Letters from Lesotho #3 – 2023

Letters from Lesotho #3 – 2023

Greetings Help Lesotho family,

As I begin my work with this remarkable organisation, getting to know the staff and learning about the programs in more depth, it’s a pleasure to share my early observations with you. I lived the later 8 years of my childhood, age eight to sixteen, in Lesotho; the adopted daughter of Canadians. My mother was a teacher in the Lesotho school system, and my father an Anglican priest recruited by Bishop Tutu and then Bishop Mokuku to work from St James Cathedral in Maseru. Our years in Lesotho were very formative for my life and for my family. Returning now as a guest and a professional with Help Lesotho, is an absolute joy. I bring my competencies in leadership development, programing, and strategic management, and look forward to more defining years ahead.

It was a delight to meet the Help Lesotho team, and finally meet more colleagues in person, and put many names and faces together. It should not have been a surprise that an organisation expert in emotional heath and wellness would create such a bright welcome. It was nonetheless so appreciated to receive a welcome that was written, spoken, sung and danced! And that took place in the three offices of Help Lesotho – Hlotse, Pitseng and Maseru. Kea leboha and thank you❤️

I am so enjoying beginning to know staff, the arc of their professional journey, and their ‘Help Lesotho story’. Program Manager Ntate Sello Matsoso started as a participant in the Leaders in Training (LIT) program, and is now one of HL’s senior staffers and highly skilled in facilitation and program implementation. His perspectives, voice and leadership have reach and impact, and, together with other staff, are instrumental in shaping the program offerings of Help Lesotho. Finding himself in a woman-centric organisation, one of Ntate Sello’s callings is advocacy for the rights of boys and development of men. He challenges the notion that patriarchy just empowers men, when more specifically it advantages them problematically, often resulting in poor choices and decisions. He shares the example of herd boys, sent, sometimes as young as six, to look after the family’s animals, and thereby losing access to education, socialization and the provisions of the Lesotho labour code. All of these rights (and lack of access to them) shapes their future development. The Herd Boy program offered by Help Lesotho is an offering to enhance herd boy access and inclusion and has built on insights and skills of Ntate Sello and others. I look forward to getting to know all the staff through the opportunities and responsibilities we have ahead.

Julia and Sello

Visiting a partner community in an electoral district of Berea, I accompanied ‘M’e Felleng and ‘M’e Mamorena, Help Lesotho program officers, to observe a training day of the Safer Communities project. The goal is to create safer communities by building awareness of gender based violence with local leaders and service providers, and to widen the base of who will take action and respond in instances of violations.

Present for the training were community leaders, including village health workers, police, priests, teachers, and traditional authorities. As ‘M’e Felleng checked in about how the holiday period had been, several cases of abuse were raised. The discussion about how the perpetrator(s) intimidated those who should/would report was vigorous. Easy answers were not sitting at the surface, and the need to challenge norms was explored by the group. I was encouraged to learn that Lesotho’s legislature has recently (July 2022) passed a Counter Domestic Violence Bill with improved legal provisions for vulnerable people, and consequences for gender-based violence. However, we know that civil society and particularly community based programs such as Safer Communities are crucial.  Accordingly, these trainings raise awareness of rights and roles and responsibilities related to gender based violence and help increase commitment to provide action and support. Ultimately this learning group emerged with a strategy for response as well as plans for how to support for all involved.

Julia with PWRDF program group for safer communities

Safer Communities is funded by the Anglican Church of Canada’s Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF). This is of particular interest to me, given my father’s work for the Anglican Church, which was to build the theological capacity of people already in leadership roles who wanted to be self-supporting priests in their own communities. Some interesting parallels in the leadership development approach.

