Building a Legacy: A Lesotho Cheetah

By Courtney Doll and Lauren Steele

“We hold these truths to be sacred & undeniable; that all men are created equal & independent, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent & inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness…” These words from Thomas Jefferson underline one of the truths of life: that every person should be guaranteed a chance to be happy and healthy. There is no denying that health care is one of the basic freedoms every person deserves. That is why a man who is fighting to eradicate HIV/AIDS is a human rights champion, and a true Lesotho cheetah.

Cheetah is a word used to describe a person who is working to better their country, whether is be in human rights, free speech, reducing poverty or any other situation that needs improvement.  Keketso Sefeane, CEO of Lesotho’s National AIDS Commission, has called the entire population to help in the fight against AIDS in Lesotho.

A guide to HIV rates in Africa.  Credit: Cleveland.com

A guide to HIV rates in Africa.
Credit: Cleveland.com

According to TheBody.com, “casual sex and infrequent condom use are blamed for the scale of the epidemic in Lesotho, where almost one adult in four is HIV-positive.” Sefeane hosted a five-day workshop in 2007 to inform and plan to fight the epedemic. He “called for broad cooperation to fight the epidemic. Representatives of the ministries of defense, trade, public service, finance, health, and the cabinet attended the five-day workshop.” The widespread nature of this disease is one of the reasons why it is so hard to get countries like Lesotho out of poverty. Kaiser Health News reported that Sefeane said, “the disease’s impact on Lesotho’s work force, including the loss of skills and experience, decreases economic productivity and hinders the sustainable delivery of goods and services to the country’s population.”

The Water Project says a lack of clean water also negatively affects many residents of Lesotho. The website says “Lesotho’s rural and urban citizens do not have access to safe and clean drinking water and often have to walk for hours just to reach water access points that may or may not be working.”

Being landlocked hurts Lesotho's access to clean water.  Credit: World Atlas

Being landlocked hurts Lesotho’s access to clean water.
Credit: World Atlas

Lesotho is land-locked by South Africa, cutting off its access to clean water. A population without the basic necessities cannot be expected to be successful business people or contribute to an economy that needs to grow. 

A website devoted to Helping Lesotho names other problems holding the country down. Students cannot succeed in school because many haven’t had substantial meals and cannot concentrate. Many have to walk up to 2 hours just to get to school, and don’t have the clothes or shoes to stay warm. And child-headed households continue to increase as children attempt to care for their families.

However, the government is working to alleviate some of these problems. Freedom House ranks the country of Lesotho as ‘free’ on its freedom scale, while a number of African countries continue to fight for the same levels of freedom. Lesotho has numerous political parties that fight for power, with groups splintering when they don’t agree with each other. This shows the government allows freedom of opinion and the freedom of political parties to stand up for what they believe in. This is reflective of a government that allows the people to act freely and make their own decisions.

Just for interest, here’s a video of Prince Harry dancing with the children of Lesotho on a visit to the country.

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