Help orphans in Lesotho

I am a pediatrician working in Lesotho, the “Mountain Kingdom”, at a clinic that specializes in caring for children with HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. Through my time here I have met many vulnerable, abused, and neglected children living with uncaring parents or those orphaned living with indifferent extended family members or neighbours. This experience has been heartbreaking and morally troubling. The impact of this vulnerability on these children’s health, development, and overall prosperity is both obvious and enormous. In order for vulnerable children to prosper they need a stable “home” and supportive caregivers. Many vulnerable children in Lesotho do not have this. Estimates vary but at least 100,000 of the one million children living in Lesotho are considered “vulnerable” and 300,000 are orphans (at least one parent is deceased). Likely more children are not accounted for as they don’t disclose episodes of abuse and are geographically difficult to reach given their isolation in the mountains.

One excellent group that has helped several vulnerable children in Lesotho is the Apostolic Faith Mission, particularly its social development branch. It runs a foster home programme, with the help of Habitat for Humanity of Great Britain and Bracelet of Hope, a Canadian charitable organization. The program currently runs 6 homes throughout Lesotho caring for over 40 vulnerable and orphaned children. Though this is a raindrop compared to the flood of vulnerable children living throughout Lesotho, the more funding the organization can receive the more children they can help. Our initial goal is to raise funding to ensure the children they are housing are getting adequate food, clothing, and support. Furthermore the organization has three additional homes currently empty because of lack of funding. To house, feed, clothe, and care for 8 children in each house costs approximately 500 American dollars per month. Our secondary goal is to raise $100 per month to reopen at least two of these houses and care for 15-18 additional vulnerable children. In the long run with even more funding we can create more houses and help more vulnerable children allowing them to live more prosperous and happy lives. As someone with a pediatric and public health background, I find it morally unacceptable that so many children would live life vulnerable, abused and without the appropriate care one deserves to be happy and prosper. I have decided it is time to act!   

Please read the attached message below by the organization’s leading social worker, Samuel, who is helping run the foster home care system.    





For more information on the program particularly what Bracelet of Hope and Habitat for Humanity have done to help please see the links:

http://www.braceletofhope.ca/homes-supporting-orphans.php


https://www.habitatforhumanity.org.uk/what-we-do/where-we-work/europe-middle-east-and-africa/lesotho







 
Message from the Social Worker, Samuel: 

"AFMSDD is the social development department of the Apostolic Faith Mission in Lesotho. Its aim is to answer the social development needs that arise in the communities within which it operates.

 I would like to share the work that we are doing in Lesotho. Our core functions are admissions, ongoing psychosocial support and reunification. We provide shelter, educational support and psychosocial support through foster care. We have 43 children, 19 girls and 24 boys, placed in 6 foster homes.

 We have rescued child headed household children, rape victims, and children who were battered, neglected, and emotionally abused. We have provided these children with homes, meals, education and ongoing counseling. These children had no hope for a better life because the extended family system is crumbling in Lesotho.

We ensure each child receives at least three meals a day prepared by a loving parent who gets empowered regularly to care for these children (in the light of national and international legislation).

We believe the work that we do is a huge success in the making because we use a unique model of operation, the community-based foster home model. This model has never been applied in Lesotho. Each home is placed inconspicuously into the community and houses a maximum of eight children with a set of foster parents. This system attempts to create a warm and authentic sense of family within the community. We believe this decreases the stigma of being an orphan and allows for more individualized care from the foster parents.  

There is a case I would like to share with you. Khotso is an 11 year-old boy who stays at Lithoteng (pronounced Deetoteng) foster home. The name Khotso means “Peace” in Sesotho. Khotso has grown up in the foster home as he was only a few months old when he arrived to the foster home. Initially he was found at the gate of an orphanage, which is no longer functioning at the moment. No one knows anything about his background. He was removed from that orphanage because of severe rash. The orphanage was over populated so there was not enough attention for individual child. Many, but not all the orphanage in Lesothos, share this same problem given the great disparity between supply of homes and demand from orphans and vulnerable children

Every time I visit Lithoteng foster home, I feel the burden I and the organization has in caring for these children. At times Khotso will come to me and make a request, e.g. ”ntate Sam, I need shoes” (Ntate means “Mr” in Sesotho). When he says that, I realize that I am all he has, we are all he has. If for some reason I ignore him or one of us decides to withhold his donation, the boy will be doomed. Reuniting him is a farfetched dream because there is nobody to link him with. Khotso needs me, He needs you.

We have several needs that we are having difficulty filling without adequate funding . We need enough balanced-diet meals, running water for drinking and use in the household, and proper clothing to allow the children to blend well with others. We also would like to have more social workers to give each family and child intense psychological and social support. Furthermore social workers have to move to near and far places locating children’s relatives with an effort of reunifying them. Easy access to transport is of utmost importance.

In the future we hope to have well run foster homes in all the districts of Lesotho with good nutrition, education and appropriate rehabilitation programs in place. Currently we are happy to highlight that the government of Lesotho through the Ministry of Social Development marvels at the model of foster homes that we are using.

 

 

Special needs

1. Tools for 3 boys who have just completed school

2. Educational needs for all the children, including school uniforms, school shoes, notebooks, school bags, and winter jackets. Estimated cost is M3000.00 (approx $230) for primary school students and approximately M7000.00 (approx $540) per child for secondary school. (M13 or 13 maloti = 1 American dollar)

3. Winter and summer clothing. In winter it gets very expensive to run each home .We used to have used good quality clothing sent from Holland in a container and the cost of our clothing needs was minimized. However, we lost that service and our clothing costs have risen. We estimate M5000.00 for clothing per annum for each child. We normally buy clothing two times per year.

4. Heating facilities, particularly gas heaters and gas, in all the homes. We have only one heater per home but ideally 3 would suffice especially for the morning when they get ready for school in the bedrooms. This would require cost of M16000.00 (approx $1230) for all the homes.

5. Engine for the organization’s car M30 000 (approx $2300).

6. Due to the high cost of food we operate on a minimum budget of M1800.00 ($140) per month which most of the does not last for a month, we would like to increase it to M3000/month ($230)

7. Miscellaneous plans/needs: Table and chairs for Mazenod foster home, Broilers project for Lithoteng, Internet café/coffee shop for Mohalalitoe"

 




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Organizer

Nick Agathis 
Organizer
Bedminster Township, NJ
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