Thursday, February 13, 2014

Basotho Rains

Mokhotlong is a place of extremes: extreme elevation, extreme beauty, and extreme impacts from even the slightest environmental changes. Take, for instance, the rainy season.

In the arid mountain climate, rain is highly valued. Every summer the skies douse Lesotho with torrents of rain, watering crops and softening the dry earth. In recent years, these rains have grown heavier (one could say more extreme) and the effects have put a strain on every facet of daily life.

The growing season in the highlands is necessarily short. Late snows delay planting, and the risk of early frost pushes the harvest forward, sometimes by several weeks. Without rain, of course, these crops cannot grow, but oversaturation is a problem as well. Fields are damaged by hail, washed away by rushing rainwater, and yellowed by sitting too long in wet soil. Even TTL’s garden shows the effects of some of the rains we’ve received this season.

Failed crops mean more families struggle to feed themselves, especially in rural areas where food delivery is difficult. Rain also contaminates potable water sources, increasing illness. Just when many TTL clients need additional help, we face one more rain-induced barrier: the roads.

Normally this road is crossed by a shallow stream, easily driven through, but each summer the rains create a river and traversing the water is suddenly unpredictable.
TTL’s Outreach Workers must cross bridges, like the one pictured below, to reach some of our remotest clients. With each heavy rain, the river rushes over the road making it impassable despite our strong will and powerful vehicles, and we must delay appointments. This reality weighs heavily on our staff, since we cannot predict when we will next be able to reach these children.

Each season presents a new set of obstacles as we battle the effects of HIV/AIDS and malnutrition, but the work continues day after day. At TTL, we operate on our own extreme – determination – to support the most vulnerable children of Lesotho, rain or shine.

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