Yesterday we planned to visit 4 clients in the Mapholeneng area (about 35 km from TTL) to do monthly outreach health assessments and to distribute food and formula. The clients all lived in different villages so we traversed many hills and bumpy roads meet them.
Our first visit was to Boikarabelo, a small baby girl we found bundled in her rondavel with her dad and sister – her mother had gone down to the river to get water. Aside from a little diaper rash, she looked healthy and is growing well. The mother has been unable to breastfeed so TTL has supplied the family with formula to ensure that Boikarabelo does not become malnourished – a big risk to babies in Lesotho whose mothers cannot breastfeed and whose families cannot afford formula. Before we left we weighed and measured Boikarabelo and replenished the family’s formula supply.
The rest of our day did not go as smoothly. We found our next two clients at home, but their caregivers were absent. Their mothers and grandmothers had gone to Malaphaneng town to receive rations from the World Food Program. We weighed and measured the kids – Tsepiso and Moleleki, and then left to try to track their caregivers down. We arrived at the Red Cross in Mapholeneng, where the WFP was distributing food and found hundreds of people and an assembly of donkeys, waiting to receive food support. We asked around but could not find Tsepiso’s mom or Moleleki’s grandmother in the crowd. We will have to return to their households to discuss their children’s health and development – especially Moleleki, whose malnourishment does not appear to be improving even with TTL’s food support.
No one was around at the last home we visited. A lot of driving to accomplish nothing. The outreach staff tells me that this is unusual – families are usually at home when we visit, but the inability to communicate easily with our clients’ families is one of the obstacles TTL has to work around. It is also one of the reasons why TTL’s work is so important in this region of Lesotho because we are supporting families who are isolated and hard to reach, living far away from access to most aid services. Failing to meet with these clients and caregivers was disappointing, but it was good to see first hand some of the challenges the TTL faces in its outreach to rural mountain villages.