Country Director, ‘M’e Mamoletane and I have had multiple opportunities for meetings and travel, allowing for program and operational discussions, as well as some time to get to know each other. One trip was to the Pitseng Centre to meet team lead ‘M’e Thoala and understand more about the reach of the work. A highlight of the past year was onboarding and integrating a large group of children who were struggling due to a significant lack of adult support or guidance. The young students were testing boundaries only to be met by ignorance or harsh punishment. ‘M’e Thoala’s team designed intake sessions to get to know them each personally. They developed a system for not only monitoring their progress but also to start relating and connecting with a large group of young people as individuals, with individual needs for counsel and care. With her colleagues ‘M’e Itumeleng, ‘M’e Tapelo, Ntate Thabo, Ntate Peter, and ‘M’e Malehlohonolo, they move constantly between implementation and reflection so ongoing refinement of everything from programs, to resources, to grounds keeping continues to evolve, the impact of which is truly inspiring.

Julia and Mamoletsane
Julia at Pitseng

Flowers at Hlotse CentreIt has been great to be with ‘M’e Peg in Lesotho. One afternoon she took Ntate Thabo (Grounds Keeper) ‘M’e Mamoletsane and I to walk every inch of the Hlotse Centre; mapping all the property history and the evolution of buildings. Why are terraces installed behind the support centre? How have we used indigenous grasses to retain the soil and protect building foundations? How the water is separated, stored, conserved and used? How to monitor fences, surface rainflow, enviro loos, thatch, and inspection of buildings for cracks – she covered it all with us. We even learned about dreams for the land secured next to the Hlotse Centre to one day host an obstacle course for adolescents and youth. The care and consideration M’e Peg has given the Centre exemplifies her personal engagement and contribution. And as she described the role of the infrastructure she anchored it in people: “these buildings and grounds are lovingly maintained to create a sanctuary where people can play, express themselves and find healing”.

This year there are 55 diverse young people in the LIT (Leaders in Training) program. In this 60-day intensive program, this cohort of youth is developed as peer-to-peer agents of change in their communities. I joined them for several of their sessions over the past days and found them and their program inspiring. The group is keen, questioning, responsive and engaged. Building skills to navigate challenges such as suicide and grief, as well as finding ways to challenge ideas around healthy and unhealthy relationships and the rights of women, children, and vulnerable people.

I have thoroughly enjoyed different chats with the Leaders in Training group. We talked about role models growing up, playing a game to take different physical and then verbal positions on controversial statements mostly related to gender roles and expectations. As a cohort, they revel in the opportunity to differ, debate and have laughs while taking serious stands. Having delivered many leadership development programs, and as mum of an 18-year-old, I love the LIT content for participants. They are invited to normalize talking about difficult subjects and challenged to be part thereafter of breaking the silence. This space for skill building, introspection and goal setting promotes connection to self and ultimately contributions to community. I look forward to being with them again over this month ahead. 

Julia with LIT participants

As I consider my first days in Lesotho, what stands out for me, of course, is that this is also a period of transition. For individuals, transitions give us experience with change. When well managed (think rites of passage, ceremonies, celebrations) these transitions can usher us into a new chapter and new roles with preparation and confidence and a supportive community. For organisations also, transitions can offer the same, and in my view, this is wonderfully underway with Help Lesotho. While the team is delivering on HL programs, preparations are also underway to celebrate Peg as founder, leader and friend.

I am so pleased that I can join ‘M’e Peg this month, to hear her Help Lesotho stories, to be introduced to the HL family and to be brought into this rich community. Thank you for the opportunity to join the team and to help honour ‘M’e Peg. For ways for you to join the celebrations please stay posted for events in Kingston (April 13), Toronto (April 15) and Ottawa (April 22).

Julia signature

– Read Letter #2 2023 – 
– Read Past Letters from Lesotho – 

Letters from Lesotho 2023 – #2

Letters from Lesotho 2023 – #2

Lumelang (Greetings) to you all,

News of the winter storms across Canada makes me even more grateful that the rains have stopped this past week, unveiling the magnificent Maloti Mountains of Lesotho. Everything is green and lovely. I eagerly await the blooming of sloping fields of wild cosmos– nature’s dazzling display of pink and purple.I wish you had been in Pitseng with me this past week. This stunning valley rests at the foothills of the mountains, in which resides our smaller centre. I happened on a Grandmother Day, always a great delight, as is the opportunity to chat about their challenges and successes. They were bursting to tell me how much the program was changing their lives. Dear, dear souls!

