The prime minister of Lesotho today visited the University of British Columbia as part of a Canadian tour to raise awareness of his country’s incidence of HIV and AIDS – the third highest in Africa.
The Rt. Hon. Bethuel Pakalitha Mosisili, prime minister and minister of defence of the Kingdom of Lesotho, met with UBC President Stephen Toope to discuss how the country and the university could further partner to address the southern African country’s HIV/AIDS crisis.
Mosisili was accompanied by the First Lady, Mathato Mosisili, a special member of the UN task force on women and children affected with HIV/AIDS. She champions the cause of women and children in Lesotho, with a special emphasis on community activities to support and build capacity for women and children affected by HIV/AIDS.
Lesotho has about 100,000 AIDS orphans. Almost one-quarter of the country’s 1.8 million people are infected with HIV/AIDS.
The visiting delegation took in a private tour of the Museum of Anthropology before meeting with UBC students who recently participated in an international service learning project in Lesotho.
“UBC has a long and strong tradition of reaching out to the international community and we have greatly benefitted from our links with Lesotho,” said Brian Sullivan, UBC vice president, students. “Our students have been enriched by their experiences in working and learning in Lesotho as part of the Go Global international service learning program and the entire university community been enriched by the presence of students from Lesotho.”
UBC maintains ties with Lesotho through several programs and charitable fundraising activities, including:
- The UBC Go Global program offers an international service learning option in Lesotho. Last summer, six students helped design and build ventilated improved pit latrines in a rural area of Lesotho called Qacha’s Nek. This was done in partnership with a local community organization and in addition to building the latrines, involved training local women and youth in the design and building process. For more information, visit: www.publicaffairs.ubc.ca/ubcreports/2009/09aug06/learning.html
- St. John’s College Outreach Committee undertook a grassroots initiative that raised $2100 for egg-producing chickens for Mohoma Temeng, a community-based organization. This organization was founded by Mathabo Tsepa, a former doctoral student at UBC who has now returned home to Lesotho to teach at the National University of Lesotho. The group aims to improve well-being and promote food security in the community of Ha Mpiti, which has been severely affected by HIV/AIDS.
- UBC Pharmaceutical Sciences students regularly raise money to support sub-Saharan African communities devastated by HIV/AIDS through a sponsored run organized by an NGO based on Saltspring Island, the Saltspring Organization for Life Improvement and Development. Funds are used in part to support a community clinic at the Phelisanong Disabled HIV/AIDS Orphans and Vulnerable Children Community Project in Lesotho.