Lesotho is approximately the size of Maryland and surrounded by South Africa. The terrain is rugged, there are few roads, and many villages are isolated and only accessible by foot or horseback. The rivers and waterfalls make Lesotho valuable to the surrounding arid industrial areas of South Africa. However, the country is currently experiencing one of the worst droughts in decades, drying up water supplies and leaving many residents reliant on outside aid for food.
Lesotho, formerly known as Basutoland, became a British colony in 1843. In 1966, the colony became the independent nation of Lesotho under King Moshoeshoe II. In 1998, hundreds of demonstrators protested the elections, claiming voter fraud. Troops from South Africa and Botswana came in to stop the riots and army mutiny. Today, Lesotho operates under a parliamentary constitutional monarchy and faces one of the highest rates of HIV infection in the world.
Lesotho has a free-market economy and uses both the South African rand and the Lesotho loti. It is dependent on imported food and materials because it has few natural resources. Almost everyone farms corn, wheat, peas, and beans, but not enough to feed themselves. Lesotho's economy is fragile. Many men work most of the year in South African mines to earn income for their families. The United Nations ranked Lesotho 127th out of 174 countries based on life expectancy, income, education, and health care.
Ketane is a remote community made up of small enclaves and villages scattered over twenty to thirty kilometers. Ketane is a 12-hour bus ride from Maseru, Lesotho's capital, but many of the homes are only accessible by horseback or on foot.
There are two chiefs and a local council that govern the area. There is also an active widows association called Diamonds of Ketane, pictured above with the solar oven.
Kokobe Primary School is one of ten primary schools in Ketane. The school has approximately 200 students in grades 1-7 and three classrooms. Of the approximately 200 students enrolled at Kokobe Primary, many have lost one or both parents. Most died from AIDS and/or drug-resistant TB, which are both epidemic in Lesotho.
New Classroom/Library under construction at Kokobe Elementary School.