For 50 years now, the U.S. Peace Corps is committed to building capacity of organizations and communities to address the multitude of issues surrounding the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Lesotho. Under Peace Corps Community Health and Economic Development program, Volunteers are working with various Community Based Organizations, Non-Governmental Organizations, Government Ministries and communities in all the districts. Under the CHED Program, Volunteers work as HIV/AIDS Advisors, Permaculture/Nutritionist Advisors, Youth Advisors, Vocational School Advisors, and Small Business/Income Generation Advisors.
Since its establishment in 1967, nearly 2000 American volunteers have served with Peace Corps Lesotho, today about 90 volunteers work in all ten of Lesotho’s districts on long-term development needs in two key program areas, 1) Education and 2)community health and economic development; and support community based projects related to HIV/AIDS, permaculture, nutrition, small business, youth, and sports.
Peace Corps Volunteers who are HIV/AIDS Advisors in Mohale’s Hoek, and Leribe districts have worked on developing sustainable programs to prevent HIV/AIDS infection in their districts. Through the work of the District AIDS Task Forces in Leribe, the Volunteer assisted the DATF establish a condom distribution program with the local transportation associations in Hlotse, Leribe. As a result, a significant number of taxis in Leribe have committed to distributing free HIV/AIDS prevention pamphlets and condoms, thus distributing more than 25,000 condoms since March 2005.
With the help of the Volunteer, the Mohale’s Hoek District AIDS Task Force created a program to supply the Police Department and most of the taxis in Mohale’s Hoek with protective, latex gloves. In case of vehicle accidents, the Police, taxi drivers and taxi conductors will be able to reduce their risk of exposing themselves to blood when treating injured passengers.
These are small, but significant examples of how Peace Corps Volunteers help communities build capacity to organize and implement sustainable prevention programs.
For more information about the projects in Lesotho please contact the Peace Corps Office, Maseru +266 22-313871.