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.

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.

Mats’epo’s Story

Mats’epo’s Story

Through Help Lesotho’s Young Mother Program, participants receive ‘Starter Packs’ to help them with the initial investment needed to launch small businesses. As much as these young mothers try to find jobs elsewhere, the high degree of unemployment in the country makes for an incredibly competitive job market. Additionally, most young mothers need significant flexibility in their work in order to care for their children. The young mothers find that being self-employed is the ideal scenario for them, even though it is not an easy road to success.

Along with the start-up funding for their small businesses, the young mothers are trained on budgeting, inventory management, marketing, and customer relations. While not all young mothers are able to sustain their businesses, this model remains an effective way to give young mothers the option to build a business, or to use their initial profits to meet urgent needs within their families.

One young mother, Mats’epo, used her Starter Pack to buy simbas (peanuts), biscuits, eggs, sweets and match sticks. She selected her starter pack products based on what is in demand in her local community. Many people in her community had to walk a long distance to get the products she is selling, so she knew the demand would be there as people would find it more convenient to buy from her. She made use of her profits to open a salon which is right next to her shop where she sells her starter pack products. Mats’epo says her success is attributed to her business strategy. She invests her profits back into the business to make sure that it keeps growing, and keeps thorough records of all her transactions. In the future, she hopes to learn more about bookkeeping and how she can better manage multiple business operations. She is currently looking into making jewelry with beads and believes that it is going to be a success!

Young mother in Lesotho working as a hairdresser

“The starter pack enabled me to meet different needs such as food as well as my family’s needs. I found the starter pack helpful because it enabled me to buy shoes for my child. At some point, I was struggling to buy shoes for her and other basic things.

The Young Mother Program as a whole has made me more aware of the areas I was failing in my relationship with my husband. We used to have some conflict but now I know how to handle that. Another important thing was getting tested for HIV. At first I was afraid to know my status but now I don’t have a problem going for testing. I also learned about contraception and now I know how to use contraception properly.

My business skills have also improved. As you can see, I started off with the starter pack but now I also have a salon which is doing well. It’s almost Christmas and there are many people who are going to be coming to get their hair done. I am also going to buy some beads next week so that I can start making jewelry that I will be selling to women who are going to come in the salon. The business is going to grow and do well and I thank Help Lesotho for everything.”

Mats'epo

Nkhonos of Qoqolosing

Nkhonos of Qoqolosing

Grandmothers (‘nkhonos’ in Sesotho) hold a special place in Lesotho families. Our Grandmother Support Program empowers 200 rural grandmothers each year with education, access to local resources, and psychosocial support to help them overcome grief and care for their orphaned grandchildren. Read on to meet three nkhonos from Qoqolosing.

Nkhono Maneo

Nkhono Maneo has the energy of a 20-year-old woman. She said she will die with a spade in her hands to provide for her grandchildren. She built her two houses with her bare hands although her knees are quick to remind her that she is old. Nkhono said, “I am grateful to Help Lesotho for putting food on my table when I could not provide for my grandchildren because of an illness that had put me on bed rest. I put the lantern light on in the evening for my grandchildren to play outside while I finish cooking. I then take it back into our house to share a meal with my family and talk about the day’s events. I have no words to express when it comes to the life skills sessions I attended. I learnt to forgive and make amends with people whom I had conflicts with although, for some, it is a work in progress. I have been able to manage my anger at the state of my life and build a stronger relationship with my grandchildren.”

Nkhono Mants’ihlele

Like a thief in the night, death left her shattered from burying eight of her children and husband one by one. She is left with one daughter whom she prays for every day. With tears cascading, Nkhono Mants’ihlele said, “The life skills sessions have given me new hope and helped me to grieve although it will take me time. I had never seen how important I am until the self-esteem session made me appreciate life and my family. My family of 7 members entirely depends on my small pension but because of learning about good relationships, my neighbours and I always share the little we have with one another to get to the next day. I loved the Grandmother Program. I have a blanket to keep warm and a lantern light to brighten my night without the fear of running out of paraffin or not having money to buy a candle. I don’t remember the last time we had a decent meal but Help Lesotho really answered my silent prayer. I feel rich at heart and have found healing.”

