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A vital link

On a recent trip to a remote mountainous region in Lesotho, European Pressphoto Agency Photographer John Hrusa documented a man named Potso Seoete, who provides a vital courier service for his community.

His job: Transport blood samples by horseback and motorbike to be tested for HIV.

Three to four times a week, weather permitting, Seoete gets on a horse at 7 a.m. and rides for a half-hour to a staging area where he meets a motorbike driver, who gives him an insulated bag of samples to take to the clinic. It's a journey that takes three to four hours, depending on conditions, and it can't take much longer because if the blood samples he's transporting aren't kept at a constant temperature they will break down. During bad weather, the road to the clinic is impassable for everything except horses.

His job is funded by a new initiative called Horse-riding for Health. It was started by the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation and the Lesotho Ministry of Health. The program contracts people like Seoete to provide this vital link from remote communities to clinics.

After dropping off the samples, he will often be sent back with medications for the people he serves. His payment is 300 Loti, or the equivalent of $42 USD, which is enough to provide his wife, two children and mother with food.

Describing the service Seoete provides as essential, Photographer John Hrusa said, "Without these horses, the program would fall flat on its face."