Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Reach Out

This morning I woke up and got ready for a day at church. Church here is much different than churches I have been to at home. Generally, in Canada the service is about an hour to an hour and a half including music. Today I was picked up around 9:30am to drive to the Apostolic Faith Mission in Buthe Butha and arrived home around 3:30pm. When I arrived, the church was just beginning to fill up but as we walked up the dirt road I heard the music loud and clear. Basotho are remarkable singers, very talented musicians and make you want to dance (they are also wonderful dancers).

I walked into the church and was ushered to sit near Pastor James and ‘Me Matsepo. I stood up and danced along to the beautiful music that was being played, took some photos and the church began to fill up. I met a lovely woman who told me she just turned 82 and that she was the wife of the Pastor before Pastor James. Music continued for some time, with beautiful voices belting out high notes. As I looked across the church, I saw Mamokhele. She stood out in the crowd in a remarkable way. She was wearing a red dress with red lipstick. At that moment she went from the silly girl I knew, to a stunning young woman. As in everyday of her life, she was shining bright in the crowd. She stood out in the best way. 

Then, Pastor James took the microphone and the attention of everyone. He is a very animated, powerful speaker. He raises his hands, he walks around the stage, he calls upon people, he sings, he shouts and he holds your attention.

Before he began preaching, he welcomed me from Canada and thanked Bracelet of Hope for our work. He spoke for some time about how when he began, he had a calling to do something for the children who were left behind. It started with him looking for land and buildings, but the man who he was asking in Tlhakuli was asking far too much in rent. Hours after he had spoken to him, someone called to offer their abandoned homes which simply needed new thatching of the roofs. After the roofs were thatched, he looked for mattresses. He wanted new, good mattresses for the children but when he arrived to look at prices, those too were a lot of money. When asked how many he needed, he told the owner he needed 35, and the owner donated all of them to him. He said through his faith that God would provide for the children, many things came together, and eventually he met a doctor, named “Doctor Anna Marie” who visited Lesotho and together they began to partner to form what is now known as the Bracelet of Hope and AFMSDD Foster Home projects.

He said when he arrived at Lerobane and watched ‘Me Candice play with the children, he was so grateful and happy to see how far we have come from the days of hoping and praying for Tlhakuli and mattresses. He looked back on all of the struggles and hardships it took to get to where we are today and is proud and happy for the homes, the children, and the support we have now. As he spoke, I looked over and saw little Ntaoleng smiling in the corner with the Sunday School children.

He went on to tell the story of the man with leprosy and how the lepers were outcasts of society, thought to be dirty, contagious and dangerous. When Jesus came upon the leper, the leper put out his hand and asked Jesus “are you willing?” He was asking if he was willing to touch him, to support him, and to heal him.

Pastor James went on to discuss that living with sickness is not God’s will. If you are sick, it is not because God wants you to be sick. You have not been chosen by God to be sick. He does not want you to own your sickness, but rather give it to God, and have faith that you will be healed. Jesus reached his hand out to the leper and healed him on the spot. Pastor James talked about always thinking in that way, what would Jesus do?

This makes me think of the work that the many doctors and nurses were doing in the beginning of the outbreak of HIV and AIDS. Many people feared that just by touching someone with AIDS you could become sick and die. Men and women died from the disease and it spread across the world causing devastation wherever it went.

It took brave, caring individuals to reach their hands out and say, I will do my best to heal you, to support you, to save you from this disease and not ostracise you like the community has. Because of those doctors and nurses, today in Canada and in many places around the world we have remarkable health care, drugs and support for people living with HIV and AIDS.

In Lesotho, the population living with HIV is about 1 in 4. This has left a tenth of their population as orphaned children. In a country of only 2 million, this means that 200,000 children are orphaned, that is larger than the population of the entire city of Guelph. UNAIDS reports that 36.1 million people are now living with HIV/AIDS, over 13 million children have lost one or both parents to AIDS and nearly 22 million people have died of AIDS related causes since the epidemic began.

UNAIDS are working collaboratively towards a 90-90-90 solution by 2020. This 90-90-90 goal means that 90% of the population on earth will be tested, 90% of the population will be treated and 90% of people who are HIV+ will have an undetectable viral load, meaning the anti-retroviral drugs are being taken to suppress the disease to an undetectable amount in the body, making people able to live long, healthy lives.

As I think of the millions who have died, and the many who are still living in Lesotho who either have not been tested, or do not have access to the anti-retroviral drugs, it gives me fire in my heart and a kick to stand up and do something.

We are currently caring for the aftermath of this disease by supporting the orphans left behind, but we need to do more. Together as people, we need to stand together and look to the countries around the world who do not have the same access to health care and drugs. How do we prevent this disease from taking brilliant minds away from us? How do we prevent this disease from taking our women and children? How do we prevent this disease from taking moms and dads and leaving more orphans behind?

We come together. We act.
Support organizations who do on the ground, difficult work. Volunteer your time. Educate yourself. Read about the Global Goals. Read about the goals of UNAIDS.

It can be very easy to think about HIV and AIDS as a disease that is almost cured, because in Canada, we benefit from remarkable healthcare, but there are places all over the world where some of those 36.1 million people do not have the medication or support to sustain life.

The UNAIDS goals of 90-90-90 are not lofty. They are very realistic but it will take hard work. It will take people reaching out their hands and saying, YES! I can do something! You do not need to be a doctor, a pharmacist or a development worker. You just have to have the drive in your heart to decide that you have something to give back to a disease that truly can be eradicated in our lifetime.

Let’s come together and reach our hands out to those who need us, because somewhere along the lines, someone has given us a lift.

For more information about Bracelet of Hope and Foster Homes, please visit or contact me at

1 comment:

  1. Great information, thanks for your work Candice.