Throughout my time surveying, I have heard a lot of about the health-related and economic ordeals that many Basotho caregivers face. I am always impressed by their resilience and their kind, welcoming demeanor in the face of challenges.
I spoke to many bo-‘m’e (women caregivers), who did not have a job or other form of income, that were supporting 6+ children, taking care of cattle, and maintaining fields or gardens. This work has certainly taken a toll on their health. These women are so strong and, as many have recounted on this blog, are definitely the backbone of the Basotho society. The duty of ensuring the health and livelihood of all its members usually falls on these women.
The bo-‘m’e would welcome me into their home and offer me a chair (even if they only had one) and would listen and respond tentatively to my survey. The stories they had to tell about their daily challenges are heart wrenching as well as inspiring. Sometimes I was emotionally overwhelmed by the situations that these individuals faced, but I had to remind myself to bounce back. I would be doing these individuals a disservice by getting not completing my work. I want to tell the story of these caregivers, usually women and often grandmothers, and hopefully see future interventions that improve their health and economic standing as well as the health of the children they raise.
I am amazed and grateful to these women for agreeing to take time out of their hectic schedule to talk to a complete stranger and share their knowledge and kindness. I only hope that one day I can repay them.
I like to think that this experience has humbled me some and helped me remember not to complain as much about my daily trivialities. While I joke about timeliness, bumpy roads, and long walking distances, these are just everyday things the Basotho caregivers do not even fret about.
I want to thank the Basotho people, specifically the caregivers and children, for their time, stories, willingness to help, as well as their patience and acceptance of me and my research. Without their enthusiastic and willing participation my research would not be possible. Thanks also to the TTL staff for their assistance in coordinating my surveys and helping my research to progress as much as it did in such a short period of time. Kea leboha!
My research will not change Lesotho immediately, or even substantially, but I hope that in some small way I can contribute to change in the lives of these strong Basotho caregivers, just as they have had a profound impact on me.
As we say in Lesotho: Khotso. Pula. Nala.