AN orphanage run by the Roman Catholic Mission (RCM) is appealing for food donations and other forms of assistance to cater for its 68 food insecure orphans and vulnerable children (OVC).
Situated at Ha Buoasono in Berea, St Cecilia Roman Catholic Mission Orphanage has been hit hard by the El Nino-induced drought, leaving the 68 OVC food insecure.
The 68 OVC are part of over 600 000 people declared food insecure by government early this year, forcing Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili to appeal for international assistance.
The Orphanage’s project manager Father Augustine Mahlaku said the drought had left the centre food insecure despite donations from government through the Ministry of Social Development, partners in Slovakia and local corporates like Vodacom Lesotho and Brown Cash & Carry.
“We are running the orphanage on an empty tank. We are in dire need of food donations. In the past we used to grow our own vegetables but now we buy everything due to the recent drought,” Father Mahlaku said.
“The Social Development Ministry gives us an annual grant but it is not even half of what we need. As we speak, the orphanage is food insecure and we are already rationing the amount of food we give to our children.”
Father Mahlaku said the ever-increasing food prices also aggravated the situation.
He appealed to well-wishers to donate big three-legged pots to enable them to cut food preparation costs.
He said the orphanage spent approximately M2000 per month on cooking gas and that money could be channeled to food purchases if they got the traditional cooking pots.
The orphanage was established in 2009 to mitigate the effects of the HIV and Aids pandemic that resulted in several child-headed families in the area.
“Almost every weekend there would be a burial of an adult who died from HIV and Aids-related sicknesses. We were soon faced with the plight of HIV and Aids orphans,” Father Mahlaku said, adding the church responded by donating food parcels to the the orphans once a month, starting with 15 children.
He said they were soon overwhelmed by the numbers requiring assistance and “this inspired us to establish our own orphanage and directly take care of the orphans and vulnerable children’s needs”.
He said the orphanage housed children aged one to nineteen as this allowed them to instill discipline at a tender age, adding that all the children attended different primary, high and vocational schools as part of their upbringing.