In Lesotho, we working with an Anglican hospital to support health in communities.
In Lesotho, we are working with the Anglican-run St James’ Hospital, in Mantšonyane. The hospital celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013; we have been involved with the hospital since its foundation.
As with many mission hospitals, the cost of providing modern healthcare has become a huge challenge. Each year the 60-bed hospital struggles to buy medicines and equipment, recruit and pay for staff, and run nine satellite health facilities.
Maternity care programme at St James' Hospital
Despite facing many challenges, St James' is a primary source of support and healthcare for local mums, and the hospital's maternity care programme is much appreciated by local communities.
She reported: ‘Some of the women I spoke to had to walk for up to four hours to attend ante and post-natal checks, but they seemed in good spirits and had good things to say about the hospital. They were all breastfeeding and knew about the benefits of good nutrition. It was wonderful to see so many healthy babies and mums.
‘Pregnant women in Lesotho face a high likelihood of sickness and fatality, and there is a strong prevalence of HIV. So any healthcare they can receive is vital.
‘The hospital has a waiting lodge for mothers-to-be who live far from the hospital or who are considered at risk. This really is a godsend.
‘The quality of maternal healthcare I witnessed at St James’ is fantastic, and the mothers I spoke to were all well informed. They said they felt safe and taken care of.’
Video diary: meet mums and babies in Lesotho
While six months pregnant, USPG Fundraising Co-ordinator Katharine Hamilton kept a video diary during a visit to St James' Hospital.
Our work in Mantšonyane is not just focused on the hospital; we are also working with the hospital to reach out into local communities.
We are also training local people as community facilitators who work closely with the church and hospital. Their role is to bring people together in ways that help them to identify their skills and resources, so that they can take action for positive change, including better health.
John Mahoona, Hospital Administrator at St James’ Hospital, said: ‘Communities in the past have always been sidelined. But focusing more on the community is critical if we are to see transformation.
‘We hope that bringing people together will increase motivation and change behaviour. And this process includes the spiritual aspect of our lives.
‘Everyone is involved in making Mantšonyane a better place.’
Here is how the community programme works.
The first stage is to visit people from local communities in their homes. Seeing first-hand how people live has proved a revelation to medical personnel who take part in the community visits.
The aim is for villagers to identify strengths in the community, rather than focus on problems. There is an emphasis on exploring forms of income-generation and learning how to promote healthy living through prevention rather than cure.
In addition, the hospital and local church learn about local challenges and can adjust their programmes and services accordingly.
Community empowerment: Mamokete's story
Mamokete Makana, now aged 80, lost 10 of her 11 children to sicknesses of different kinds. Not surprisingly, there was a time when she had lost hope.
But she persevered. With no employment opportunities, Mamokete (pictured) started brewing liquor and selling it from her shebeen, a type of ‘home pub’ and a cottage industry in Lesotho.
Through hard work, she was able to pay for her one surviving child, a son, to study. He is now a primary school teacher, and Mamokete spends a lot of time with the grandchildren he has given her.
She said: ‘There is a good level of community co-operation here. If people are in need, then the community will share.’
One of her customers explains: ‘I survive by doing any small job I can, like collecting firewood. But I think that I could do better if there was more opportunity to join up with others. One day, I would like to have a proper job and to own a cow.’
The work of USPG in Mantšonyane is tapping into this community spirit. Our aim is to unlock local potential for tackling life’s challenges, and we are working in partnership with local churches, the Anglican-run St James’ Hospital, and Hope Africa, which is a social development programme set up by the Anglican Church of Southern Africa.