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 Friday 15 May 2009
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Mojalefa Lee, "Everything is condemning us"
February 2009 (PlusNews)

Photo: Kristy Siegfried/IRIN
Lee surveys his parched vegetable garden
MOHALE'S HOEK, Mojalefa Lee, 59, worked on South Africa's gold mines for 18 years before returning to his home in Mohale's Hoek in southwestern Lesotho. After a bout of tuberculosis in 2003, he tested positive for HIV.

He talked to IRIN/PlusNews about the difficulty of staying healthy when he can no longer afford to buy nutritious foods.

"I stopped working in 2002 when my contract ended; I haven't worked since then. In 2003 I got TB [tuberculosis]. I completed the treatment but I still had a rash and they advised me to go for [HIV] testing.

"My wife didn't understand how [HIV] came to me; she left. I don't know what happened to her. One of my daughters is attending school in Mafeteng [a neighbouring district]; the other is staying with me. My son died when he was 14; we don't know exactly why.

"I started on ARVs [antiretroviral drugs] when they became available from the government, but I can't afford to buy different food, like fruits and vegetables.

"Before, we used to get some food support from the World Food Programme but it ended last year [2008]. We have a small garden, but it's too dry. They ration the water during the dry season so I can't water the plants and they end up dying. My CD4 count [a test of immune system strength] is coming down.

"I'm not getting any help from family – it's not because they're stingy, but because they also have problems. Food, water, electricity – everything has gone up; everything is condemning us.

"On every job I did in the mines there was a lot of dust. I started as a clerk but the salaries were very good underground [so I moved]. We were always drilling, so it might be that [which caused the TB].

"This problem of ARVs - we go for check-ups every month, but some aren't attending because transport is expensive. People end up as defaulters because of not getting enough food.

"We realise [it] after they die, when we go to the house to prepare for the funeral and then we find the tablets - that's the problem with not getting support. Positive people need support, but there's no such thing here."



[The above testimony is provided by IRIN, a humanitarian news service, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations.]

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This material comes to you via IRIN, the humanitarian news and analysis service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations or its Member States. Republication is subject to terms and conditions as set out in the IRIN copyright page.