April 16, 2019
The day-to-day life for anyone living in Lesotho comes with so many challenges, some managing those challenges better than others. For 86-year-old Nkhono (grandmother) Mary and the three orphans she currently raises in a tiny village in Leribe, her life is certainly difficult, however, her perspective on her life and the way she handles those difficulties is nothing short of humbling. I had the privilege to spend two days and two nights with this precious soul and the opportunity to learn a little about her life.
Mary and the three children live on a piece of land held for generations by Mary’s family. Two single storey structures with corrugated metal roofs stand on the property surrounded by a large vegetable garden, three or four fruit trees and a small rustic animal corral situated under the tallest tree in the yard.
The property itself is marked by a few tall sticks in the ground which doesn’t seem to deter the community cattle from running through her front yard! Without any running water or electricity, Mary cooks outside on a fire pit or indoors on a small gas stove (when there is money to buy gas) and she has to gather water periodically from the community well to fill the two buckets she keeps inside her home.
Mary was one of the first 200 grandmothers who were part of Help Lesotho’s Grandmother Support Program in the mid-2000’s. Before joining the program Mary had already lost two of her four children and a number of young orphans in her care from tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, and other opportunistic illnesses. Never marrying, Mary faced her losses alone and eventually lost her ability to cope with life entirely.
In the glow of the kerosene lamp Mary proudly reflects how Help Lesotho’s Grandmother Support program helped her to resolve her grief, gave her a community of other grandmothers to share her fears with, gave her vital information on nutrition, how HIV is transmitted, when to get tested and how to care for a child with HIV. Receiving seeds and learning how to grow a garden revitalized Mary. She discovered her purpose and she loved educating others in her village with everything she learned and to this day is regarded as a leader in her community – someone other women can come to for advice. Mary said, “I am not rich, but I am not poor. I am content with all that I have- this is the way to live.”
From time to time Mary still has to chase away the feeling of loneliness, however, for two days we laughed, we sang and we shared time together – and I am so glad we did!
I am also very thankful for all of you! It was an absolute joy for me to share this journey with you! You have made such a tremendous difference in the lives of the Pearl Girls and for some the grandmothers who are raising them to become confident young women. Thank you for being so generous!
Until next time,
P.S. If you missed it, my fifth blog post talks about a few of the Pearl Girls who need a sponsor in order to go to high school this year. Please consider giving one of these girls the opportunity to create a brighter future!
P.P.S. In my video below I mention the importance of donated Aeroplan points (this is how I was able to go to Lesotho)! If you have points to donate, please click here.