King Letsie III speaks to the Springfield Rotary Club Monday about the partnership between the club and his country.

King of small African nation applauds ties to Springfield

The King of Lesotho was given a key to the city to celebrate the partnership between Springfield and his small African nation.

King Letsie III of Lesotho was given the honor Monday at the Springfield Rotary Club’s weekly meeting by city of Springfield Mayor Warren Copeland. The royal family was in town for a weekend of events including Wittenberg University’s 168th Commencement. The monarch gave the graduation speech.

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The local community is involved with the small country in several ways. It first started with a professor at Wittenberg University according Copeland.

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Professor Scott Rosenburg visited the country for research and witnessed its problems with food and health. Since then, students have volunteered in the country and have also packed food to be shipped to the country. he said.

The Rotary Club later became involved with homeless children and job development in the country.

“Lesotho is a country hit with a lot of issues. A lot of low income people. A lot of lack of nutrition and they have also been hit very hard by AIDS,” he said.

The country currently has one of the highest HIV/AIDS percentages in the world according to United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).

“Lesotho is emerging from a devastating HIV and AIDS situation where we have thousands of orphans mostly out in the streets,” said Tahbo Mosoeunyane, the Governance Specialist for the United Nations.

The partnerships the country has with the Rotary and university allows the country to develop resources to bring children to places of safety where they can get a secure meal on a daily basis.

Other representatives from the country were hand to tour facilities. Mosoeunyane’s wife is an architect and she has been tasked with designing the country’s first cancer treatment center. She and others were taken to Springfield Regional Medical Center to get an idea of what the small nation’s could look like.

Food and health are big challenges in the country but problems have subsided since the partnerships with the Springfield Rotary Club and Wittenberg University began in the last decade.

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