State Sponsored Care

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By Kabelo Mollo

It is bitterly cold in the kingdom at the moment. Whenever the mercury drops below zero my mind always wonders to our homeless community’s. How are they avoiding pneumonia and other such ailments at times like these?

 I had a really bad case of flu over the last little while and as I chugged back this concoction and that, I again wondered about those less fortunate. Is there even basic vitamin C for them to boost their immune systems? Our homeless communities break my heart; they are a truly marginalised grouping.

My brother often tells a story of something that was considered the greatest tragedy of our time, it wasn’t even that long ago. In the late 80s a man was found dead, having starved to death in what was a much smaller more tightly knit Maseru town. It was unheard of. Where was the sense of community that we so often trumpet? Yet, it had happened. A stain on everybody’s conscience and a reminder to assist those less fortunate whenever the need arose.

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My question today, is what of those with mental instability? What of those members of the homeless community who suffer from mental conditions that require institutionalization? Does the state or anybody answer to this set of people? It seems to me it has become completely normal to play “dodge em” with a gentleman walking down a main road, along the centre line.

Recently I had an incident where a vagrant-for wont of a better word-slammed my side view mirror while walking down the centre line of a main road. I hadn’t even seen him coming, and it all happened so quickly I couldn’t even get out the  car to exact retribution which was my first and strongest thought. Not why was the poor guy walking down the centre of a main road, not what problems he had, just that he had damaged my property and I wanted my pound of flesh from him. It was only afterwards having calmed down that I started to wonder about his safety and livelihood.

Isn’t it incumbent upon the state to ensure a character like that is kept safe in an institution where there are caregivers equipped to provide him the necessary observation? I believe Mohlomi Hospital offers very good service, how come they haven’t yet brought the gentleman for tests and observation? It’s not just him either. It’s happening with greater frequency that I come across those like him. In lieu of the family units, shouldn’t the state be stepping in to provide its duty of care? Which ministry would that even fall under? Perhaps social development? Either way, we have to ensure the safety of  our most vulnerable communities. That requires the participation of the state department answerable to this issue.

The question of mental health seems to remain somewhat taboo in these parts. I’ve not heard mental illness referred to as anything other than “bohlanya” and I suppose that’s the main contributor to the taboo effect. We have also seen rising numbers of suicide in our society. I have written on this subject matter before and perhaps it is right to double down on my earlier convictions that therapy is a cheat code, and everyone should do it.

Everybody should take of their mental health by finding a way to decompress and the best way is finding a qualified therapist. Too many try to drink their problems away and the solution isn’t at the bottom of a bottle. It isn’t going to appear at the end of a run I don’t think nor will it magically manifest itself if you lose yourself in psychedelics and the like. A trained therapist. That’s the answer. Having said all that, I do also realise that there are many ways to skin a cat…

I hope the state will see it fit to intervene where the white line gentleman and others are concerned, and I really hope that they will be provided with care and observation that will take them back toward “normalcy” for the lack of a better word. After that, I hope as a community we’ll rally around the homeless and most vulnerable at this time of the year.  These temperatures are definite killers.