I had arranged a meeting with half a dozen talented community leaders and retired professionals I have known for years. Three are former school principals from our twinned schools. We met in our ‘spiffy’ new library to discuss how they might involve adults and seniors in the village to come to the library for adult literacy classes, tutoring, book clubs, to be read to, discuss concerns and solutions, learn to use a computer, join an exercise class, etc. Although rare here for adults to believe they could/should continue to learn and grow, we talked about the urgent need to keep mature people stimulated and have a break from their tireless work to survive. We talked about cognitive decline and depression. Ironically, at the same time in the other building, the grannies were discussing dementia! They had such great ideas. They decided to call the initiative, ‘Matlafala’, which means ‘Stay Energized’ in Sesotho. A perfect name!


Our annual and remarkable Leaders-in-Training Program is in full swing. How they love these six weeks of support, building healthy friendships and resilience. One afternoon, the staff set up on the lawn to both divert and provide access to HIV/AIDS testing and family planning sessions. They started in the training room to hear from our partners, Phelisanang Bophelong HIV/AIDS Network and the Baylor College of Medicine, to learn of prevention and treatment before going out on the lawn to enjoy danceable music and activities designed to distract participants from focusing on who went to the tents for testing. It was really fun and lively – they loved it. Of the 55 youth who tested – all were negative! Isn’t that incredible. Our job now is to help them stay negative! Interestingly, one in five went for family planning advice.

On Monday morning, the staff put on a touching traditional welcome for Julia Thompson, Help Lesotho’s new Executive Director. Both Julia and the staff were delighted to meet each other after such long anticipation. The staff sang, made heartfelt speeches and gave Julia a traditional broom, a handmade gift and even messages from the beneficiaries. As they meet individually with Julia, both I and the staff are so happy to have a new leader who knows and cares so much about their culture and programs. Julia will be sharing her impressions in the next Letter from Lesotho and I know you will enjoy hearing her thoughts.

Friday, we welcome our special guests from Canada. Joanne Beveridge and Campbell Osler are two dear friends and supporters since the very beginning. All of you who receive Help Lesotho calendars will know Campbell Osler Realty, its key sponsor for 18 years. Finally, they will see our work firsthand. Jennifer Parr joins us for her nineth trip to Lesotho. Jennifer, our first board chair for ten years, remains a close friend who constantly volunteers her expertise for Help Lesotho. Deb Ruse returns to Lesotho and is a key member of the amazing Kingston Grandmother Connection which provides most of the funding for our granny program. Nicole La Prairie, also of the Kingston Grandmother Connection, and Varsha Koneri Grant, from Toronto, are both teachers and so looking forward to spending time with these adorable little ones here. We are excited to have them.

As the school year starts in January, we have all been very concerned about the disruption in the education of the students throughout COVID, as we are in Canada. January starts the new school year and as we review the results from last year, we are so relieved to know that our students in Help Lesotho’s Child Sponsorship Program have done really well. 85% of the kids passed last year – against unbelievable odds. School closures left them alone and without the social and emotional support that school provides. Many guardians can no longer scrap the funds together to pay school fees. Many students have no guardians but rather stay alone in tiny multi-person boarding rooms. Passing is a herculean feat and we applaud each one. Our analysis of the reasons they did so much better attributes it to a combination of increased psychosocial support from staff, more engagement of their guardians, access to our computers and libraries, and participation in our leadership camps after a two-year COVID hiatus.

There are so many stories. I share but two from last year; one of a beginning and one of an ending.

Khotso, high school student

Young Khotso lives with his mother, older brother and little sister. Without paternal emotional or financial support, his dream of attending high school was shattered. Reflecting on last January, when he was supposed to start his exciting high school journey, he said: “For those three months, I used to close myself indoors and I watch my peers wake up every day, all dressed up in new uniform to go to school. I avoided uncomfortable questions as much as I could”. All he wanted was to go to school and make his mom proud.

