David Agnew: The Basotho, ‘the people,’ often owned just one or two blankets for both bedding and clothing — and they would sleep on the dirt floor near an open fire for warmth. There were no chimneys, so the smoke would fill the room and seep out of the thatched roof and peoples’ blankets smelled of smoke, often strongly. Tuberculosis was endemic.
Mwana Bermudes: Besides our daily emergency assistance to people who worked and trained with us, Karani Bermudes also assisted several women’s home births. Our vehicles often drove a two or three hour drive to the closest hospital when medical emergencies took place in our area and they needed transport. Later Plenty built a clinic at the Ha Makoae village supervised by Dr. Thomas Wartinger of Plenty U.S.A.
Mary Agnew: A woman walked to our village from far away, eight hours of walking, to seek medical help. She had gotten in a drunken fight with another woman and had been injured. I was the person with the most health/medical training, so I was the one people came to. When she came to me, she had a very dirty cloth held up to her mouth. When she took it down, I could see that her bottom lip had been all but bitten completely off. Now that was a sight! I was unable to help her, and told her to go to the nearest hospital, which was three hours by car or many more by foot.
In the first years of the project, Plenty had been told that we could not administer healthcare to the people of Lesotho. This changed after my family left, and Plenty was instrumental in setting up a clinic in the neighboring village. The fact that we were not to administer medical care did not stop the Basotho from coming to ask for it. We had a moral dilemma because the need was so great, and not helping seemed so wrong, but going against the mandate could jeopardize the project. So we came up with a solution, which was, if the matter was life threatening, we would help, which usually meant stabilizing the person and taking them to Quthing where the nearest hospital was. It became my responsibility to decide if the case warranted our help, not an enviable position.
One time someone came asking for help, saying their sister had fallen into a donga, a steep ravine cause by erosion. The only problem was she was way back in the mountains and only accessible by foot. We set off for the long trek; two Basotho men and me. I did not know much of the language (which is one of my only regrets), so we did not do much talking. The terrain was hilly, rocky, dusty, and the surroundings were exhilaratingly beautiful. I could not relax completely though because of the constant thought of poisonous snakes, of which there were two kinds. After three hours of walking, we came to a village of about six huts, and laying in one of them on a blanket on the floor was a very badly injured woman. Her head was wrapped in a bloody rag and her face was quite swollen, as was her right leg. She was unconscious, but could be roused. This was one of those times where it was a life and death situation. The men fashioned a stretcher out of sticks, rope, and cloth and carried the woman back the way we came. We loaded her into the bakki (truck) and took her to the hospital in Quthing. The people were so grateful for our help, and I was so humbled by their thanks.