MASERU – EVEN as a small 10-year-old girl, Puleng could notice that something had terribly gone wrong with her beloved mother.
She noticed that her mother, ’Maitumeleng Paanye, would visit neighbours and steal anything she would lay her hands on.
She would also fabricate long tales and outright lies that triggered bitter quarrels among family members and neighbours.
That was way back in 1995.
But Puleng, young as she was, did not fully understand what was happening to her mother until one day when she did terrible things she says she is not comfortable discussing in 1997.
It was only then that she realised her mother was mentally ill.
Puleng says the family found it extremely difficult to accept that their mother was suffering from a mental illness until she was admitted at Mohlomi Mental Hospital in Maseru.
She says it was painful to see her mother lose her job at a clothing factory because of her illness.
She would be on constant painkillers every day.
The headache became worse as painkillers could not stop the pain anymore until she asked for advice from a friend who was a nurse at Queen Elizabeth II Hospital.
Paanye, who is now stable after treatment from Mohlomi Mental Hospital, tells thepost that her friend referred her to a doctor who prescribed even much stronger painkillers.
After a month of using the painkillers, her condition worsened, she says. She returned to the hospital and told the doctors that the headache had spread to the centre and was now worse than before.
“The doctor told me that if the pain had spread to the middle of the head then it needed to be attended to by a professional psychologist to figure out what was really depressing me,” she says.
Paanye says family fights and stress might have contributed to her illness.
She says she was later admitted to Mohlomi Mental Hospital with severe depression and anxiety.
Her daughter, Puleng, now a 32-year-old married woman, says her mother went through pain over the years.
“People who have mental problems need to be loved and cared for, they need to be given that freedom to express themselves when they need to and no one can better understand their attitudes and behavioural change than family members,” she says.
She adds that while she has grown up and is now married, she has never forgotten what her mother went through.
She says her husband has also been very supportive helping her take care of her mother to ensure she takes her medication as prescribed by doctors.
“We know the signs of her meltdown and relapse. We know that when she starts visiting strangers and fabricating stories that cause people to fight we need to rush her to Mohlomi,” Puleng says.
She says sometimes her mother would go to the hospital voluntarily and they would be informed that she had been admitted.
“She even knows her patient number by heart unlike us who need to check it in her file back home,” she says.
Paanye’s story vividly captures the plight of the mentally challenged in Lesotho.
Paanye spoke on behalf of patients at Mohlomi Mental Hospital on Monday during the celebration of World Mental Day.
The day was held under the theme: ‘Dignity in mental health: Psychological first aid’.
Paanye was among those who are lucky to have recovered from their illness and was part of the group that gathered at the celebration in Maseru.
Other mental patients, at various stages of recovery, also attended the event.
She says good mental health is possible when a patient first accepts her condition and is faithful in taking her medication.
“You will not be well if you cheat or withdraw from you medication when you have mental problems. You need to be very faithful to them to have the best results,” Paanya says.
She says because of her faithfulness to medication she sometimes goes for three years without having to be readmitted to the hospital.
“I used to come here every week but now they see me after a long time,” she says.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the potential mental health and psychosocial consequences are well known as rates of mood and anxiety disorders, substance use, general psychological distress, social needs and impairments in social functioning increase among those exposed to crisis events.
’Mampho Malebo, a caretaker at Mohlomi, says they are doing all they can to help those affected by mental disorders.
“We show them that even though they are going through this mental challenge they are important, they are loved, they are beautiful. All of these positive attitudes we give to them helps them to become better in time,” Malebo says.
Malebo says mentally ill people need to be respected like everyone else, they need to have their human rights observed and respected accordingly.
“They also need to be told of any matters that concern their families and be allowed to share their views and feelings,” she says.
’Mapaballo ’Mile, the National Director of Aids Health Care Foundation (AHF), says most of the people who have been admitted or diagnosed with mental disorders are those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.
“People living with HIV/AIDS are at a greater risk of having mental disorders because some find it hard to accept their status when they discover that they are positive,” ’Mile says.
“They often wonder how they will break the news to their family members.”
’Mile says they are well aware that HIV/AIDS patients often go through depression and anxiety and they need to be supported and loved if they are to survive their ordeal.
“(We must provide) dignity to the mentally challenged people. The church and schools need to hold hands to make this an opportunity for change. Caring for a mentally challenged person is not easy, it needs concerted efforts,” ’Mile says.
Health Minister ’Molotsi Monyamane, says mental disorders can affect anyone because tragedy can strike at any time to anyone.
“It does not discriminate against anyone, it does not look at status, wealth or gender or religion,” Monyamane says.