Khotso was deeply touched when his primary school principal believed so strongly in him that she paid just enough for him to join his peers at Khethisa High School in the second quarter, and bided time for his mother to plead for – and secure – Help Lesotho sponsorship from a wonderful donor in Canada. He feels truly blessed to go to school like other children. “I don’t need to be so afraid now when other children are expelled for school fees. I made a promise to make my mother and sponsor proud through my performance.” 

Khotso credits much of his success to the lack of worry, the care of the staff and to the Pitseng Centre library when he obtained position one in his class and eighth in his grade, despite missing the first term. Now in his second year of high school, he promises to work even harder. (Imagine his joy at the new library!)

On the other hand, 19 -year-old Refiloe graduated in December from our Child Sponsorship Program. “Without sponsorship, I wouldn’t never have attended, let alone graduated. I stay with my grandfather and grandmother. My father passed away and my mother left for South Africa for job hunting. She comes once in a year and we rarely communicate. We depend on grandfather’s elderly pension but he is sick. I am responsible for the collection of grandfather’s medication during his checkups”

Distance and workload meant that Refiloe moved to a hostel room close to the school, wracked with worry about her grandparents’ well-being and ability to manage on the little money they had to all share. “When I got a sponsor, I started to relax a bit and was able to achieve the outstanding results. I am so thankful to my sponsor as I was never expelled from school because of fees or not having books. The toiletry kit I received boosted my confidence as I was able to fully participate in school activities. My dream to study Law is going to come true because of the sponsorship I got at Help Lesotho.” She loved the life skills provided by Help Lesotho. She is now proud to say that her self-confidence and esteem are high to resist all the negative peer pressures. She is working hard to achieve her goals and choose friends with positive and supportive peers.

If you feel you could sponsor a student (or more than one!), you can change a life forever. It is a remarkable gift.

P.S. The team in Canada asked that I include a save-the-date for two of the Canadian retirement celebrations: Kingston, ON – Thursday April 13, and Ottawa, ON – Saturday April 22. Details to follow next week.


– Read Letter #1 2023 – 
– Read Past Letters from Lesotho – 

Humanitarian Bike Touring in Lesotho

Humanitarian Bike Touring in Lesotho

Jesse Herbert

Hey, Jesse here. March 7th, I’ll be heading to Lesotho for three weeks to celebrate “Dr. Peg Herbert’s” retirement as Director and Founder of Help Lesotho. She’s my mom and I’m a little bit of a momma’s boy, so I’m obviously not going to miss the celebrations and the opportunity to explore the mountains of Lesotho….by bike.

It turns out, one of my favourite activities is to explore foreign countries by bike, also known as “Bike Touring” or “Bike Packing”. So I’ve decided to extend my stay after the festivities and cycle through the mountains. 

There’s a lot to consider in a voyage such as this in such unforgiving, steep and hot high altitude terrain. Where do you get water? Is it safe to drink? Is it difficult to cycle at such high altitudes? How do I get in shape quickly? The list goes on.

Through February and March, I’ll be sharing the journey of preparing for this trip on my instagram channel Oopsmark where I normally share my cycling focused designs and creations. While in Lesotho, I’ll be doing my best to share my exploration of the people, the country and the behind the scenes of Help Lesotho.

I’m heading to Lesotho in Africa for some exciting celebrations, my mom’s retirement (Dr. Peg Herbert) and of course some bike packing in the mountains there. It’s sauna season here in montreal so I’m going to have to get in shape quickly. I love the rush of butterflies once you commit to something. It’s like starting down a hill in a toboggan. All you can do it try and keep up.


