The Malealea Development Trust
The Malealea Development Trust was established in 2002 , around the time that the HIV crisis reached its apex in Lesotho, leaving nearly a quarter of the population afflicted, and numerous children without parents. The staff is entirely local, on the ground daily, and they are truly the experts on what needs to be done to promote development in a sustainable way in the area and beyond. It is for this expertise that we work intimately with the MDT, providing financial support and coordination.
The needs of Malealea are urgent and numerous, so MDT organizes its efforts around four Focus Areas. The first is Health and Well-Being, focusing primarily on supporting the HIV+ members of our community in a holistic manner. Today, about a quarter of the population is HIV+, and while they have access to the antiretroviral (ARV) medication they need from the local clinic, living positively with HIV entails much more than mere access to medication. The MDT plays an active role in our community fighting stigma, getting people tested, ensuring that they have enough food to take with their medication, helping them to follow their specific drug regimens, and much more.
While HIV was rampant and growing from the 1990s to the early 200s, Malealea’s first ARV clinic was not opened until 2004, and even then it took years for the proper materials and training to make it into the mountains. These factors led to alarmingly high mortality and a devastating number of children losing one or both of their parents. The MDT’s second key area of focus is caring for these Orphaned and Vulnerable Children, who have not only suffered the severe emotional trauma of losing a parent but whose futures have also been put at risk by an epidemic outside of their control. They employ a social care worker who monitors their home and academic lives, and they also have a scholarship fund to send them to school. The MDT also stages events throughout the year to support their emotional and intellectual development. Additionally, there are children living with disability in Malealea for whom the MDT both advocates and provides financial support.
Education is the third area of focus. Students are dropping out of schools in Malealea at alarming rates. They are overcrowded, underfunded, under-supplied, and under-regulated. We provide the funds for the MDT to build and refurbish classrooms to reduce overcrowding and improve the learning environment. The MDT also provides services to supplement students’ learning outside of school, including a computer training program and a children’s library program.
Many of the children who should be in school must instead make time to assist their families eek out a subsistence living. The subsistence lifestyle is harmful for many reasons: there is a lack of safety net in case of poor yields, a lack of opportunity to improve one’s situation, and an inability to effectively respond to crises, among countless others. The fourth area of focus, therefore, is Community Development. These projects are designed to improve the productivity of Malealean people to help them generate income in a sustainable way and improve their quality of life.