Monyamane says one of the causes of high mental disorders is divorce.
“Divorce rates are very high these days and people have forgotten that it affects not only the divorcee and the divorced but the entire family members,” he says.
“All the family members need to have first aid care given to them.”
10 Things Only Kids Of Mentally Ill Parents Will Understand
I never understood that I grew up with a mentally ill parent until a few years ago. I knew very well that my dad was prone to outbursts and extreme highs and lows. As the oldest child in the divorce, I consciously remember taking on the brunt of his anger during his outbursts to shield my younger brother and sister from what was going on.
We all suspected that my dad was unstable at the time, but it wasn’t until recently that my sister found out he is now medicated.
I don’t know all the details of his condition, but I can promise you that he did need help. I really hope he has gotten help today. We are not close at the present moment because of everything I have just described, but we are working toward some sort of relationship.
I think the worst thing about growing up with a parent with a mental illness is the unpredictability. I don’t even know if my dad would remember the stories, or if he has blocked them out because they were so unpleasant, but I do remember him leaving me and my brother and sister several times when he was upset.
One time, he drove away and left us at a fast food restaurant with a group from church. I wasn’t old enough to drive yet, and I tried to put on a brave face, even though I was panicking inside.
I didn’t know if he was ever coming back or how we would get home. It was also before the age of cell phones, so I didn’t know who to call. He did come back about an hour later before anyone suspected that we were left there alone and acted like nothing had happened.
It’s tough to talk about these stories, but they need to be said. I came across an amazing anonymous post entitled, “What I want you to know about having a parent who is mentally ill.” Based on the post and my own personal life, I’ve compiled a list of 10 things only kids of mentally ill parents can understand:
- Having a mentally ill parent is like having a parent with a physical illness that you can’t talk about.
- “Unpredictable” is the best way to describe living with a mentally ill parent every day.
- You may not fear for your safety, but you’ll always fear the worst will happen.
- When the good days are good, they are really good. When the bad days are bad, they’re worse than you can imagine.
- The good times make you question if the bad times really were that bad… until the next outburst.
- Things can change on a dime.
- Public outings are stressful because you don’t know what will happen next.
- You feel guilty when you wonder if it’s better to have an absent parent or a mentally ill parent.
- You feel guilty when you wish for a physical disability because it seems easier.
- Even when you’re with your parent, you still feel so alone.
‘We lost direction in the ABC’
THE Mechechane MP, Nyapane Kaya, defected from the All Basotho Convention (ABC) to the Movement for Economic Change (MEC) contrary to the expectations that he would cross the floor with Nqosa Mahao’s new party, the Basotho Action Party (BAP). In fact, Mahao had earlier said Kaya was one of the MPs who would dump the ABC for his party. Kaya’s defection to the MEC took many by surprise. Our reporter, Margaret Katimbo, spoke to Kaya the day he joined the MEC. Below are excerpts from the interview.
What does it mean to you having to switch to the MEC?
It gives me special happiness and satisfaction, a special feeling of strength having changed parties. I joined the ABC from the very first day it was formed as a teacher, and I wasn’t even an active politician at the time. It was a vibrant party which filled people with a lot of hope. The problem, however, is that we abandoned the direction which we took with the people from the beginning after we felt cushioned.
I have to accept that the ABC has done a great deal of good things for Lesotho that I can point to but unfortunately there are times when people feel like they have reached a stage where they feel successful and the love for their nation is no longer there. I was aware that with my (ABC) party, there is no longer an interest to maintain the rhythm of working for the people. Having changed to the MEC, I feel that special kind of satisfaction because I trust that I will get the new strength to work for the people.
What attracted you to the MEC?
Well, in particular the MEC leader is one hard-working politician with vigour and a strong wish to produce results in this country. He makes and leaves a mark wherever he goes. Therefore, being close to him this much encourages me and gives me pleasure because I too am a results-oriented politician. I hope that we will work together with other politicians, not necessarily the MEC, in order to give the country the boost it needs. Even better, I worked with him in the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) where we tended to understand the underlying problem in this country. Corruption has made Lesotho what it is today so I want to align myself with people that fight against it.
By fighting against corruption, does it imply that the current government is corrupt?
There are still instances of corruption but not at the same levels as we saw during the so-called 4 x 4 government. There is some improvement on that but there are reports of corruption that we get especially when working in the PAC. There are still issues I still have to follow up with regards to allegations of corruption. There is a slight improvement I must accept.
Why did you leave Mahao for the MEC?
