Vlog from Lesotho – 3

Vlog from Lesotho – 3

Join us in this global celebration of joy and positivity this International Day of Happiness!

At Help Lesotho, your support has been instrumental in our mission to spread joy and create brighter futures in Lesotho. It is truly remarkable to witness the transformative power of a simple smile. Thank you for being a beacon of hope and happiness in the lives of those we serve!

Kate has been capturing lots of great videos while in Lesotho. Please enjoy this short compilation of fun clips below that is sure to put a smile on your face!

Vlog from Lesotho – 2

Vlog from Lesotho – 2

This week Kate partook in one of the monthly Grandmother Program sessions in Lichecheng. This week’s session covered the sensitive topic of Grief and Loss – below the video, you can read about how Help Lesotho approaches the topic.

Grief and Loss

Help Lesotho’s Grief and Loss module is one of the most impactful sessions delivered in any of our programs. The extent of grief that many people in Lesotho experience is overwhelming. Culturally, there are rituals to follow when people pass, but there is also an expectation that grief ends quite abruptly. Children are rarely given support to process the emotions that accompany losing a loved one. Grandmothers are expected to bury person after person as though nothing has happened. With so much grief built up, people are often immobilized. Help Lesotho creates the environment needed for grief to be acknowledged and even welcomed. Only then can people begin to heal and move forward with their lives. 

The 50 grandmothers in the village of Lichecheng gathered at the only community building in their rural village. Most often used as a church, the small hall is equipped with old wooden benches and a few plastic chairs for elders who need the extra support. The building’s three windows open to a spectacular view of the surrounding mountains. 

Help Lesotho’s Senior Program Officer, Mampaka Kunene, has worked with grandmothers for nearly ten years. She knows the Grief and Loss module inside and out, but she still referred to her paper copy in order to not miss a step. She knows how essential it is to walk this journey with the grandmothers in a way they can feel understood. 

Mampaka began by asking the group, “how does it feel when we lose someone?” One grandmother replied “we feel that we are losing our minds”, and the group nodded in agreement. 

Mampaka then shifted her tone, going quiet and soft. She encouraged the grandmothers to think of loved ones they have lost. The grandmothers bowed their heads, covered their faces, whispered to themselves, and let tears roll down their cheeks. They stayed like this for quite some time, the only noise coming from the rattle and squeak of the tin roof shifting in the wind.

After some time, Mampaka began to sing a traditional mourning song. Most grannies did not join in (surprising given that group singing is a favourite Basotho experience). Instead, they rocked back and forth on the benches. Mampaka walked while she sang, putting a hand to a shoulder, offering a tissue, and making eye contact as though to say, “I see you, your grief is welcome, you are accepted as you are.”

A little boy, just 3-years-old, noticed his grandmother crying. He leaned into her chest and then rested his head on her lap. He might have been wondering why their normal roles were reversed, but he understood that she needed him at that moment. 

Grandmothers then took turns sharing their losses. Many have a similar experience of losing their husbands to mining accidents in South Africa. Nearly all have buried at least one child. One grandmother quietly told the group that she had buried seven of her ten children. 

In the end, the grandmothers were asked how they felt. The first grandmother to respond said she feels relieved. Another shares that she “feels like a burden off her shoulders”. Another said that this experience was painful, but now she already feels stronger. 

By opening the door to conversations about grief and remembering loved ones, these grandmothers can now continue to support one another as they take steps to heal their broken hearts.

A few additional photos from the day are included below.

grannies sitting on the grass after a program session
Vlog from Lesotho – 1

Vlog from Lesotho – 1

Kate, Help Lesotho’s Executive Director, is currently in Lesotho for the next few weeks and we invite you to follow along with her updates. Her busy and eventful first few days involved catching up with our local staff and partaking in the dynamic activities for children at our Hlotse Centre.

Click the image below to watch!

Below are some other fun updates from Kate’s first week in Lesotho! Image 1 (left, below) some youngsters gather for a reading lesson at the Hlotse Centre. Beside that is a quiet image of the Hlotse Centre at dusk. Below that, a young boy walks to school with the beautiful Maluti Mountains in the distance. The last image is of the launch event Kate mentioned in the video above on the new club to address violence in schools.  

pearl program session
grandmother day with kids playing
In the shadows: Lesotho’s struggle against human trafficking

In the shadows: Lesotho’s struggle against human trafficking

While Lesotho’s landscapes may be breathtaking, the small African Kingdom grapples with a persistent issue that often lurks in the shadows – human trafficking. Lesotho’s geographical position, surrounded entirely by South Africa, presents both opportunities and challenges for the nation. Being landlocked within South Africa makes eliminating human trafficking extremely difficult as there are countless routes for vulnerable people to be smuggled across the border. 

Poverty serves as the breeding ground for human trafficking in Lesotho. With over half the population living below the poverty line and an unemployment rate that hovers around 80%, individuals are desperate for economic opportunities. 

girl getting water in Lesotho

Traffickers often target vulnerable women and children, luring them with promises of employment, education, room and board, food or small gifts like toys and candy. Once trapped, victims find themselves subjected to various forms of abuse, including forced labor and sexual exploitation. When presented with an opportunity, many have little choice but to fall into the trap of false promises of a better life outside of the borders of their country.

