In 2007, when I was new to Lesotho, I was pretty excited to get out into the mountains and visit some of the ‘very rural’ villages. I say ‘very rural,’ because a lot of Lesotho is rural, but there are certainly different levels of rural. Some villages are close to small towns, meaning they have basic clinic facilities, and basic shops for supplies. But then there are those other villages, deep in the mountains, where I was told some of the children had never seen white people before!
I wanted to go there.
The first time I went out, we went to an area called Ketane. From Semonkong, it took us between 6 and 7 hours on horseback, with pack donkeys following. It was 6 or 7 tough hours, where the horses had to do a lot of technical climbing up and down the many mountain slopes. All in all, it was a fun adventure, and gave me a sense of what life in the rural mountains looks like, where there are no facilities for a day’s walk.
A few years later, a visiting team somehow arranged a Lesotho Defense Force helicopter to take them to the same village. I jumped in the extra seat just to go along for the ride.
The following is no exaggeration:
The route that took me at least 6 hours on horseback, took us 6 minutes in the helicopter!
Fast forward to 2017. One of our HIV+ children at Pulane Children’s Centre was having a hard time on the medication he had been given. He just kept having bad reactions, and our local clinic, which is pretty far off any main route and not at the leading edge of health care, wasn’t able to help him. They tried to change his medication, but the clinic is staffed by a few government nurses, and no doctor, and they just didn’t know what to do.
One morning the boy came into the room where we were meeting with the staff, and we were shocked. His whole face was swollen, his eyes almost shut. It was clear that we needed to take drastic measures to get him help.
I contacted a doctor at Baylor Clinic, which is a clinic network in Lesotho run by Baylor University in Texas. It is a clinic specifically for HIV+ children in Lesotho. The doctor advised that we get the boy to one of their clinics as soon as possible. The closest one to Pulane Children’s Centre is in Mohale’s Hoek, 3 hour’s drive away. There was no debate, this had to happen.
We arrived at Baylor, and what we found was incredible: Professional staff who enjoyed their job, and were on the leading edge of HIV treatments and care. After a quick assessment, the doctor found the problem, and had a simple solution. The child was on an outdated medication that our local clinic didn’t know was no longer in use, and often caused this reaction. The Baylor doctor ran some tests, and prescribed a much better medication. Needless to say, there was immediate improvement, and today that boy is running around, as mischievous as ever.
To me, these two stories link together in explaining just why MAF is so valuable in Lesotho. It’s hard to travel in Lesotho, and there are clinics in the deep mountains, that wouldn’t be reached on a regular basis without aircraft. Secondly, there are solutions to so many of the problems out here, if you can just link up the right people with the recipients who need help. Often the solution is quick and simple, it just takes some kind of practical link to get the right person to the right place.
This is why I think the job MAF is doing is so wonderful, and why I want to be a part of it. Daily, the work they are doing is making very real changes in people’s lives. What’s more, the love and dedication with which the MAF staff do their work goes a long way in reflecting the love of Jesus to everyone they meet. **That’s why we are passionate about being a part of what MAF is doing in Lesotho! This last sentence could be stronger.