The Mountain Kingdom
Lesotho is a democratic, sovereign and independent country with the unique characteristic of being totally surrounded by its neighbor, the Republic of South Africa.
The former Basutoland was renamed the Kingdom of Lesotho upon independence from the UK in 1966. In 1993 after 23 years of military rule, a new constitution was implemented leaving the King without any executive authority and proscribing him from engaging in political affairs. In 1998, violent protests and a military mutiny following a contentious election prompted a brief but bloody South African military intervention. Constitutional reforms have since restored political stability; peaceful parliamentary elections were held in 2002. However Lesotho is one of three remaining monarchies in Africa.
(Source: CIA – The World Factbook)
Because of its altitude, Lesotho remains cooler throughout the year than other regions at the same latitude. Most of the rain falls as summer thunderstorms. Maseru and surrounding lowlands often reach 30 °C (86 °F) in summer. Winters can be cold with the lowlands getting down to −7 °C (19 °F) and the highlands to −18 °C (0 °F) at times. Snow is common in the highlands between May and September; the higher peaks can experience snowfalls year-round.
Issues Facing Lesotho
With 1 in 4 adults suffering from HIV/AIDS, Lesotho ranks 2nd worldwide in HIV prevalence. The epidemic has devastated Lesotho’s most productive age group, leaving children vulnerable and often orphaned. There are currently 150,000 AIDS-related orphans in Lesotho, including as many as 18,000 in the highland districts served by TTL. Children are often left to be cared for by family members with very few means, which contributes to why 1 in every 9 children die before reaching their 5th birthday in Lesotho.
TTL was founded in 2004 in response to this very issue. It is the only organization exclusively dedicated to caring for orphaned and vulnerable children in Mokhotlong and Thaba Tseka districts. It is a huge burden to carry but, without us, these kiddos would be left with nothing. We work tirelessly to support these children and their families through providing health, nutritional and developmental care, whilst also empowering the caregivers to provide a better future for their children. TTL started by serving 4 clients a year, we now serve almost 400. We have grown immensely since we started, covering more ground and attending to more clients every month. We remain flexible and prepared to meet any changes and developments that arise along the way.
Food insecurity has plagued Lesotho for many years. Land degradation and climate change, particularly persistent drought, flooding, and early frost, have caused low agricultural productivity in Lesotho exacerbating food insecurity and extreme poverty. With only 7% of the land arable and a huge swath of the working population wiped out due to HIV/AIDS, there is a huge need for TTL to help evade child malnutrition in Mokhotlong and Thaba-Tseka. National statistics indicate that each year as many as 2,500 children suffer from malnutrition in Mokhotlong district, with 500 of those children becoming severely malnourished. In Thaba Tseka district, those numbers are 3,500 and 700, respectively. TTL’s Outreach distributes monthly protein-rich food packages to supplement children’s daily food intake. We also encourage families to grow their own vegetables, by providing them with 5 different types of seeds and the means to build their own keyhole garden. Also, on graduation from our program, we are hoping to soon be able to provide the family with 4 chickens (three hens and one rooster). The seeds and the chickens will aid the sustainability of our program, empowering the families to provide for themselves and potentially make a bit of money through the production of eggs, chicks and excess vegetables. We are in the middle of applying for funding to include chickens in the graduation package.
TTL is run entirely by local people to contribute towards reducing Lesotho’s 25% unemployment rate. We are a community NGO run by Basotho, for Basotho and our reputation in the remote villages hinges on our ability to relate and communicate with its members. We currently employ 30 staff members, all of whom were born and raised in Lesotho and we look forward to many years of encouraging local talent to get involved with our programs.