I must say I have always wanted to work with the MEC for a while now. It was simply a question of time. However, I still had strong alliances with Ntate Mahao’s group so much that by the time they were packing to leave the ABC it would have been thought that I would leave with them regardless of some developments which had already discouraged me. At some point, a WhatsApp group was created and my number was left out. There were other instances where I would get sidelined from meetings I knew they had.
As a matter of fact, I would learn from you reporters that they had held meetings amongst themselves without me. It is only about a week ago when they were preparing to leave the ABC, and they thought that I would leave with them but I told them No, I can’t go with you people. I told them that they had already sidelined me and that they no longer needed me. That is also when they told me the truth that the fact that I had stood for elections for the deputy speaker, it had been the decision rather conclusion in the government party’s caucus as to who would be elected deputy speaker.
However, there was a great encouragement from a number of them that I should stand which I did but little did I know that my group (that was just a small faction) within the ABC felt offended that I had stood for the post, although some had actually voted for me. So that is how and why I left them because to keep such alliances was no longer safe. My political career is now much clearer and this should be the last round in my political journey. Age also has caught up with me. However there are really no guarantees, something might arise in the future.
Bullet-proofing your online data
ROMA – Dr Makhamisa Senekane, a lecturer in the Department of Physics and Electronics at the National University of Lesotho (NUL) is assessing a new way of bullet-proofing your online information to ensure it is safe.
When you send sensitive information online, such as banking information, there is a way to hide that information from crooks.
“However,” he says, “some methods of hiding information (encryption) are very difficult to bullet-proof. That is why we are assessing a new way of bullet-proofing the security of your online experience.”
In the world of information hiding (encryption), you are sending the information from this side and your name is Alice.
And the one who receives the information on the other side is called Bob (Robert).
As far as Alice and Bob are concerned, one can sleep peacefully at night, these folks cause no problems whatsoever.
But then comes the third person called Eve (Eavesdropper, if you know what we mean?) and everything turns upside-down.
Eve is interested in getting the message that Alice is sending to Bob, so that she (Eve) can use this message for her personal gain.
That message may as well be a password you use to log into your online banking system.
If Eve is successful, you may wake up one day with all your money wiped off from your bank account in one stroke.
Now you know why the gurus, like Dr Senekane, are working day and night to make sure that that just won’t happen, if possible.
First, let’s consider one of the normal approaches which Senekane says it’s hard to prove their security.
Rest assured, we are using the simplest examples, in real life, it is more complex.
Suppose Alice is sending a number 10 to Bob on the other side of the online device.
But both know that Eve, that shady character, is waiting like a hungry shark on the route between them, to devour the information.
Hiding now begins.
The computer system generates the information called security keys.
Let’s say it gives the first key to Alice as the number 3 and the second key to Bob as the number 7.
“Prime numbers, those numbers such as 2, 3, 7, 11, 13, 17, the numbers that can only be divided by 1 or themselves, are often preferred because, as they get bigger, they are often hard to deal with,” Senekane says.
A bit of maths here but a simple one will suffice.
On the side of Alice, 10 is raised to power 3 times 7 (Remember 3 for Alice and 7 for Bob).
So 3 times 7 is 21.
So 10 is raised to power 21 which makes the number 1000000000000000000000, that is, 1 followed by 21 zeros.
When Eve the crook tries to steal the information, she comes across this ginormous number.
She is fooled because she doesn’t know that actually, that number represents 10.
When this mammoth number reaches Bob’s side of the system, Bob’s side has two advantages.
It “knows” Bob’s own key, 7, and it “knows” Alice’s key, 3.
Immediately, it can tell that there was a number which was raised to power 3 times 7—a number that was raised to power 21.
To arrive to this mammoth number (1 with 21 zeros), it can only mean that 10 was raised to power 21.
Now it is clear, Alice sent Bob the number 10!
But it appeared to Eve as a huge number she could not make sense out of.
Not so fast.
It is not difficult to see that should Eve have access to both Alice and Bob’s keys, that is 3 and 7 respectively, she doesn’t need to be a rocket scientist to realize the hidden number sent was actually 10.
“That is why we need to hide these keys also, 3 and 7 and that is the most difficult part,” Dr Senekane says.
“It is hard to prove mathematically, that Eve can’t find the keys and use them for her own benefit.”
That is why he is assessing the use of quantum physics.
In this case, another line is created between Alice and Bob to exchange keys.
But the keys are sent, not as numbers but as photons (very tiny particles that make up light).
The number of particles interpreted in the binary format, are translated to either 3 or 7 for Alice and Bob.
But here is the big trick for Eve.
Photons are quantum particles (that is enough).
When you try to measure them they become something else.
