What wouldn’t you do for your grandchildren? The answer for one grandmother from Lesotho, a tiny country in the south of Africa, is striking. Every day is a labour of love to keep her grandchildren alive, let alone provide for their future.

Mrs Matseki Moroanyane is 55 years old. Her husband died a few years ago, having contracted HIV/AIDS in the mines of South Africa, a disease which he passed on to her. She takes retroviral medication but still suffers from bouts of illness and she is painfully thin. She doesn’t miss her husband saying: “In those days, when he was still alive, life was even more difficult for me and my children because he used to spend all his money with other women. My heart used to be painful.”

Mrs Matseki’s grandsons Seithathi aged 11, Hlompho, aged six and her granddaughter Karebelo, aged two live with her. Seithathi’s father went to South Africa in search of work three years ago, but no one has heard from him since. Hlompho and Karebelo’s mother Rethabile also lives in the household, but she is often too sick from HIV/AIDS-related illness to care for the children or hold down a job.

A woman who will not give up on her family

Despite her own ill health, Mrs Matseki does odd jobs to earn money - washing, hoeing, and cleaning. She earns enough to buy basics like cooking oil, maize meal and salt. In the small family garden she grows carrots, beetroot, spinach and sweetcorn. It’s usually enough for two meals a day, although sometimes there is only enough for one. Mrs Matseki says: “I always thank God that I have kids who do not ever complain when there is no food as we sometimes go to bed without eating.”

Like grandmothers the world over, Mrs Matseki is not going to give up on her family. She has enrolled on a training programme with development charity Send a Cow so she can learn how to grow more vegetables and keep chickens for fresh eggs. Although it is hard work, she is already seeing results. Techniques like composting and using natural pesticide make vegetable crops bigger so Mrs Matseki can eat more, which in turn helps her digest her anti-retroviral medication.

Selling vegetables with a twinkle in her eye

Some of Mrs Matseki’s neighbours are sceptical about her training; they think she has to work too hard. Mrs Matseki listens to them say this as she sells them surplus vegetables, a twinkle in her eye.

The eldest two grandchildren already know what they want to be when they grow up - a soldier and a nurse. Mrs Matseki knows they need an education to do this, and they rely on her to buy uniforms and school shoes. For the love of her grandchildren, Mrs Matseki gets up each morning to face another day.


You can support farmers in Lesotho by visiting the appeal page.