Lesotho – further information

The Kingdom of Lesotho is a small country, entirely surrounded by South Africa. It is often called The Mountain Kingdom or The Kingdom in the Sky, because it is so mountainous. The whole country is higher than Britain’s highest mountain, with the result that wherever you go you see the most amazing views.

The population of just under two million is steadily decreasing. This is partly because, with so few employment opportunities, men often have to go to South Africa to find work in the mines. But mostly it is the impact of HIV/AIDS. Around 1 in 4 of the population are HIV positive, making Lesotho one of the countries in the world most heavily hit by AIDS. The biggest impact is on people who are of an age to have children at school. It is not unusual for students to be orphans, perhaps living with a grandparent or even on their own and caring for younger siblings.

Ha Fusi village is to the north of the school. It lies beside the Caledon River – and on the other side of the river is South Africa. Some of the people from Ha Fusi work in the fields on the South African side. It is seasonal work for less than £4 a day. To get there they ford the river, which is the home to poisonous snakes. When the rains come the river can become too deep to ford, trapping people on the South African side.

One day at school, one of the boys looked listless and was finding it hard to concentrate. The teachers discovered that his grandmother, with whom he lived, had been unable to cross back from South Africa for the past three days because of the rains. There was no food in the house and no money to buy any. Since then the school has introduced (compulsory) school lunches.