Mamolelekeng Nkoebele is a remarkable woman. What makes her different? She’s 82. And she’s single-handedly raising five orphaned great grandchildren by herself.
Mamolelekeng lives in Teyateyaneng (commonly called TY) about 40kms from Lesotho’s capital, Maseru. Like 68% of Lesotho’s population she lives in a household defined as “poor”, meaning that Mamolelekeng cannot feed, clothe and educate her family. They survive on her pension and child support grants totaling just over US$50 a month.
But that hasn’t stopped Mamolelekeng.
“We used to live in a shack with holes in the roof,” said Mamolelekeng. “When it rained we put buckets around to collect the water. The three boys slept in one bed. There were four of us on the floor. We were packed like sardines. We didn’t have a choice.”
Poverty runs deep in Lesotho with about 40% of about 2 million inhabitants living below the international poverty line of US $1.25 a day. However, being orphaned and poor is even worse. Orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) often live in unhealthy living conditions, are exposed to abuse, and struggle to access education and basic services. That’s why Mamolelekeng took them all in when their parents died.