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.

Supporting Mental Well-Being in Lesotho

Supporting Mental Well-Being in Lesotho

Mental health is a fundamental human right that should be accessible to all individuals. At Help Lesotho, our work lies in nurturing mental well-being and fostering resilience in order to empower beneficiaries to reach their full potential and make healthy decisions for themselves, that also impact those around them.

As we recently observed World Mental Health Day, we compiled a list of 10 ways Help Lesotho supports people to improve their mental health.

Help Lesotho celebrates pride month in Lesotho

1. Fostering inclusiveness and creating safe environments for all.

young mother with program certificate

3. Contributing to dignity, autonomy and self-sufficiency through access to services and local resources.

smiling family, benefitting from Help Lesotho programs

5. Providing counselling sessions to vulnerable individuals and families as they navigate challenges.

fostering friendships through help lesotho programs

7. Fostering friendships amongst supportive peers.

help lesotho employee caring for a program beneficiary

9. Caring for people in ways that make them feel seen and valued.

Help Lesotho program outdoors encourages active living

2. Promoting physical activity and active lifestyles.

children love to play outdoors at the help lesotho leadership centres

4. Supporting inter-generational communication to improve family and community support systems.

breaking down barriers through interactive education

6. Breaking down barriers about depression, suicide, and drug & alcohol and abuse.

Help Lesotho centres are a second home to many, a safe space

8. Creating a home-away-from-home for children to play, learn and grow.

help lesotho helps beneficiaries make healthy decisions

10. Equipping people with knowledge that empowers them to make healthy decisions.

Together, we are building the resilience of a generation that is working hard to create a brighter future! For some more context as to why mental health support is an important part of Help Lesotho programs, click here

High School After the Pearl Program

High School After the Pearl Program

We recently caught up with a couple Pearl Girls who completed the Pearl Program a few years ago. These girls are now nearly finished their high school education. Read on to see how the program has made an impact in their lives and helped them to navigate high school with confidence and success.

16-year-old SEBOPEHO is in grade 11, the final year of high school in Lesotho. She completed the Pearl Program back in 2019. Sebopeho lives with her mother and three brothers. Her mother is not working, but her older brother is an accountant and is able to help support the family. When she was in grade 10, Sebopeho started dreaming of becoming a doctor when she grows up because she loves biology.

Sebopeho, pearl girl

Looking back at when she started high school, Sebopeho does not hesitate to say that peer pressure was the biggest challenge. Everywhere she looked she could see students being negatively influenced by others. Some are no longer attending school because they did not keep their grades up. For Sebopeho, she decided to avoid making close friends in the first couple years of high school. She was friendly with people, but did not want anyone to have too much influence over her. Now she has wonderful friends whom she fully trusts. She knows what good friendships look like and she isn’t willing to accept anything less. The same goes for finding a boyfriend – although Sebopeho hasn’t found someone who is a good match for her yet.

She said, “I see my friends having so many boyfriends, but they hurt them so much. I don’t want that.”

Sebopeho maintained friendships with fellow Pearl Girls from her session. Even though they go to several different schools, they are still able to support one another; “We like to help each other”.

A quiet leader with a bright smile, Sebopeho stands up against peer-pressure and bullying in her school and has become a trusted confidant among other young girls in her school and community. “The Pearl Program helped so much. There are so many challenges, especially for girls. I get to help others now.” She shared an example of a girl being bullied for being at the top of her class. Other students were taking her books and making fun of her for performing well. Sebopeho befriended the girl and supported her to keep her head up. They are now friends who rely on one another to have each others’ backs.

“In my village there are so many children who are not going to school. I see everyday what I would be doing if I didn’t have this opportunity.”

At just 16-years-old, grade 10 student MEISI is already a strong leader amongst her peers. She was orphaned at just eight-years old and has survived thanks to the support of her grandmother. After completing the Pearl Program in 2020, she began her high school education with confidence. “I was a really shy person but being at Help Lesotho really helped me.”

Reflecting on her time as a Pearl Girl and Pearl Mentor, Meisi shared, “Before I was stressed to say anything wrong. But being a Pearl Girl and Mentor helped me learn to talk and share ideas. Now I join everything and have things to say.” She went on to say, “I was always being told I am unique, just like unique pearl stones. I learned self-esteem and human rights. It really helped me be a leader. Next year I will be head girl at my school. Teachers could see my self-esteem so they chose me. I’m open with other people.”

Meisi, past pearl girl

Being promoted as ‘head girl’ at her school is a tremendous accomplishment. The position is nominated by students who select the person they feel best represents the student body. As head girl, Meisi will be a link between teachers and students. She will motivate and encourage students to work hard and dedicate themselves to their studies.

