News Story

Disaster Relief in Lesotho

A tornado the first part of July 2012 left many homeless as it swept through a small village in Berea, Lesotho. 85 homes were destroyed and approximately 500 people were affected by the storm. Roofs were blown off and walls were caved in leaving homes soaked with water and mud and no way to stay warm in the winter that lay ahead of them. Everything they had was soaking wet, damaged, and freezing temperatures filled the night.

The Red Cross in Maseru, Lesotho, brought in tarpaulins to cover corners of the damaged homes, others made tents out of the tarpaulins to shelter them from the elements. The funds of the Red Cross are limited, so there was a great deal of concern for these people. Some were relocated to homes of family and friends while they decided what steps to take for their future, but many were left victims of the cold.

Elder and Sister Murdock from Durban, South Africa, Public Affairs Missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, were visiting with members of the Church in Masianokeng, Lesotho, heard about the tornado. They made an appointment with the Red Cross in Maseru to learn more about the disaster. Much information was received from the Red Cross, after which the Murdocks were sent to Teyateyaneng, Berea, Lesotho, to meet with the Red Cross and Disaster Management Authority (DMA). They were shown pictures of the destroyed village and discussed the needs of the victims. DMA told them "these people have nothing, they lost everything." There was a great need for blankets to protect them from the cold, along with personal hygiene supplies.

Murdocks contacted the Church Humanitarian Missionaries in Johannesburg, Elder and Sister Peterson, and informed them of the disaster. When members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints learn of a need they immediately go to work to relieve the people involved. The missionary couple stationed in Ladybrand, Elder and Sister Holt, worked with members of the Church in Lesotho under the direction of the Humanitarian Department of the church, to purchase 500 blankets for the victims. They, along with the Red Cross of Maseru, the Red Cross of Teyateyaneng, full-time missionaries (Elders) for the church, and Elder and Sister Peterson, delivered the blankets on 21 July 2012. "The people were so grateful, and sang us a song to show their appreciation," said Sister Holt. The Church members, in return, sang two favorite hymns, "The Spirit of God" and "I am a Child of God."

On Saturday, 28 July, members of the Maseru Congregation of the Church put together 250 hygiene kits to be delivered on 31 July to the hurricane victims. Elder and Sister Holt arranged for the kits to be put together and also provided the truck to deliver the kits.  Elder and Sister Murdock were able to join with Elder and Sister Holt to deliver the kits to the village.

The Murdocks and the Holts, along with the Red Cross and DMA workers, were greeted by four of the tribal chiefs, and a member of Lesotho Parliament.  The disaster victims again sang a song and gave a prayer of thanksgiving for the help they have been able to receive.  It was another happy day for these people, who are given a little hope by knowing that they are cared about.  Although they may be lacking in most worldly items, they are not lacking in smiles and hugs.

When asked why the Church took such an interest in the suffering of these people, Elder Murdock stated, "We believe in Jesus Christ. He served those around Him, and we as Christians desire to be like Him by serving those in need."



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