Last year in Lesotho I had the immense privilege of taking some photos for Send a Cow, a non-profit organisation that helps people in Africa through agricultural development programmes. Their programmes are diverse, but at the heart of them all is a focus on empowering people through agricultural training, resources and supplies to become more self-sufficient.
In Lesotho, Send a Cow primarily focuses on sustainable farming projects in rural areas. Their most successful initiative has been the introduction of keyhole gardens, a unique method that uses limited resources and space, and allows vegetables to survive in harsh winter and summer extremes. With these vegetables families are better able to support themselves by eating and selling the food they grow. Send a Cow Lesotho also has programmes which provide poultry, goats and rabbits to families. Today Send a Cow Lesotho helps over 3,000 households, many of whom are severely affected by the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the country combined with extremely difficult agricultural conditions.
Send a Cow Lesotho asked me to take some photos of a few of the families they support for one of their fundraising appeals. An isolated country with a harsh climate and geography, Lesotho is in constant need of more funding and support from the international community. Send a Cow hoped that by telling the story of some of the families they support through photos and testimonials, they could reach the hearts of donors in the UK and beyond.
The families we photographed were so beautiful. The strength and optimism they demonstrated in the most challenging conditions was enormously admirable. I was so touched by how open they were in telling and showing us their story and I feel so fortunate to have been able to document it for them.
One of our visits was to a 24 year old who had been left to care for her 4 year old niece and 6 year old nephew when her sister was forced to leave for work in South Africa. She had nothing other than the keyhole garden and water pump Send a Cow Lesotho had helped her with and was working hard to start up a new batch of crops. The two kids were so intrigued by us and watched cautiously as we chatted to learn more about their story. You could tell they adored their aunt who was doing her best to give them everything she could with such limited resources, but life was not easy for any of them.
In another village we met a 70 year old grandmother who was taking care of her orphaned 11 year old grandson. They lived up in a more mountainous part of Lesotho where the winters are cold, long and snowy. She had a small keyhole garden but her crops were struggling. She also had several batches of dried peaches from the few trees she had on her property that she was preparing to sell to the community. She talked to us about how difficult it was to make ends meet, especially since she is supporting her grandson without any help or formal work. She also was in desperate need of a pit latrine as they had nothing other than two small run down traditional rondavels. She was a stoic and strong woman, but as soon as her grandson came home she would crack little smiles at him.
After a short walk across a plateau in the rain, we met a 55 year old grandmother taking care of three young children on her own. She was immensely proud of the keyhole gardens and other crops she had been able to plant with the support of Send a Cow Lesotho, and her efforts to maintain them truly showed. Her house was a small traditional square building consisting of one room where they all slept and shared meals. Though in desperate need of repairs, she had carefully planted a couple of flowering plants on either side of the doors that added warmth to her home and further showed how much pride she had in her property and work.
One of our last stops was to see a 34 year old mother and her 7 year old daughter, living off of the few crops they could harvest from a tiny vegetable patch and a batch of dried peaches from a couple of trees. The windows in their small traditional square home were broken and the doors had large cracks letting in the harsh climate from outside. Despite the challenges they faced, they were proud, and it was evident how much they adored each other. They showed off with pride a large batch of dried peaches they were planning to sell, and the mother showed us her very small vegetable patch which was flourishing with what few crops she could squeeze in despite the poor soil and irrigation. On the way out we accompanied her daughter to fetch some water, almost a mile away up the hill, no small feat for a petite 7 year old several times a day.
If you are touched by this post, please take a moment to donate any amount to Send a Cow Lesotho. It’s quick and easy and I have complete faith that the money you part with will go to an extremely good cause through the good work this organisation is doing.
To donate go to: https://www.sendacow.org/lesotho
Or read about their latest appeal due to the extreme drought and horrible conditions Lesotho is experiencing now: https://www.sendacow.org/Appeal/lesothonow and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6pcMFOuSsSQ
Thank you Send a Cow Lesotho for the opportunity. I hope I can help tell more stories of the families you support when we are back on the African continent again. In the meantime salang hantle!