So when Eve tries to measure these particles, they lose their identity (from quantum to classical) and the Bob’s side immediately realises that Eve interfered and the whole transaction stops.
What matters, is not so much that Eve did not see the information.
It is that we can detect that she saw the information and we can stop her on her tracks.
So Dr Senekane and the team are working to ensure that the techniques used to generate these keys using quantum physics are indeed mathematically provably secure.
This is to ensure that if the techniques are implemented correctly, the only way that Eve can interfere without being detected is by violating the fundamental laws of nature; a feat that is quite impossible.
The electronic ticket
ROMA – THATO Rammoko and Mohale Molieleng, two National University of Lesotho (NUL) trained computer enthusiasts, are introducing eventspoynt, your electronic ticket to your favourite events.
It is fully paperless!
You buy your ticket online, you pay online with either M-Pesa or Ecocash or even your bank account and, listen to this one, you only bring your phone to the event!
No paper. Nothing!
Just your phone!
So you are one of those in the Born After Technology (BAT) generation who is baffled by the prevalence of paper-based tickets in the 21st century?
Or, are you, perhaps, one of those hardworking fellows who like organizing events but get frustrated when potential clients blame distance or even obscurity, of your ticket selling outlet?
Or maybe you are just a good old environmental enthusiast bewildered by the ever-declining forest resources that help keep our atmospheric greenhouse gases balanced—and you want to see paperless technology reinforced, bit by bit?
Thato Rammoko and Mohale Molieleng have a solution.
“I am a computer trained hip-hop artist,” Rammoko said in an interview.
“It turns out those double passions, computer and hip-hop, combine in him to create the product we are introducing today,” he said.
Everybody somehow knows a thing or two about Lesotho’s rising hip-hop music.
But have you heard a thing or two about the music from an insider?
Okay, listen to Rammoko relate.
“Outside my technology life, I am a hip-hop artist,” he said.
“Some people call our fast-moving music industry sotho-hop.”
In a nutshell, it is a version of hip-hop delivered in a combination of Sesotho and English or in Sesotho only.
It drives young people crazy!
But behind the vibe, pop and fanfare, there are glaring cracks.
“It is an industry that is moving fast, but with no financial rewards in the end,” said Rammoko.
‘In this industry, it is not uncommon for you to be famous, have your music played on radios, TV and all over, while you are broke.”
‘It is a survival industry!”
He added in a tone layered with determination to transform the status-quo.
Here are the problems.
Lack of proper copyright law means “you can sell just one CD for M100, and the next thing you hear your music played across the country, while you remain with that measly M100 you started with, in your pocket”.
Your CD has been copied!
So they have a strategy, they no longer make money through selling CDs.
They give them for free and then organize live events.
“But this alternative is no picnic either,” Rammoko added, holding his breath.
Fraud, fraud, fraud, is a problem here.
“When you are on a stage delivering music to your fans, you can see the hundreds and hundreds in the adoring crowd, only to receive income that clearly doesn’t correspond to the numbers.”
“It leaves you wondering, what happened there—we mean, like— at the gate?”
Oop! Eventspoynt jumps in at this point.
It is a brilliant solution, not only for hip-hop events but for all kinds of events.
Doing it is as simple as ABC.
You go online—register.
Then you choose your event, and the kind of ticket you want to buy, e.g. VIP, Goldern Circle or normal ticket.
Then you pay the given price with your M-Pesa, Ecocash or through your bank account.
During the paying process, a unique number, called order number, is generated.
This you use as a reference when you pay in any of those options.
Once they receive your payment, Eventspoynt folks confirm both by your email and by your order number and your e-ticket is sent to your email.
You can either print it (but please don’t, save the trees), or you can leave it on your phone.
When time comes for the event, you show up with your phone on hand [or your printed paper if you are the Born Before Technology (BBT)].
And here is Rammoko again: “In your e-ticket, there is a code called QR code.”
That is Quick Response two dimensional bar code, it determines if or not you will enter the event.
“We scan the code, in your electronic PDF ticket on your phone or on you printed paper. For scanning we use any phone that has a camera, as long as an app is installed there, to recognise the QR code.”
This time around, no money is exchanging hands.
Thus fraud is kept at bay.
It is stress-free for both the buyers and sellers of the tickets.
All you need to attend you favourite show is to have a phone and money in your M-Pesa account.
That is it!
It doesn’t get easier than that!
The beauty of this system is that it is versatile – all kinds of event organisers can use it as a tool.
And you can buy a ticket, while in any corner of the Mountain Kingdom, or beyond.
Eish! Those are NUL trained computer gurus for you!
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