Holiday packages to Lesotho will tell you about the amazing adventures to be had in this tiny ‘Kingdom in the Sky’. A beautiful country within South Africa, it offers stunning landscapes with mountains, vivid colours and picturesque mud huts with round thatched roofs. You might go pony trekking through the country, take a hike in the highlands or chill out at Afriski, one of Africa’s only ski resorts.

Look closer and you will see a hidden Africa, a side of the continent that is not mentioned in travel brochures. It’s a story of poverty, but not the familiar tale of parched landscapes and starving children. Here, people plant flowers around their doors. They wear thick traditional blankets with intricate patterns. It’s an extreme climate, including snow, baking sun and hailstones the size of golf balls. If you were passing through as a tourist, you would never know how hard it is to simply survive.

Appearances can be deceptive

Take Moliehi Mochelenyane, for example. If you saw her standing outside her house you would think she was a happy young mother, caring for her two children until her husband returned from work, but the reality is very different.

Moliehi is not the children’s mother. She is the sole carer for her nephews Thabiso, aged six and Rapelang aged four. Moliehi has tuberculosis and struggles to give the children more than two meals a day of basic maize meal and boiled greens.

The struggle to find a good job

Their mother, Moliehi’s sister, left eight months ago to seek work as a housemaid in Johannesburg, in neighbouring South Africa, so she could support the family. Although she works hard and sends home one third of her monthly wages, this is only R300 (£16). For poor farmers in this country of extremes, children grow up without their mothers for the sake of £16 a month.


Moliehi says: “As a small girl I had ambitions of being an accountant. I like working with books and adding numbers. I am now 24 and think that opportunity is passed. I can now only think about getting a job in the textile factories.” Even this job is beyond Moliehi’s reach, while she is the sole carer for her nephews. She does odd jobs for neighbours such as laundry or hoeing in fields, making R25-100 per day (around £1 - £6).

From isolation to community spirit

There is a new hope for Moliehi. She has started training with Send a Cow, a charity that helps poor farmers to develop their livelihoods. She says: “We were living individualistic lives as villagers, but Send a Cow has helped us to come together as a community and help each other.” Training in simple agricultural techniques has enabled Moliehi to grow spinach, carrots, mustard and beetroot. The family can now eat fresh vegetables and sell surplus produce. They are hoping to start keeping chickens in the near future for fresh eggs to eat and sell.

Moliehi and her sister are hopeful that the children will not have to make the same sacrifices: “I hope we can support them to study and go to college or university so they can live better than us.”

This is a hidden Africa, very different from the picturesque scenes in the holiday brochures. But it is a place of hope and change, and it’s more than worth a look.

To support farmers in Lesotho visit the appeal page now.