The disease is particularly evident in the border villages near Maputsoe, where Action Lesotho operates, because of high transient population. As a result many children are orphans being cared by often elderly relatives or older children. Malnutrition is also widespread with many people surviving solely on ‘papa’, a low nutrient dish made from the staple crop maize.
HIV/AIDS Acute Treatment & Care
Action Lesotho operates a programme for severely ill home-based clients who would have virtually no chance of survival without intervention. Our Malimpho programme provides regular nursing and nutrition to 40 men, women and children. They are mostly HIV positive with nutrition levels too low to allow them to benefit from the anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) which the government provides for free. The Action Lesotho nurse M’e Futho visits each client every month to:
• Assess their nutritional requirements & deliver a basic food package
• Supply any necessary supplements (e.g. extra protein) until their condition stabilises
• Supervise compliance with taking medication and other health advice
• Provide crisis counselling and support
The Action Lesotho nurse receives support and advice from a GP in Ireland, Dr Diane Foord, who is also a member of the Board of Directors.
Sick clients often have other family members who may be less acutely ill but are also struggling to survive. Action Lesotho therefore works with the whole family unit to facilitate access to necessary services, offered either by Government or NGOs. For example, dependent children may be enrolled on one of Action Lesotho’s weekend feeding & development programmes.
The Path to Recovery
With the care and support clients receive from Action Lesotho, 8 to 10 patients are recovering sufficiently to exit the program each year. To ensure they can thrive independently, each client is supported to generate an income, either by starting their own micro-enterprise or by obtaining employment locally. As part of this support, Action Lesotho provides a programme of training and financial help and/or start-up stock for a small enterprise e.g. selling fruit. As soon as someone exits the program, the vacancy is immediately filled by another seriously ill patient, such is the demand for our services.
Programs for Orphans and Vulnerable Children
We provide the following services to improve the nutrition, well-being and educational prospects of children living in the neighbourhood of our Ha Maqele community centre:
• Breakfast Club for 70 + children who would otherwise go to school hungry.
• Pre-school program for 10-20 children.
• Homework Club for 30-40 children.
• Week-end meals & activities for 30-40 children who would otherwise go hungry.
• Program of activities, academic support and meals during school holidays.
• Out-reach delivery of monthly food parcels to 50+ children who cannot attend our Centre.
In addition to providing meals for the orphans and vulnerable children, we use every engagement with them as an opportunity to improve their life chances by encouraging recreational, artistic and academic activities, and by applying the four “Aistear” themes of Exploring & Thinking; Identity & Belonging; Communication; and Well-being. This approach is showing results in better behaviour, improved school performance and more self-confidence among the children.
To help make a long-term difference, Action Lesotho also works with the children’s carers, helping them access important services, including Government Social Services, and provides assistance and training to improve their access to employment or self-employment through our Skills & Training programmes.
There were no special centres of education for children with disabilities until Action Lesotho partnered with the Sisters of Mary Help of Christians to set up the Ferrando Centre for differently-able children in the grounds of St Luke’s Mission, Maputsoe. At the centre the more able children can access formal education. For example, sixteen-year-old Teboho became the first child in Lesotho with cerebral palsy to gain his primary certificate. Every child at the centre receives a tailor-made programme of physiotherapy, speech therapy and special education. Action Lesotho is not involved in the day-to-day running of the Centre, but Nurse Futho calls regularly to check on the children’s health.