As I write, Hilary and I are in Thaba Tseka. The morning light is creeping over the mountains outside my window. I hear a rooster and people chatting as they walk about their business. Someone is whistling. In the distance a young girl carries a huge container of water on her head. I can almost feel the morning dew on her bare feet. Another day dawns.
I visited the palace last week to see the King and Queen. Her Majesty came in first so that we could have a few moments alone. It was fun to greet each other and reminisce about her recent trip to Canada. I was delighted to hear that the Princess had a marvelous time. When His Majesty joined us, they both perused the photo books I brought for the Queen and Princess as mementos of their time with us. As always, they were lovely and interested.
Their support has meant a great deal to me, to our beneficiaries and to our donors. I am delighted to confirm that they both will be attending our 10th Anniversary Celebration on March 13 in Hlotse. It is very unusual that they both attend an event and we are honoured.
For years we have struggled to help the grannies with their various eye problems.
So many have glaucoma, cataracts and serious eye infections. Many need glasses and surgery. It has been a real challenge but our Country Director, Shadrack, has finally found a way to help them with the support of some medical missionaries. These ophthalmologists are holding clinics in three locations to examine our grannies and their husbands. Several grannies came a week early – dear souls!
However, last week on the appointed day, of the 62 people (50 grannies; 12 husbands) who patiently waited in the Centre to be examined:
- 30 needed glasses
- 9 required mediation for infections
- 20 will require surgery, some urgently.
For the latter, time can be of the essence or they will go blind. We do not have the funds to help them. On average, the surgery is $165 per person. Rounding it up to include their transportation, we need CAD$3,500 or $175 per granny. Again, this is one of three groups of grandmothers who will have this precious chance to regain or retain their sight. If this is an average, the total cost will be $10,500. We will prioritize the urgent ones first as funds allow. If this is something you can help with for one granny or more, or if you know a service club, book club or association who could, please let us know. One imagines how much harder life will be for them and their orphans if they lose the rest of their sight.
Many of you know that my dear friend, Sr. Alice, was in a truly horrible car accident 14 months ago in which one nun died and Sr. Alice was badly injured. Suffice it to say that she now has a reconstructed cheek and jaw, new teeth, and pins in her head, arm and hand.
It was pure joy to see her this time doing well – back at her job as Principal of Pitseng High School and having gained a bit of weight. She is looking forward to our Anniversary and to greeting our Canadian guests. Sr. Alice remains a leader on our local Advisory Council here and is a huge Help Lesotho advocate.
Our trip to Thaba Tseka has been excellent. It is fun to show Hilary my world up here and introduce her to many principals, children and partners – many of whom have been good friends over the past years. As she finally sees for herself the incredible impact of our programs, I can see the tears in her eyes.
For example, we were at the mission hospital yesterday and a young woman came up to the truck. She introduced herself and told us that she was one of the youth trained in leadership up here and now she is in her second year of nursing at the wonderful little nursing school beside the hospital. She just wanted to say that Help Lesotho had made such a difference in her life.
As we visited schools – on the 50th anniversary of the Canadian Flag – you would have been proud of these flags flying faithfully in appreciation at three of our partner primary schools.
We traveled to a little school high in the mountains on the worst road I have ever been on – and that is really saying something! We traveled for a long time, mostly going straight up on rough tracks, dodging boulders and deep ruts, and navigating narrow passages and intense inclines. Our staff here have been working with the families in this isolated community for months to build keyhole gardens, grow potatoes and learn about AIDS and health related issues.
We have been holding life skills training for the children – so many children. Many of the children had never seen a white person. The principal walks an hour from the road each way – every day for 15 years. There are 156 children in this little primary school from grade 1-5. There are three classrooms in all with two sharing grades. One class has 56 children. Many of the children walk two hours to school over this impossible terrain – just to learn a little while sitting in a dirt classrooms with little light and no resources.
I gave them a copy of my children’s book and they could not believe that there was a beautiful book featuring THEIR lives! It truly was a humbling day.
Words pale in telling you how much all these beneficiaries appreciate the work we are doing – because of your support. Thank you so much – again and again!