Meisi is putting what she learned from the Pearl Program into action every day. She has overcome so much to get to where she is today, and she knows she still has a long way to go to figure out her future, especially without parents to support and guide her along the way. It is astonishing that she has the capacity to support and motivate other students the way she is. There is no doubt that Meisi has a bright future ahead!

For more information about the Pearl Program, or to shop Pearls4Girls jewelry, click here.

Coffee with Peg and Mamoletsane Oct 14 2021

Coffee with Peg and Mamoletsane Oct 14 2021

Have you watched the latest Coffee with Peg and Mamoletsane? On October 14, Help Lesotho’s Founder and Executive Director, Dr. Peg Herbert, and Mme Mamoletsane Khati, Help Lesotho’s Country Director sat down for a virtual chat to discuss the latest on COVID-19 in Lesotho and the organization’s new project in South Africa. They were joined by two psychosocial support professional interns, Motopi and Lineo. Enjoy!

 

Watch previous Coffee with Peg videos:

GBV Blitz Poetry Winners Round 2

GBV Blitz Poetry Winners Round 2

As part of the Help Lesotho’s 2nd GBV Blitz campaign in 2021, youth in Lesotho were encouraged to submit poems using the theme: What does it mean to ‘Do the Right Thing’ to stop gender-based violence in Lesotho? Read the two winning poems below! Each winner received a smart phone and will have their poems published in the national newspaper.



Nthabiseng Litha

Afrika u hloretseng?

Ke hlorisitso ke hona ho hloka phomolo
Bosiu le motseare tsebe li tletsee molumo
Molumo o otlang pelo
Seboko sa phohomela
Poboli ea mehla
Sello sa basali ba Afrika

Ba Ila basali ba Afrika
‘Mele e tletse metopahali le mabali
Metoahali le mali
Ekaba ba sentse kae basali?

Afrika theola moea mofumahali
Ke o theola joang ho qhalahang mali?
Serata ngoana ke seota ‘m’ae
U le rate joang lesea u khakhatho ‘m’a lona?
Lea etsa’ng masea lea amoha bophelo?
Lea etsa’ng masea lea qhaqha lippeloana?
Kana sello se ha le se utloe na?
Ruri sa tsuonyana ha se hlomole phakoe.

Ho senyehile kae maapara-kobo?
Ho senyehile kae majara-furu-ka-mahetla?

Tsohang banna ba Afrika
Robelana tlhokou le fate litsebe
Le tle le utloe le se utloelle

Thehang ke hona e be lethoethoe
Nkang malebela ke le loma tsebe
Hlobolang bohlorisi le apare bohlokomeli
Nkang lihlomo tsa lona le eme moleng oa ntoa
Le loanele mafumqhali le lese ho a loantsa
Sireletsang masea le nene ho a siteloa

Tsohang banna ba mobu oa selokoe
Haba se bolokoe
Haba se bolokoa ke hona ho sireletsa
mafumahali

Tooana tse mesana, matsoara-thipa-ka-bohaleng
Ha o baballow mobu peo e tle e behe ha lehholo
Baballang basali le bana
Ho tloha molokong ona ho isa ho ee lekholo

Nka be ke re ‘ea khaola ea ea’
Empa ha e khaole Kajeno
E Kobile Hlooho, e laba-labela khotso
Khotso Khaitse ea Moshoashoaila.


Reabetsoe Thulo 

A war that can be won

Brutality has won the war against
our women and children 
Violence runs its course in the
ruins of our homes

When will it end?
Men, when will we stop? 
Have we not shed enough blood? 
Have we not caused enough death?

Moshoeshoe tsoha fatshe lea timela
Moshoeshoe tsoha barali ba Basotho baa fela
Demoralised by the very warriors of our land 
Lord lord? 
Carest thou not that we perish? 

What has this world come to? 
For the men who are to protect us
Are the very first to abuse us
Who can we turn to? 
Who can hear our pleads?
Our mountains are filled with the cries
of our mothers, sisters and daughters 

And if you say “but it’s not me” 
then you are part of the problem 
You see it, you call it out,
Not saying it is as bad as advocating for it

I am tired
I am tired of being part of a virus
that decimates the very species that
gives life to the world we live in 
All they want to do is grab, hit, and smash
I am tired 

This has to stop
We need to stand tall
We are the voice of the voiceless 

Let us come together as one
to fight against the abuse of our women and children 
One heart
One voice
One goal
We can win this war.

International Women’s Day 2021 Speech

International Women’s Day 2021 Speech

International Women’s Day 2021: In honour of International Women’s Day (March 8), Dr. Peg Herbert gave a Zoom presentation to the ‘Women in Real Estate’ group from RE/MAX Hallmark about her experience with gender equity. Her talk focused on the importance of involving boys and men in the fight for gender equity. Peg shared inspiring examples from her work as Founder and Executive Director of ‘Help Lesotho’.