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Christmas comes early for Mafeteng villagers


Chinese businessman Thabiso Cheng helps beneficiary 'Masajene Griffith after receiving her food parcels
Chinese businessman Thabiso Cheng helps beneficiary ‘Masajene Griffith after receiving her food parcels

Pascalinah Kabi


THE Chinese business community on Friday donated grocery parcels to 500 Mafeteng villagers left food insecure by the recent drought.

Each grocery parcel consisted of 12.5kg maize meal, 5kg wheat meal, a carton of fresh milk, 2 litres cooking oil, beans, toothpaste, packet of candles and matches, salt, sugar, washing soap, carton of toilet paper, loaf of bread and bottle of water.

The handover ceremony was held at Leshoboro Stadium and attended by Chinese Ambassador to Lesotho Dr Sun Xianghua and government ministers among other senior officials.

Addressing the gathering, Mafeteng District Disaster Manager ‘Mamonyako Koloti said the district was the hardest hit by the El Nino-induced drought, leaving 84 742 people food insecure.

She said the 84 742 people consisted of 16 948 families, with 57 percent coming from the rural parts of the district.

“Mafeteng by nature is a dry, desert-like district. However, this year it was worse due to the drought that affected the country earlier this year,” Ms Koloti said.

“The district only managed to produce 30 percent of the food needed for its residents’ survival.”

She said the food shortages resulted in price hikes, leaving thousands of families food insecure despite the 30 percent government subsidy on maize meal, peas and beans.

“The Chinese business community, through the Chinese Embassy, decided to give the 500 villagers from eight constituencies an independence anniversary present,” added Ms Koloti.

On behalf of the Chinese business community, Thabiso Cheng said the gesture highlighted the friendship between the two peoples.

“I have been living in Lesotho for 25 years, and I can safely say I am a Mosotho. The Chinese are happy to live in Lesotho, and want to assist in a time of need,” Mr Cheng said in fluent Sesotho.

“We started with Maputsoe, Leribe and now we are going to donate food parcels to 500 villagers from different constituencies.”

One of the beneficiaries, ‘Masajene Griffith, told the Sunday Express on the side-lines of the event the grocery hamper had taken a huge load off her shoulders.

The mother of four said of late she had been left with no option but to knock on the doors of her neighbours asking for mealie meal to survive.

“My main source of income is selling traditional beer, but my usual customers no longer buy as much because of the hunger in our village,” she said.

“As a result, my business is no longer viable, leaving me with no option but to rely on borrowing mealie meal from neighbours.”

Ms Griffith, who is also a widow, said she was always worried about the well-being of her seven-year old granddaughter who sometimes had to spend two days without a proper meal.

“Christmas has come early for me. For once, I am going to sleep peacefully at night not wondering where our next meal will come from. I cannot thank these Chinese people enough. They don’t know what they have done for me and my family,” she said.

For his part, Dr Xianghua said the Chinese government donated 2 200 tonnes which would be distributed to needy people including in Mafeteng.

“We also have Chinese medical doctors offering free HIV/AIDS, diabetic and high blood pressure medical services to you,” he said.

Dr Xianghua added the gesture was made a day after the Chinese business community also donated M600 000 to the government as part of its contribution to the golden independence jubilee celebrations

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