Planning for a Bike Packing Trip

Having bike toured in 15 countries, I’ve learned that each environment is different from the next and never what you thought it was going to be. One does their best to research the environment and prepare the right gear while leaving the kitchen sink at home. Gotta stay light  to be climbing up those mountains.
I have no idea what bike touring in Lesotho will be like. So many questions!
green arrow
How hot will it be?
Do i need a sleeping bag up in the mountains or will it be hot at night?
Can i tent along the way?
Will it be same to drink the water?
Can training under heat lamps help my body prepare for the heat and sun?
What sort of food will be available in the villages?
Should i bring pots and pans or plan to eat picnic style?
How will my legs preform at the high altitudes?
Do the Basotho people also speak English, or will I need to learn some Sesotho phrases to communicate?
The list goes on!
items to pack on a bike trip

Cross the Finish Line Campaign

It seemed to only make sense to include a participatory element in this trip planning. As such, we’ve launched a campaign to help kids in their last year of high school “Cross the finish Line”. Many are at risk of not being able to graduate if they cannot pay the grad fee (equal to $200 CAD). Our initial goal was to support 10 kids in graduation, although just over a week in to the campaign we’ve already raised the funds for the first 10! It’s been so exciting to see the donations roll in and all of your encouraging messages of support. Your donations will truly make a lasting impact in the lives of students!

I don’t have a particular route planned or amount of kilometers I’m hoping to bike – this will depend on the weather (Lesotho has experienced a lot of rain lately making mountainous regions prone to mud slides) and Help Lesotho’s agenda for Peg’s retirement celebrations. I will, however, try to get out as often as I can on my bike and look forward to updating you with photos, videos and stories of my time travelling the Mountain Kingdom on two wheels!

20 Years of Help Lesotho

I visited Help Lesotho soon after it started, but it’s been a while since then. I’m looking forward to learning more about what the team has accomplished and what’s planned for the future.

Help Lesotho has become the largest Canadian NGO operating in Lesotho and has impacted the lives of over 265,000 people (65% of which are women and girls) in Lesotho and raised $25 million, all without government funding. The organization is a female-led, with 40 local staff in Lesotho. Services are offered at two Help Lesotho community centres and in villages across six of Lesotho’s ten districts. Over 53,000 people have graduated from Help Lesotho’s intensive, educational programs focused on HIV prevention, women’s rights, leadership, mental health and professional training. 

Smart Kids Interview

Smart Kids Interview

Motopi is a Professional Intern (PI) with Help Lesotho. As part of his role, Motopi oversees the Smart Kids Project, an initiative which equips volunteer youth alumni from Help Lesotho’s programs to provide education and psychosocial support to vulnerable children in their villages. To get a better sense of the impact of the project and the importance of our new 4300 Kids campaign, Motopi answered a few questions below.

What is the Smart Kids project all about? (Motopi) The project was started in 2021 during the covid-19 lock-down restrictions whereby children were going to school on weekly intervals or schedule. For instance, they would go to school only once a week and teachers would give them lots of homework for them to work on while they are at home. It came in place to assist these children with all their school because most of them are staying in child headed families or are living with their grandparents or guardians who are mostly not educated, thus making it tough for them to assist. In other words, this is a literacy project that aims at helping children in their school work and providing social-emotional support.

How important do you think this project is? (Motopi) This project has shown great importance to children both academically and psychologically as the Alumni volunteers do not only assist with home works but also provide basic psychosocial support by listening to children’s different problems and be their support system. It is important to mention that most parents or guardians are not always there to listen to their children’s problem such as peer bullying and thus making it difficult for children to seek comfort. The volunteers have become their support system in times where they give them comfort, space and time to vent about things that bother them, and also to celebrate their successes with them such as celebrating improved marks at school.

What kinds of positive changes have you seen in the kids? (Motopi) This project is not only seeing improved grades in those who are attending schools but it has ignited the spark for those who had dropped out to go back to school. It is attracting a lot of attention from children and parents to an extend in some communities, one volunteers is having over 50 children participating in their sessions because all nearby villages are encouraging their children to attend. For example, there are five volunteers of which each of them is seeing over fifty children in their sessions.

