Lesotho is a beautiful place with its rolling fields, volcanic plateaus and rugged mountain ranges. The best part about Lesotho, however, is its people. Communities are tight knit and foreigners are greeted with warmth and a friendly smile.
Lesotho is also going through a big challenge: an HIV/AIDS epidemic that has affected almost every family in the country. Lesotho has the third highest HIV prevalence rate in the world, which means more than 23% of people — roughly one in four — are living with HIV. And girls and young women are being affected the most.
These numbers are even more devastating knowing that all it takes to stop the transmission of HIV is one pill a day: a triple-drug combination tablet that can reduce the viral load in a person’s blood to an almost undetectable level, hence reducing the risk of transmission significantly.
Breaking the Cycle of Orphans Left Behind
“Every day more than 1,800 babies are born with HIV in Sub Saharan Africa, because their parents are infected. And when their parents die, because they have no access to high-tech medication, these kids become orphans,” says Philip Maher.
Philip is the Director of Communications and Development for Bracelet of Hope, a charity committed to ending HIV/AIDS in Lesotho. Currently, Bracelet of Hope is raising $40,000 for a new clinic in Lesotho.
According to Philip, the clinic will serve the country’s HIV/AIDS patients by giving them…
- access to the medication they need,
- providing holistic care, including nutrition counselling and psychosocial treatment,
- as well as addressing concerns around food security and employment.
“The land has been donated to us, so we know where the clinic is going to be. We also know that this isn’t going to be a place where we ferry through people from the West. It’ll be self-supporting and run by local medical professionals.”
The new clinic will provide regular treatment for HIV to an additional 10,000 people and is an important step in making Bracelet of Hope’s vision for Lesotho — “to be HIV/AIDS free” — come true.
A New Home for Orphaned Children
Besides providing much needed medical care, Bracelet of Hope also helps orphaned children to find new homes.
There are around 200,000 children in Lesotho who have lost one or both parents. Sometimes family members step into the role of parent, but with so many orphaned kids traditional support systems often fail to cope.
13-year old Makhauta is one of those children.
She has lost both her parents to AIDS. Today, she lives on a mountain in Lesotho, in a foster home with her biological brothers and three other foster children.Bracelet of Hope supports the entire foster home and provides Makhauta with schooling, housing, medical attention and a loving foster mother.
“I visited all the foster homes we have and met every kid. Their stories are often quite tragic and involve homelessness or abuse, because these kids weren’t protected by a guardian or parent to look after them,” Philip says.
“It’s amazing to see what a difference the foster homes make for these kids. They have fun, they are playing, they go to school, just like regular kids.”
In an ideal world, however, kids like Makhauta wouldn’t have to lose their parents in the first place, Philip believes.
“That’s why it’s so important to give people access to medication. If we prevent the spread of this disease we can break the cycle of orphans being left behind.”
Help Bracelet of Hope build a new clinic in Lesotho. The clinic will provide 10,000 HIV/AIDS patients with access to the medication they need to survive. Right now, every dollar you give will be matched to double your donation.
Photo Credit: ©Philip Maher