GLC helps older generation cope with HIV fallout

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The Graff Leadership Centre in Leribe not only comes to the fore in educating and supporting the youth of Lesotho, but also excels in assisting the communities’ grandmothers cope with the fallout of HIV and AIDS in their children’s generation.

Nkhono Mafiloe, now 63, married as a teenager. The disease took her husband and two of six children. Stranded in a rural village, she has sole responsibility for the care of 10 orphaned grandchildren aged three to 14.

Isolated, both geographically and emotionally, Mafiloe was paralysed by the responsibility: “The children were so sad, and I did not know how to help them because I too was sad.” All 11 family members lived in a small one-room hut, sharing two mattresses. Food was scarce and Mafiloe would often go hungry so the youngest could eat.

Her plight led to the village chief contacting FACET’s Graff Leadership Centre. The monthly Grandmother meetings help Mafiloe learn about HIV and in turn to care for the sick and educate her grandchildren, as well as support them emotionally. Meeting women in a similar situation, she also benefits from being able to share her worries and offer encouraging words to that network.

The support continues at home: food parcels, shoes and blankets are all forthcoming and she has had assistance in building a keyhole garden, specially constructed to yield 10 times that of a normal garden – enough to sustain her family.

“Before I started the programme, I worried if my grandchildren would have a future at all,” confides Mafiloe. “But now we all help each other. My grandchildren help me with the garden, and with everything. And I am able to listen to them and let them grieve for their parents. I am so blessed to be part of this programme.”

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