Saturday, June 21, 2008

LESOTHO CONTEXT - June 20th, 2008

The country is the size of Maryland or the country of Belgium. 1.8 million people here. 21-26% (ages 15-40) with HIV/AIDS. Third largest prevalence in the world (next to Swaziland and Botswana). Thee are over 60 AIDS related deaths per day. In April 'o8 the government made ARV drug treatment free. They have also begun to connect ARV treatment with food supplements. There are 77,000 children who no mothers and 46,000 double orphans. \lesotho is one of the poorest countries in the world. The average life expectancy is under 40 years.

Today we met with a village chief who speaks English. Nearly every village has a chief (oldest son of first wife) and the villages ae run with the traditional hierarchy. We are told that he is on-call 24/7 to handle any and all questions, problems and decisions. We have an assignment to do a fund-raising activity for the village, which must have approval from our chief.

I have been here 6 days and the weather has included a day warm enough to be in t-shirt and sandals, a day cold enough for long underwear and thick socks, a thunderstorm to shake me out of my skin, and a high decibal hail drop on the metal room of my room.