For six weeks in February – March 2022, 57 young adults participated in the annual Leaders-in-Training Impact (LIT) Program at the Hlotse Centre. As Help Lesotho’s most intensive program (24 training days), LIT provides an exciting opportunity to foster and then witness significant personal growth. Participants engaged in meaningful modules about self-awareness, communication skills, gender roles, power relations, and psychosocial support.
Without support, disenfranchised young people plagued by poverty, disease and isolation are likely to engage in unhealthy behaviour and may become a burden on society. LIT develops the capacity and skills of young people to identify and deal with the profound impact of AIDS and poverty in their lives, and then to become leaders, benefitting themselves, their communities and all of Lesotho. LIT graduates are more likely to get jobs due to their improved emotional intelligence and professionalism.
The LIT program targets participants who already have a strong foundation for leadership. In the 2022 cohort, 100% of participants had graduated high school and 71% had completed some form of post-secondary education. The average participant age was 24 years old.
LIT Program Outcome #1: Youth increase their resilience
Help Lesotho measures changes in resilience levels according to confidence-indicators. Participants report their level of confidence (Very confident, Quite confident, A little confident or Not confident) at the beginning and the end of the program.
- Participants with increased confidence asking for help 60% 60%
- Participants with increased confidence making good decisions 64% 64%
- Participants with increased confidence standing up for their rights 67% 67%
- Participants with increased confidence to set goals and work towards them 71% 71%
- Participants reporting significantly improved resilience 96% 96%
“I came here having the lowest self esteem and not thinking that I am good enough, but now I know I have what it takes to hold my head up and I believe in my capabilities.”
“The knowledge I gained turned me into a better vision of myself. I am now able to express my thoughts and feelings.”
“I am a changed person, I have better personal relationships because now I can communicate better, I am assertive and I take other people feelings in to consideration.”
LIT Program Outcome #2: Youth improve their knowledge and attitude toward HIV/AIDS and power sharing
All 2022 LIT participants felt that they improved their knowledge and attitude towards HIV/AIDS and gender equity (100% of participants ‘agreed’ or ‘strongly agreed’ with the four measurement indicators). The majority of participants had a good understanding of HIV/AIDS prior to attending the program, and 88% already knew their status. The program content focused on clarifying harmful myths surrounding HIV/AIDS and equipping participants with strategies to address stigma so they can better support people living with HIV in their communities. Help Lesotho has shifted our programming emphasis from gender equity to power sharing in an effort to emphasize the role and responsibility of all community members in sharing power – in the home, in relationships, communities, and throughout child-rearing. LIT participants engaged in meaningful discussions (pictured below) about what it really means to share power while examining their personal role and responsibility to contribute to the redistribution of power between men and women.
LIT Program Outcome #3: Youth learn skills and strategies to help their community and apply the strategies
Consistent with previous years, 100% of participants report that they learned strategies to help make positive change in their communities, and 98% of participants were already applying these strategies by the end of the program.
Participants Who Identify as Leaders:
Program Adaptations for 2022
- COVID-19 continued to impact the LIT Program, but participants reported feeling safe and informed. Participants and facilitators wore masks to minimize the risk of transmission, but there was no way to prevent the masks from hindering people’s ability to form strong connections to one another, particularly during emotionally-intense sessions. Participants proved a high degree of adaptability as they found ways to work together and support one another while following COVID guidelines.
- The 2022 cohort was the first to participate in a training module titled “Gender Identity and Sexuality”. In a highly religious country where this topic is taboo, this marked a big step towards inclusiveness. Participants were able to remain open and engaged in the discussion despite many of them feeling uncomfortable with the topic at first. In the end, participants were grateful for the opportunity to ask questions, learn important terminology, and better understand gender, sex, and sexuality.
Thandiwe is a 23 years old participant from the 2022 LIT program. In 2017 at the age of 17 while in grade10 she gave birth to a son, whom her boyfriend denied responsibility for. As a single mother and student, life became very difficult as she had to focus on her studies and take care of her child. Fortunately, with the support of her family, she was able to complete her secondary education.
“One day as I was surfing Facebook I came across the LIT advert on Help Lesotho page and immediately my interest to apply triggered. I have always been keen to acquire leadership skills and know much of the program itself because I have heard from my friends praising and talking good about it.
It is much interesting and fun to be part of the program as I am learning a lot from the facilitators and my peers. For instance, I did not know much about sexual violence issues however, with the skills I acquired I know my rights. Being single and young mother is way too much and I felt betrayed and heart-broken by my boyfriend whom I expected to have a family with but ever since joining the LIT program I allowed myself to open up and heal. I was not willing to further my studies but with the sessions, my interaction with the facilitators and peers I am hopeful about my future so much that I am willing to press on and go for remedial classes so that I could get admitted at the institution of higher learning. Right now I feel much alive, hopeful about my future and my self-esteem is boosted.”
Mamokete, a young woman from Butha Bothe, is like many other participants who applied for Leaders in Training because their friends who had been part of the program before advised them to, despite not knowing anything about Help Lesotho. What she received from the training was far from what she expected. She says the trainings were fun and therapeutic, and the interactions with participants and facilitators helped her face her fears of public speaking. Before the training, Mamokete said she had low self-esteem and confidence to share her thoughts within a larger group. She used to be hard on herself and always expected things to unfold quickly, failing which she would get depressed and withdraw. The training at large and one-on-one PSS sessions helped her gain confidence, be more resilient and have hope for her future. She is now able to set clear goals which will help her take her small business to the next level and she is willing to challenge herself to try new things she had always been scared to do.
Relebohile is a young man form Pitseng living in a family of 4 members. He just completed high school in 2021 and wishes to further his studies at a technical school. The training has been fun and very educational for him. Before coming to LIT, Relebohile said he used to get angry, shut everyone out and sometimes lose his temper by being aggressive. The training helped him to deal with issues that trigger his anger and he is able to communicate effectively with others and build healthy relationships with those around him. Lastly, he said having learned life skills will help him to become a better person to his family because he is going to put into practice what he had learned from the training. Relebohile now knows leaders never give up and that moto will motivate him to push through all sorts of challenges he come across.