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.

A recap on the 2023 Young Mother Program

A recap on the 2023 Young Mother Program

Below is a recap and compilation of stories from Help Lesotho’s 2023 Young Mother Support Program. Read on to learn about the impact this program is having in the lives of so many young women and their families.

In many ways, Help Lesotho’s Young Mother Program has the most visible evidence of change of all Help Lesotho programs. Throughout the program, the girls and young women’s bodies undergo significant changes related to pregnancy, breastfeeding, and the post-natal months and years. The way the participants care for their changing bodies is even more remarkable. They carry themselves with more confidence, they no longer feel shame over their bodies, and they see value in caring for their bodies with respect and acceptance. They no longer feel relegated to the sidelines while their children and partners take what ‘they need’ from their bodies.

In the early days of the program, it very rare to see any young mothers smiling. They are cautious, guarded, wounded and grieving. Over time, there is a palpable relaxation in the training room as the young mothers allow themselves to share. Help Lesotho’s Young Mother Program is a comprehensive approach to capacitate adolescent girls and young women with strategies and support to cope with the repercussions of being young mothers. This involves emotional turmoil, dropping out of school, expulsion from family units, lack of support from the father of the child (and their families), stigma and rejection from community members, poverty, stress and livelihood insecurity. The program fosters capacity in the participants to build their personal resilience, learn to make healthy decisions, and support one another through their challenges.

Top 10 Key Impacts

  1.  Improved self-esteem
  2. Increased respect – for oneself and for others
  3. Confidence with expressing feelings and emotions
  4. Improved communication skills
  5. Improved relationships with spouses and family members
  6. Establishment of support groups with other young mothers
  7. Income-generation from the Starter Packs
  8. Better understanding of early childhood development
  9. Improved anger management skills
  10. Increased access to sexual and reproductive health services
young mothers with their small children.

Stories of Hope

Boitumelo with her daughter.

Boitumelo

Boitumelo found herself pregnant at only 16-years-old. Her boyfriend refused to accept his role and left her to face the responsibilities of motherhood alone. Boitumelo is relieved that her family allowed her to stay with them.

Boitumelo joined the Young Mother Program when she was six months pregnant. She had never visited the clinic since becoming pregnant, but was supported to attend prenatal visits thanks to Help Lesotho facilitators. Thankfully she and her baby were healthy then, and continue to be in the postnatal period as well

A vocational school attended one of the program’s monthly training sessions to share various opportunities they had available for young mothers to access education. They decided to enroll Boitumelo in their program at no cost because she was the youngest participant in the program. Over several months she attended classes to learn catering, knitting and sewing. These skills will help her generate an income for her and her baby. Boitumelo shared, “I am grateful every day that Help Lesotho found me. I know I am on the right path now.”

Makutloano

At only 24 years old, Makutloano has endured tremendous loss. She married her husband when she was 18-years-old after finding out she was pregnant. They went on to have three more children. In April 2022, her husband passed away; a loss she thought was unbearable until she had to bury one of her children in January of this year.

Makutloano said, “Had I not been in this program, I would have lost my mind. The pain I have endured is unmeasurable. I felt much supported in this program by the facilitators and other young mothers. The partners and parents training transformed my relationship with my mother-in-law who is very supportive in helping raise my three children.”

She went on to describe that the resources, such as vegetable seeds and the income-generating starter pack she received through the Young Mother Program, have empowered her to regain her independence; “More burden is off my shoulders because I am able to be resourceful; plant crops in the field for selling and consumption. I confidently attest that the Help Lesotho is a safe place to learn, grow and heal”.

Maphethahatso, young mother program participant

Maphethahatso

Maphethahatso is a 24-year-old mother from Berea district. She and her husband are parents to a five-year-old son and are expecting a second baby. Before the training, Maphethahatso used to be shy and feared interacting with other people. The session on self-esteem helped her to re-gain her confidence and as a result she managed to fully participate in the training with her peers. She says she also managed to express her feelings in her family using the communication skills she learned. She feels that her family now has more respect for her because she has good ideas and opinions to share.

Rahaba

Rahaba says that the Young Mother Program arrived just when she needed it most during a difficult period in her life. Her marriage was crumbling due to unresolved conflicts with her husband, and as it ultimately came to an end, the resilience module sparked a transformation within her, inspiring her to pick up the pieces and find a way forward. She said, “the program helped me emotionally because my marriage situation was stressful and I had no one to share with. Also I have been able to have self-actualisation, putting myself and my child before everything else”.

Rahaba, young mother program participant

Makatleho

Makatleho describes herself as rude, harsh and lacking patience before the program, and now describes herself as confident, humble, and respectful. Previously, her relationship with her husband was very strained and they were always fighting. They are now able to politely speak to one another and value what the other has to say.

She went on to say that the program instilled the importance seeking sexual and reproductive health services and taking her daughter for check-ups consistently. She proudly said, “my child has become a radiant child who eats nutritious food. I am now playing and reading books with her regularly to improve her cognitive development and I see so much improvement even at her young age.”

Program Statistics

stats on the young mother program 2023

Investing in the next generation:

Although Help Lesotho’s program is focused on young mothers in their own right, undoubtedly the children of these young women stand to benefit both in the immediate and the long-term. These babies will grow up with mothers who stand up for their rights, who are role models of healthy relationships, who value education, who prioritize healthy decisions, and who see parenting as more of a privilege than a burden.

Although Help Lesotho’s program is focused on young mothers in their own right, undoubtedly the children of these young women stand to benefit both in the immediate and the long-term. These babies will grow up with mothers who stand up for their rights, who are role models of healthy relationships, who value education, who prioritize healthy decisions, and who see parenting as more of a privilege than a burden.

Help Lesotho November Updates

Help Lesotho November Updates

Watch a short introductory message from Acting Executive Director, Kate Lambert. You’ll learn about some exciting things happening this season at Help Lesotho and why your support matters! Click the button below to watch the video.

So exciting to see one of Help Lesotho’s alumni recognized in Lesotho’s newspaper, The Public Eye! Full article here.

You can now purchase Help Lesotho’s 2024 calendar! Enjoy stunning photography that will transport you. Purchase yours here.

Take an unforgetable trip to the ‘Mountain Kingdom’ with Help Lesotho in March of 2024! More info available here.

Check out this article titled ‘Help Lesotho innovates to counter unemployment’ in the Lesotho paper, The Public Eye.

Support Help Lesotho and other charities with this year’s 24 Good Deeds Advent Calendar!

We are so excited to be featured in this year’s 24 Good Deeds advent calendar. Behind every door, you’ll find a project from a Canadian Charity, including Help Lesotho! With as little as $24, you can support 24 projects locally and globally with a focus on healthcare, education, nutrition, nature and the environment. For more information, click here.