Grandmothers (‘nkhonos’ in Sesotho) hold a special place in Lesotho families. Our Grandmother Support Program empowers 200 rural grandmothers each year with education, access to local resources, and psychosocial support to help them overcome grief and care for their orphaned grandchildren. Read on to meet three nkhonos from Qoqolosing.
Nkhono Maneo has the energy of a 20-year-old woman. She said she will die with a spade in her hands to provide for her grandchildren. She built her two houses with her bare hands although her knees are quick to remind her that she is old. Nkhono said, “I am grateful to Help Lesotho for putting food on my table when I could not provide for my grandchildren because of an illness that had put me on bed rest. I put the lantern light on in the evening for my grandchildren to play outside while I finish cooking. I then take it back into our house to share a meal with my family and talk about the day’s events. I have no words to express when it comes to the life skills sessions I attended. I learnt to forgive and make amends with people whom I had conflicts with although, for some, it is a work in progress. I have been able to manage my anger at the state of my life and build a stronger relationship with my grandchildren.”
Like a thief in the night, death left her shattered from burying eight of her children and husband one by one. She is left with one daughter whom she prays for every day. With tears cascading, Nkhono Mants’ihlele said, “The life skills sessions have given me new hope and helped me to grieve although it will take me time. I had never seen how important I am until the self-esteem session made me appreciate life and my family. My family of 7 members entirely depends on my small pension but because of learning about good relationships, my neighbours and I always share the little we have with one another to get to the next day. I loved the Grandmother Program. I have a blanket to keep warm and a lantern light to brighten my night without the fear of running out of paraffin or not having money to buy a candle. I don’t remember the last time we had a decent meal but Help Lesotho really answered my silent prayer. I feel rich at heart and have found healing.”
“I recently lost my husband and could not bear the thought of being called a widow. I have to wear mourning clothing every day for a few months. I miss him every day especially when I come back from the trainings because I used to share with him everything I learnt and he really appreciated Help Lesotho. When I came home with the food relief and the lanterns I remember him jokingly saying that he can see that I have not been leaving his sight for nothing.”
Nkhono Malerato lives in a household of eight who all depend on her pension money. She has learnt to appreciate new ways to communicate with her grandchildren instead of shouting at them. She now approaches them differently and has seen remarkable improvement in their relationship as a family. “Thank you Help Lesotho for helping me heal.”