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Page last updated at 10:40 GMT, Monday, 10 November 2008

Lesotho Aids diary: Counselling co-ordinator

The BBC is following the lives of seven people from the community of St Rodrigue, in Lesotho, who will share their hopes and fears as they each struggle to live with and work through the country's HIV/Aids crisis.


Mececilia Makhetha Leche | MSF counselling co-ordinator | Morija

My name is Macecilia Makhetha Leche, and I come from a place called Matsieng.

MSF counselling co-ordinator
Age: 26
Lives: Morija
Occupation: Counselling co-ordinator
Wishes
If this is about magic wishes then I want to live forever. Of course, I know that one day I will die. In reality, I believe that if someone dies, then someone else is born.
I also wish that all Basotho would get tested for HIV - not that the test was compulsory, but that education about the disease would reach everyone.
Finally, my third wish is for my family. I wish we could have a great life - maybe with a good house and a car - and able to go on holidays.

I got married last year and I have a baby boy, who I adore. His name is Thabeng Leche and he is 11 months old.

I did not know much about HIV when I was young as it was not taught in school. As a mother, I worry about my own son contracting HIV in the future.

I worry he might ignore the dangers and take risks. I hope that he has the same understanding I have about HIV now. I will try to make sure of it.

I have been working as an assistant counselling co-ordinator with the Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) team in Morija since December 2007.

Before this, I was a lay counsellor, so I understand the challenges they face in trying to support people living with HIV, motivate them to take their treatment, to not give up hope and to understand that HIV is not a disease to be ashamed of.

People can die because of stigma. They are not allowed to use the basins, plates or cups that others are using and are made to feel so bad that they start blaming themselves and regretting telling others they have HIV. They can get depressed and keep worrying about death.

Every day I travel with the MSF medical teams in 4x4 trucks to remote rural areas, visiting the 14 health centres we support. This includes the community of St Rodrigue, where we have a really strong team of lay counsellors.

When someone who was open about being HIV positive dies, people start to get worried. They start to think there is no hope.

But there is. Things are slowly changing. Things were even worse in the past.

The only place in all of Lesotho where people could get ARVs was in the capital, Maseru. But it was impossible for many to reach Maseru. So, people would get tested, then stay at home and wait for death.

My family did not used to think much of my work.

Now, because I have talked to them about what we are doing here and the impact we can have, they are very proud. I really love my job, because I know it can improve the lives of others.

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Macecilia Makhetha Leche gives us a tour of St Rodrigue



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