Help Lesotho alumni volunteer outreach volunteers
Help Lesotho alumni volunteer outreach volunteers

Can you speak about how imperative this initiative was while schools were closed because of COVID-19? (Motopi) During covid-19 lock-down restrictions, in the sessions, volunteers included covid-19 prevention measures such as social distancing, sanitizing or washing hands and putting on masks to keep them safe. They even created songs out of these measures just as to make sure that they never forget how to protect themselves, those around them and also where they can get assistance if they suspect that they are infected such as reporting to teachers, guardians and consulting with the doctors. This initiative did not only help to curb the covid-19 infections but also brought cohesion among children and parents in the communities. These children used the after school sessions as educational platforms where they would come together and help each other with school work and also shared their things with the vulnerable ones. For instance, some would identify that one of them does not have a uniform or school shoes and then they would give them their older ones.

How have things changed now that the schools are open? What is the reaction from parents and community members about this project? (Motopi) Support visits were started after the covid-19 restrictions were eased/removed which aimed at visiting volunteers in their sessions to assess the impact of the project on children. It is through these visits that we also conducted parents meetings to hear the take from the parents and guardians, and also assist them to further understand the project. Parents, guardians, community leaders, teachers and health workers showed that the project has being of create help for them because they do not have enough time to help children with school work as some are working nine(9) hours jobs such as factory workers who leave at 6:00am and comeback at 6:00pm already having to prepare for the following day. They also take the sessions as safe home for their children because even on weekends they know that their children are safe there with an adult. This also includes the fact that their children are able to share personal troubles with the volunteers and thus, making it easy for the parents to know them, work on improving their relationships and find mitigation strategies for the problems. For all these reasons, they hope the project will continue for many years to come.

What is the impact of this project on the alumni who volunteer their time? (Motopi) This work made the Alumni volunteers feel valued in their communities because parents recognized their assistance and deemed them as leaders. Most of these volunteers are unemployed, so they found these after school/weekend sessions giving them a purpose of waking up every day and get busy like other people. Some of them realized their potential in teaching career and they have gone to tertiary schools to pursue the teaching careers. Some have seen increased support from community members in their small scale businesses such as selling beauty products or vegetables. These volunteers are also getting psychological support through facilitation of PSS modules and One-on-One sessions from Help Lesotho staff as they are given opportunity to share their personal concerns and struggles through WhatsApp and phone calls.

What do you hope the future of the Smart Kids project looks like? (Motopi) I personally hope the project can be blessed with a good funding so that it can be big enough to cover all 10 districts because it has shown that most children are benefiting a lot from it. It has reduced the literacy gap between children attending private and public schools because it in at this platforms whereby they all learn the same thing and pull each other up. We are having children who are in grade 6 who cannot read or write but through this project we have managed to bridge that gap in the communities it is covering, therefore calling attention from those others that it does not cover and they are hoping that they can also get the similar assistance. As for the Alumni volunteers, there is a long list of them who also want to participate in this project as it does not only give them a purpose in life but also work experience in working with children.

Help Lesotho’s new ‘4,300’ Kids Campaign aims to pairs vulnerable children with trained alumni volunteers that will provide support, educational assistance and positive encouragement. We hope to raise enough money to train 100 new volunteers that will be able to provide support to 4,300 kids in Lesotho. For more information about the campaign and to make a donation, click here.

2022 Letter #7: Letters from Lesotho (142)

2022 Letter #7: Letters from Lesotho (142)


I am so touched by the number and responses of readers to my first letter. Thank you for following along and for caring so much.Peg at Hlotse Centre

Back in Canada, I reflect on my intense but productive trip. I had over 40 meetings, visited programs, hugged each staff, admired our new library and our two centres and ‘felt the Mosotho’ in me again after such a long hiatus. Knowing I will return for February and March 2023 made it all that much easier to leave so soon.

‘M’e Mamoletsane, Kathleen and I met with the World Health Organization, UNICEF, UNAIDS and UNFPA to discuss our CHANGE4ce Program to help build capacity in other organizations to provide better psychosocial support in building resilience and mental health. We are hopeful to move this initiative forward. We know that our training and experience in mental health would help so many organizations deepen the impact of their work.

