Geschrieben von Irina Andre-Lang
Drucken E-Mail

 

Mrs. Mpho Makhalanyane, ein Patenkind und Mrs. Makabelo Tenane


At the beginning of January 2021, I reported for the last time about the situation of our sponsored students in Lesotho. What has happened in the meantime?

 

Initially, the Corona Virus 2020 only spread very slowly in Lesotho, the family reunification in Christmas 2020 has changed everything. Over 130,000 migrant workers crossed the newly opened border to return from South Africa to their home villages in Lesotho. They brought the South African variant of the virus with them and immediately spread it across Lesotho. In the weeks after Christmas, a large number of people died quickly and without treatment. In the whole country there was no longer any oxygen supply. Hospitals were unable to accept new patients and funerals were over-used. More and more Basotho sought help with traditional medicine and mythical healings. It is almost impossible for the Basotho to isolate themselves in their small and overcrowded hut. Corona tests were sparse and unreliable.

 

 

As a result, Lesotho issued a “Red Alert” on 13th January 2021 - schools were closed (immediately after they reopened for the first time on January 4), as were shops. Social and family gatherings have been restricted. All gatherings, including church services, were banned. A curfew was imposed from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Police and military have been deployed across the country to enforce COVID-19 regulations.

 

 

 

These measures worked. After the infection rate was lowered restrictions were eased on 3rd February 2021. The main super-spreader events remain funerals and church services. On 15th February 2021, King Letsie III asked his compatriots on national television to no longer attend funerals. His Majesty said that if Lesotho is to win the fight against the killer virus, citizens must act differently. "The main problem right now is that we have to protect ourselves," said His Majesty, adding, "I know that as Basotho we protect our traditions, especially when we bury our loved ones." "Unfortunately, under the given conditions, we have to change our way of behaving and comply with the regulations." He said the recommendations came after careful studies showed funerals were a super-spreading agent for the Covid-19 virus. “I therefore ask all Basotho to adhere to the recommendations. It is still our belief and hope that one day this pandemic will end and when that day comes we will have the chance to honour those who left us during this pandemic with the rightful ceremonies ”. He appealed to each individual's responsibility to fight the pandemic and ensure that the rate of infection is reduced.

 

 

 

March 2020, Lesotho quickly closed and blocked its 14 border posts to South Africa. A year of restrictions has decimated the Lesotho economy - businesses fail, high unemployment and loss of income rise. Those who sell vegetables on the street and other street vendors no longer have any income. Parents go to great lengths to feed their children through piece jobs.

 

The most common and desperate problem is hunger! Due to Covid-19 restrictions almost a quarter of the population in Lesotho needed food aid between January and March 2021, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). It is estimated that more than 580,000 people out of a population of 2.2 million people are food uninsecure, although this year there will be normal to above-average rainfall and the potential for above-average grain production. The FAO said Covid-19 has lowered household incomes and impaired people's ability to buy fertilizers or hire workers, which "will likely limit potential increases in yields." The number of people who will need food aid in 2021 is about 35% higher than it was between October 2019 and March 2020, the FAO said.

 

 

A hurricane in southern Africa brought heavy rainfall to Lesotho in early February 2021, causing severe damage to hut roofs, roads and crops. Several people were killed. On 17th February 2021, the Prime Minister of Lesotho, Moeketsi Majoro, declared a six-month state of emergency. The repair of the 33 destroyed main bridges will cost over 7 million Euros. Fortunately, enough plants survived to supply the families with vegetables.

 

 

 

Since the beginning of the corona pandemic and the school closure in March 2020, Yes we care! e.V. has carried out five hunger relief campaigns. Not only were all 115 sponsored students and their families provided with basic food, but - thanks to the great financial support from many sponsors and other donors – also hundreds of other needy pupils and their relatives from Pitseng High School and Pontmain Primary School. The fourth hunger relief campaign was in January 2021 and the fifth at the end of February 2021. This hunger relief saved many people from hunger and starvation! The sixth campaign is planned for the first week of April 2021, shortly before the Easter break.

 

 

Our carers, Mrs. Makabelo Tenane and Mrs. Mpho Makhalanyane, are doing an excellent job. They report: “The distribution of the food is going well and we have also started collecting letters and questionnaires for the sponsors. The only problem is that it rains a lot and there is chaos on some roads and we cannot cross some rivers to the villages where YWC students live. In addition, we cannot take photos properly and have to skip a few rainy days. But all in all, it's going really well. Today was our last day for distributing food and we are so happy that all students are still doing well!” In the end, they managed to reach all students, even those who could not be reached the last time because of the flooding.

 

 

 

 Lesotho is one of 92 countries scheduled to receive free vaccines from the COVAX facility (a fully subsidized initiative by the World Health Organization to give poor countries free vaccines) in April 2021. Should it arrive, the vaccine they are receiving expired in March 2021. COVAX is committed to donating enough vaccines to 20% of the population of each target country. These countries, including Lesotho, will need to find the funds to purchase the additional vaccines needed for the remaining 80% coverage. Lesotho will receive its first batch of COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccines as early as March 2021 as part of the Covax initiative, which will cover 3% of the population. The government announced that students and teachers in the first group will be vaccinated so that all schools can be opened, but only students over the age of 16 will be vaccinated. This is a concrete start. According to the latest Worldometer Coronavirus figures, Lesotho has had 10,525 registered cases and 309 deaths to date. These numbers do not reflect reality, as only a fraction of the cases of infection are recorded.

 

 

This week, the Ministry of Education announced that after almost a year schools will open and that all 10th and 12th grade students will write their exams from 15th to 31st March 2021. In addition, all students should be promoted to the next class. The minister has not yet announced when the eighth, ninth and eleventh grades will be able to go back to school. It may take a few more weeks / months for the schools to be fully open.

 

 From our point of view, this decision by the Ministry of Education makes no sense: like all other students in Lesotho, our sponsored students have not been in school for a whole year. Online lessons were only available in very few schools, not at Pitseng High School. Most of the children in Lesotho do not have tablets or computers. If available, they try to study on small cell phones, but it's not effective. They don't have internet at home - so it's hard to do research. There was no preparation whatsoever for the important exams of the 10th grade, the so-called JC exam, without which one cannot be promoted to the 11th grade, and matric in 12th grade. Accordingly, the children have no chance of passing these exams. Our carers suspect that this decision was only made for financial reasons: the registration fees for the exams which have to be paid well in advance would have to be reimbursed by the ministry if the exam dates were postponed any further.

 

 

Together with Pitseng High School, Yes we care! e.V. decided the following: All sponsored students of Yes we care! e.V. will repeat the last school year, with the only exception if, contrary to expectations, someone should pass the exam.

 

As of today, the 10th and 12th grade students are back at Pitseng High School to help with the preparations for next week's exams.

 

We thank everyone from the bottom of our hearts who supports Yes we care! e.V. financially in this challenging time, thinks of the sponsored students and their families as well as all suffering people in Lesotho and prays for them and encourages us for our work.