Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Faces of Motherhood

Today is mother’s day.  In Lesotho, the traditional concept of mother becomes as murky as the mountain rivers after a strong rain.  Lesotho has the 11th highest maternal mortality rate globally with 620 reported maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.  If that figure isn’t staggering enough, consider that 27% of women of childbearing age are HIV positive with a life expectancy estimated between 41 and 49 years.  Furthermore, it is highly probable that all of these reports are gross underestimates considering that the vast majorities of women don’t have access to medical care and therefore simply fade away without report, leaving Lesotho with, per report, half of its children categorized as orphaned and vulnerable.

We don’t need to revisit statistics to remind us of the impact of maternal mortality and HIV/AIDS on the population served by TTL.  We experience the figures first hand when we receive a motherless newborn into the safe home, when our outreach team partners with extended family members to find a caregiver for an orphaned child.  We see it in the faces of children caring for children, the traditional idea of a mother no more than a photo or a vague memory.

Today in Lesotho, we celebrate mothers and all those who are caregivers.  We celebrate the caregivers that work tirelessly day after day and night after night in the TTL safe home to provide care for the infants and children.  We celebrate the grandparents, the aunts and uncles, the siblings, cousins and neighbors who come forward to care for the orphaned children of Lesotho.  We celebrate the resilience of the people that come together to care for one another, for whom no face will fade away without knowledge, without report.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


Greetings from the mountain Kingdom of Lesotho!  My name is Jenn Baker and I’m the newest Touching Tiny Lives Fellow.  I first stumbled upon TTL while taking a vacation from my work as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Swaziland in April 2012.  I was smitten with the organization, its mission and the safe home full of infants and toddlers always ready for some additional cuddling or playtime.  I had the good fortune to spend a couple of months here at the end of last year and I left with the knowledge that I’d be returning for a full year as the next fellow.  I am honored and excited to return and work alongside some of the most motivated, caring and friendly people in Mokhotlong.  I look forward to sharing this journey with the local staff, fellows, volunteers and other visitors that cross our threshold during my time here. 

I feel so fortunate to draw inspiration from both my co-workers and from the dramatic mountain landscape that surrounds us:  Waterfalls that trickle and roar feeding the cold streams and rivers that snake their way through the valleys they carved; sunsets that play with the mountain contours and clouds to create dramatic images full of vivid colors not found in any box of crayons and a night sky that mesmerizes with its abundance of stars, shooting and stationary. 

This next year, like the mountains and valleys of Lesotho, will be full of highs and lows.  I look forward to the journey.  Thank you for sharing this adventure.

Best wishes,

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.  ~  Helen Keller