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After flying across the Atlantic Ocean and riding eight hours in a bus through Africa, Doane College Chaplain Karla Cooper finally reached her destination: Lesotho.
In Lesotho, the average life expectancy is 35 years as it is home to the highest incidence of HIV/AIDS in the world.
Cooper recently spent 10 days in Lesotho on the Faith Formation and Healing Mission. Cooper was part of a 70-member delegation of the African Methodist Episcopal. More than 10,000 pounds of medical supplies, books and gifts were brought by the group. They were also able to see more than 1,000 people go through the clinics they set up. Cooper and each member were paired with 70 little girls to whom they gave backpacks filled with gifts.
"We took this mission as a way to set up medical clinics and healing rooms, psychological counseling and celebration of the ‘Girl Child'," Cooper said. Cooper explained that the "Girl Child" is often abused in Lesotho because of the perpetuated myth that if a man has sexual relations with a virgin, he would be cured of HIV/AIDS.
For Cooper, the high point of the journey was meeting her "Girl Child", Reabolohe Kresa.
"We instantly bonded," Cooper said, "In fact, she looks like she could be my child. To see her light up as she opened up a backpack that was just for her was unbelievable."
Cooper said an important part of this mission is not just promoting awareness about HIV/AIDS, but to help find the cure for the disease.
In November, Cooper will go on another mission trip, this time to India.