about violence against women and girls. Gender based violence is a growing issue in Lesotho, but the exact number of cases is unknown because victims are often fearful of coming forward. Domestic violence is a commonly accepted practice. The herd boys held signs high in the air, which read: “Stop woman and child abuse” and “Women have the right to say no to sex”. One young man kept stopping to educate passersby about the …

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The “New” Lesotho

Written by Help Lesotho Intern, Stephanie Vizi There are two Lesothos; one old and one new. Traveling to rural Lesotho is like going back in time. Horses and donkeys outnumber the cars for means of transportation, few modern technologies exist with the exception of cell phones, which are relied on for their cheap and mobile use, and many people live in modest homes or traditional rondavel huts without electricity or running water. A trip to the capital city of Maseru is a stark contrast. There you can peruse shiny shopping malls, visit government buildings or the King’s Palace, and play tennis at the club. Help Lesotho founder and executive director, Peg Herbert’s new book, A Girl in Lesotho, follows the true story of Nthati (En-tha-ty), a 12-year-old girl living in the former. Nthati and her twin sister, Tisi (Tee-see) take us through their daily routine in the mountainous district of Thaba Tseka, “Because we are girls, Tisi and I help with chores in the morning. When we come home from school we must fetch the water, …

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Be Brave: Lesotho’s youth standing up against gender based violence

Despite the end of the international campaign for 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence, a group of youth in Lesotho have responded to live out this call to action 365 days of the year. Each December, beneficiaries of Help Lesotho’s Child Sponsorship Program pack their bags and head to Help Lesotho headquarters in a town called Hlotse, for a five-day overnight leadership camp.  Child Sponsorship supports children in rural communities who have no other source of funds to pay their prohibitive high school fees; it is the only option for continuing school for many children. The majority of sponsored children are girls due to their increased vulnerability to poverty and HIV/AIDS. The theme of the Leadership Camp 2014 was Be Brave: Stand up, speak out against gender based violence. The camp coincided with the United Nations’ international campaign, 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence, which runs from Nov. 25-Dec.10 each year. For most children, attending camp is the highlight of their year. They spend their days making crafts, playing sports and learning …

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Girl4ce: Developing Lesotho’s Leaders of Tomorrow

Thirty-five preteen girls sit in a semi-circle as a grade 12 girl answers their questions on rape. The room goes silent as one girl asks, “Why do men rape?” The facilitator takes a deep breath and says, “Many men lack sexual health education and women are regarded as weak and subordinate in Lesotho, so men believe they have all the power to make decisions.” The young girls belong to Girl4ce, a program aimed at empowering and educating vulnerable village girls in rural Lesotho. The program is led by high school aged girls trained by Help Lesotho to be leaders in their communities. The facilitator follows up by asking, “What does a healthy romantic relationship look like?” The girls offer words like, “trust”, “loving”, “honest”, “compassion”, and “communication”. Girl4ce was created to empower girls with knowledge to fight for gender equity in Lesotho. The facilitators don’t sugar coat the grim reality faced by many Basotho women and girls; they speak openly about oral sex, condoms, non-consensual sexual relations and how to report rape. “What is consent?” …

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The Necessity of a Gendered Approach to HIV/AIDS

Written By: Marie-Claire Klassen  Malilapa Mate says that if you had seen her five months ago, she wouldn’t be the vivacious, smiling young mother she is today. When the twenty-one year old became pregnant two years ago, there was a problem—she had no husband. Without the security of marriage she faced discrimination and harassment in her community. “Before I came to Help Lesotho I was hiding. I was afraid to go into town because I worried I might see one of my former schoolmates and face their judgment.” – Malilapa Mate Help Lesotho, an organization working in the tiny ‘Mountain Kingdom’ of Lesotho, started a Young Mothers Program to empower women like Malilapa with the life skills they need to keep their babies AIDS free and promote a culture in which HIV/AIDS is no longer stigmatized. The impetus for this initiative stems from the brutal effects HIV/AIDS has had on the Basotho nation.  Lesotho currently has the third highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in the world. While the overall percentage of HIV positive individuals has dropped …