In many instances, desperate families send their children to South Africa in hopes they have more economic or educational opportunity, which often lands them in the hands of traffickers. Traffickers typically target rural communities, where employment rates are particularly low and where the gender-imbalance is more pronounced. In rural communities it is also easier for traffickers to slip through the cracks of law enforcement and hide in the mountains. 

In Lesotho, traffickers exploit Basotho children, especially orphans, in forced labor in domestic servitude and animal herding and in sex trafficking.  Young girls employed in domestic work in exchange for room and board are vulnerable to forced labor and abuse.” – from the 2023 Trafficking in Persons report 

Help Lesotho’s programs work to actively inform participants about the dangers of human trafficking and how to protect themselves against potential situations where they could be vulnerable to traffickers. Our edu-tainment group GIRL4ce works to spread the word in rural communities throughout Lesotho, educating communities on how to understand the signs of human trafficking and protect its citizens. 

Help Lesotho leaders in training program

Addressing poverty is crucial to breaking the vicious cycle that enables human trafficking to thrive. Initiatives that focus on education and creating employment opportunities can empower individuals, making them less susceptible to the allure of traffickers. 

On this International Day of Awareness Against Human Trafficking, Help Lesotho remains dedicated to actively promoting the message on safeguarding women and children, and entire communities from this pervasive crime.

If you or someone you know needs help, reach out to Skillshare (+266 22317399) or Beautiful Dream Society (+266 63423361) or contact your local police.

Change-makers who are shaping the future!

Change-makers who are shaping the future!

With over 55,000 graduates of our programs to date, there are so many amazing stories to be told about how Help Lesotho has impacted lives in the years after participants have attended our programs. Below you will read some long-term voices of impact from change-makers re-shaping the future!

Maphake, Herd Boy Program

I am currently working as a security guard at a well-known company in Maputsoe. The Help Lesotho sessions have given me the courage to apply for the job post given that I was a mere herd-boy. I have worked on controlling my temper which has helped me to excel in my work.”

Herd boys (aka shepherds) live isolated lives in the mountains of Lesotho. Through Help Lesotho’s 6-month program, the young men (like Mahake) reconnect to their communities and empowered as leaders for protecting girls and women.

Nkametso, Young Mother Support Program

I remember my first experience in an interview where I responded with reference from the self-esteem session, HIV/AIDS and income generating activity. I got the job and I worked at charity foundation for three years.  I was inspired to go back to school, It was not an easy journey because I my child was a burden to my parents but since I am resilient I was able to start a small income generating business at school to meet my child’s needs. I have finally graduated. My advice to other young mothers is that they should not lose hope, it is just the beginning of their lives not the end. They are yet to achieve many things in their lives only if they work hard at it.” 

Berea Grandmothers are stronger together!

A group of ten grandmothers who formed a support group during their time in Help Lesotho’s Grandmother Program a couple years ago have been operating a group savings program for themselves. In November, they made a bulk purchase of 30 large bags of fertilizer with their savings.

Each grandmother received three bags to nourish their crops and improve their yields. On the day the fertilizer was delivered to their village, the grandmothers dressed in their nicest seshoeshoe dresses to mark the occasion (they knew they would be sending a photo to share with all of you!). They are incredibly proud of themselves!

berea grandmothers and their fertilizer

Mokheseng, Smart Kids Program Facilitator

I have more than two years volunteering in the program which is my greatest pride. My self-esteem is boosted from regularly standing in front of my group of adolescents whom I offer academic support to. I am currently a health counsellor and I enjoy conducting group sessions mostly because the Smart Kids Program equipped me with public speaking skills.

past child sponsorship participant, Tlotlisang

Tlotlisang, Child Sponsorship Program

 “I have just completed my bachelor of pharmacy (Honours) from the National University of Lesotho (NUL) and secured myself a job as a pharmacist, those are my biggest achievements. I have always been a big dreamer and when I got sponsored, I did not take the opportunity lightly and did my best in my academic performance. This is one in a million opportunity, it’s life changing. As a CSP alumni I hope those who come after me understand how blessed they are to be part of this loving family; Help Lesotho. I hope they work harder to secure themselves a bright future. I still want to further my studies in medicine.” 

Mantlobo, Safer Communities Project

As a teacher in my community, I took a stand against child abuse where I have been disseminating information about Gender-Based Violence. The trainings have enhanced my ability to boldly advocate for children’s right and help me address harmful practices that deprive children from reaching their utmost potential. More parents are starting to understand the importance of their children staying in school. Thus far, I have been able to refer 39 students to the Ministry of Social Development and St. Charles High school where they will be starting their grade 8. In 2024, I hope to form a support group that will be further address GBV related issues.

Masefora, Safer Communities Project

After attending the safer communities training, community members entrust me with addressing conflicts in household setting and assisting with effective referrals. This has improved the livelihoods of women and children due to increased rates of GBV cases being reported and offering support to the victims. My work here is still not done, we have a long way to go but I’m grateful to Help Lesotho for empowering me and equipping me with relevant set of skills.