Correctional Officers Help LesothoI previously mentioned the new group of correctional service and national security officers in our Computer and Life Skills Program. They had heard about our program and made a proposal to their management to be allowed the time to attend the course. The first week, they were mostly speechless about the opportunity before them. Week two, their questions were meaningful with minds and hearts open. Each one will impact hundreds of wounded lives in their careers. Realizing that prisoners are not evil people but broken and struggling was a profound revelation. One said this was “like the family he never had where people get real love and care”.

One of our COVID initiatives was to mobilize our alumni to both keep them occupied with purpose and to provide support to children during the school closures. We developed and they distributed over 5,000 age-appropriate workbooks filled with COVID information, coping strategies, math and literacy activities, motivational pages and games. The alumni volunteers were trained and each supported a troop of children in their village – to listen, learn and comfort. It has been a great success. The guardians of the children have approached the alumni to learn how to better support the children under their care. Although thankfully the schools remained open for the 2022 school year, we continued the project with the volunteers supporting children after school and on weekends. COVID set so many children so far back both educationally and emotionally. The impact over the last year blew our expectations away. As you can see from the table below, a total of 108 volunteers reached 4,635 vulnerable children. On average, each of these children participated in 7 life-changing sessions.

alumni volunteer with kids<br />
kids with school work
volunteer outreach stats

“I have really improve on my self confidence because I can stand in front of many people and speak which was something that I wasn’t able to do before I start my outreach.” – Mafusi, volunteer


“Children are now seeing the light even those who are struggling they are trying.” – Chaka, volunteer

4300 kids logoWe are so proud of these young people that we are asking you for help to support a whole new cohort of volunteers. We are excited to launch a new project in which we will, with your help, recruit 100 new volunteers who will reach at least 4,300 children with tutoring and mental health check-ins. These young ones are desperate to get some help and to learn. This is the focus of our fall fundraising and we hope you will join us to make it happen. Please click here to learn more and stay tuned for additional information in the coming weeks.

Another project we are conducting is in its third year in the south of Lesotho on early and unintended pregnancy. UNFPA begged us to help in an area in which over 50% of the high school girls had fallen pregnant. That is not a typo or over exaggeration – literally more than half of the girls in high school in this region became pregnant. My heart aches for these girls and their dear babies. We are working with the chiefs, local council and community members to hold them responsible for protecting these girls. We are working with potential enablers and perpetrators, including the landlords of the tiny rented rooms rural children must live in to attend high school, taxi drivers (part of the essential transportation sector), bar owners, herd boys and teachers. We are proud to say that there has been significant progress. The taxi drivers are determined to protect their student passengers, educate new drivers, and to work with the schools to ensure students can only access taxi rides if they have a pass to leave school. Similarly, the landlords have stepped up to monitor their premises against perpetrators and ensure only those who should be in the rooms are. The main high school has reported a remarkable decline in pregnancy and has made a commitment to work with other schools to reduce truancy so that the girls are not enticed away from their education by the promises of food, jobs and ‘treats’.

Kathleen visited a school and spent a day each with the young mothers and a couple of grannies.

Going to their village, Kathleen visited a granny who had prospered under our program and who was able to grow enough food to feed her family and understand positive parenting.

Kids in classroom
Granny in village
Kathleen with young mothers

The other was a different story. Our program officer had rescued two children whose mother had abandoned them. Their grandmother agreed to raise them. When Kathleen arrived, the grandmother was totally bedridden. At 84, she was giving the little food she had to the children and literally starving herself to death – so weak that she could not get out of bed. The children now care for her. This visit still haunts Kathleen. Our staff will follow up.

sick granny and child

I had charged our psychosocial professional interns with reading Viktor Frankl’s book “Man’s Search for Meaning” and had a great chat with them on it, followed by a serious and quite wonderful discussion with all the male staff on a module on ‘Supporting Boys and Men’.

Males discussing at Help Lesotho