Working together for relief in Lesotho

LESOTHO - Tzu Chi has been active in the beautiful country of Lesotho for a decade now. This country in Africa has a reputation for its beauty, but also for its starving and poverty-stricken people. For this reason Tzu Chi volunteers of many nationalities came together to hold three large-scale distributions in Lesotho. Despite the harsh weather, volunteers and recipients celebrated coming together at the relief.

3 large-scale distributions

It's summer in Taiwan, but the temperature is dropping in Lesotho, where winter has begun. In this Southern African country, Tzu Chi held a large-scale charity event in the highlands. Working together, the volunteers moved over 24,000 kilograms of relief supplies across Lesotho's highlands for distribution to more than 800 families, benefiting a total of 3200 people.

Volunteers from many nations

The sand and wind make the highlands a difficult place to work, especially moving heavy materials and traveling. A volunteer from Lesotho suggested three locations for the distribution to be held: Sekamaneng, Ha Tikoe, and Setibing. Social welfare workers also helped the distribution by creating a list of residents and items that are needed.

Numbers of poor growing

Lesotho is a very small African country landlocked by South Africa. Its area is over 30,000 square kilometers, which is slightly smaller than Taiwan. Most of its population of 2 million people is farmers. Lesotho is also known as the "Kingdom in the Sky" because of its high plains. But with its beautiful views, it is also called the "Switzerland of Africa".

However, only one fifth of this beautiful country is farmable. The rest is too high or mountainous for agriculture. Several other factors also make things difficult for Lesotho's farmers. Seven months of the year is snow season. Farming techniques are unsophisticated. And since 2001, climate conditions have become increasingly abnormal. All this has contributed to the poor living conditions of Lesotho. Every year, the country receives financial assistance from South Africa, yet the cost of rice has doubled, and the number of poor has increased. Since 2002, Tzu Chi volunteers began a project to supply rice and food to the starving people in Lesotho.

Tzu Chi grows to help others

Tzu Chi established a liaison office in Lesotho 10 years ago, in 1995. Wu Wen Zhang founded the office based on the teachings of Master Cheng Yen, on giving back to the community that one makes a living from. Under this principle, Mr. Zhang accomplished many positive deeds for Lesotho and gathered much support and volunteers. Volunteers of several nationalities have united under Tzu Chi to help care for recipients and local orphans. In February 2000, Tzu Chi created 15 vocational training centers to help residents develop work skills and lift themselves out of poverty.

At the distribution, Tzu Chi volunteers handed out blankets to appreciative residents. In the future, Tzu Chi volunteers will continue to help the people of Lesotho overcome their difficulties.

Edited from Da Ai (Great Love) News, a broadcast program of Tzu Chi's television station. For more information on Tzu Chi's Da Ai TV, please visit http://www.newdaai.tv.


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