Release date
May 12, 2008

Photo Tour: Caring for Lesotho's Orphans

May 12, 2008, —

By Kai T. Hill

Lesotho's mountain region is a hard place to grow up. It's even harder if you are an orphan, struggling to meet your own basic needs.

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This was the case for thousands of Lesotho's children who still find the spirit to smile, although they've lost either one or both parents to the AIDS epidemic. The disease has ravaged this small nation encircled by South Africa, as about 23 percent of Basotho are HIV-positive. At least 180,000 children—10 percent of the population—are orphaned. The region's harsh mountain terrain also prevented them from receiving much-needed outreach from humanitarian aid agencies. For many, having a decent meal was a slim possibility. Resources to go to school were even slimmer.

Two years ago, change came their way.

A collaborative project supported by Catholic Relief Services provides thousands of orphans in Lesotho's hard-to-reach mountain communities with their basic needs and overall care, including food, school, health care, uniforms, psychosocial support, educational needs and nutritional services. With funding from the Lesotho Government's National AIDS Commission and the government of Ireland, CRS and the Lesotho Catholic Bishops' Conference started the Mountain Orphan and Vulnerable Children's Empowerment project (MOVE). The project, which began in 2006, has drastically changed the lives of orphans in the communities of Bobete, Nkau and Nohana. The MOVE project reaches 6,000 orphans and vulnerable children and 3,000 of their household members.

In this photo tour, you'll have a chance to see what life is like for orphans and their caretakers and learn more about the range of services that CRS helps to provide. You can also read a blog dispatch from Bobete by photojournalist David Snyder, who traveled there in 2007.

All photos are by David Snyder for CRS.

Kai T. Hill is an associate web producer for CRS. She works at the Baltimore headquarters.