Maseru, Lesotho, can claim the title of ‘Southernmost Point I’ve Ever Visited’ and Mokhotlong the ‘Highest I’ve Ever Lived’. The next year will find me nestled among the peaks of Lesotho, the kingdom encircled by South Africa, and working for Touching Tiny Lives, or TTL.
Lesotho has the third-highest HIV/AIDS rate in the world (after Swaziland and Botswana) at a whopping 23.6%. South Africa, in fourth, has the world’s greatest number of people living with HIV.
As with many illnesses compromising the immune system (influenza or malaria, for example), the hardest hit demographics are the youngest and the oldest. Lesotho has a harsh-but-beautiful environment, high unemployment, and a very low population growth rate (0.34%). Fatal diseases like HIV/AIDS further hinder chances of survival.
TTL assists the most vulnerable children in the Mokhotlong and Thaba-Tseka districts suffering from malnutrition – a critical effect of HIV/AIDS and complicated by rural poverty. All TTL clients are enrolled under the age of five.
TTL is committed to supporting these children even after graduation from the safe home, where the most severe cases of malnourished children are brought and nursed to health. The staff provide nutritional education for each child’s designated caregiver, ensure proper administration of life-saving medication, regularly deliver food to maintain growth and development, and monitor the child’s general health progress.
Over the next year I will provide administrative support to the staff of the TTL safe home. Already, I have seen some of the devastating physical impacts of HIV/AIDS and malnutrition on the children at TTL. Already, too, I have seen the astounding recovery of a few truly terrible cases. When I leave this Kingdom in the Sky, I will have seen and learned so much.
Meanwhile, I look forward to the journey.