Nkhono Malerato

“I recently lost my husband and could not bear the thought of being called a widow. I have to wear mourning clothing every day for a few months. I miss him every day especially when I come back from the trainings because I used to share with him everything I learnt and he really appreciated Help Lesotho. When I came home with the food relief and the lanterns I remember him jokingly saying that he can see that I have not been leaving his sight for nothing.”

Nkhono Malerato lives in a household of eight who all depend on her pension money. She has learnt to appreciate new ways to communicate with her grandchildren instead of shouting at them. She now approaches them differently and has seen remarkable improvement in their relationship as a family. “Thank you Help Lesotho for helping me heal.”

Computer and Life Skills Impact Stories

Computer and Life Skills Impact Stories

 

 

MOLEMO

“I found out Help Lesotho offers Computer and Life Skills from a family member who graduated from it in 2016. He told me I would enjoy it very much just as he did but I think I even enjoyed it more.”

Molemo started working as a radio presenter soon after graduating from high school. He knew he needed to learn how to use a computer if he was going to be successful in his role.

Molemo enrolled in the program for the computer skills, but by the end of the session he realized that the life skills sessions had a huge impact on him, particularly the sessions on Effective Communication, Personality Inventory and Self-Esteem. He feels that he learned a lot from hearing his fellow participants share about their personal experiences.

“As a radio presenter I am going to do my job so well with the skills I acquired from the program as I interact with listeners and use a computer at the same time. I have been well equipped with skills of effective communication and factual knowledge about cancer and gender-related issues, which inspired me to select them as topics to explore in my shows and raise more awareness about them to people.

I want to applaud the warm welcome I got every day from Help Lesotho personnel from the security guards at the entrance all the way to the people facilitating. Even on the days I was in a bad mood, coming to Help Lesotho helped me cheer up.”

 

 

THAPELO

Thapelo knows that he has not always made the best decisions in his life. Until recently, he used to deal with the stress of conflicts in his family by using drugs and alcohol and engaging in risky behaviour. He joined the Computer and Life Skills Program and has completely turned his life around!

“Since I have joined this program, I have been able to make better informed decisions and my self confidence has improved. I can firmly stand for my actions and think sensibly about my decisions. Learning about goal setting opened my mindset to be a visionary, to set good goals and to put the work into achieving them. I have grown up, and I am grateful for this opportunity.”

 

 

RELEBOHILE

Relebohile had a good childhood until grade 11 when her father lost his job in the mines. From that point, her family struggled. She was so distracted she perform poorly on her final grade 12 exams. Her family could not afford for her to repeat the grade, so instead she left for South Africa in search of work.

In January 2020 she returned to Lesotho to celebrate Christmas with her family. She started seeing a local boy and found herself pregnant. They returned to South Africa together, but after the birth of her son the relationship deteriorated. Relebohile was depressed and overwhelmed about how her life became so difficult in only two years.

In early 2021, Relebohile bravely left her boyfriend behind in South Africa and returned to Lesotho with her son. A friend told her about Help Lesotho’s Computer and Life Skills Program and for the first time in a long time Relebohile felt a glimmer of hope for her future.

Relebohile’s favourite sessions were about communication, goal setting and role modeling.

“I learnt that having a child at a young age was not the end of my life. I can see that my life has changed, I learned to forgive, even my child’s father. I am on a healing journey now. I am ready to build a life that will be beneficial for me and my son by making better informed decisions.”

 

 

PAPALI

Papali first heard about Help Lesotho from her employer who is a former Help Lesotho employee.

“She encouraged me to come and register for computer and life skills and I have never been so grateful to her because I not only gained knowledge on computer skills but I also got my healing in the life skills sessions.”

She shared that the life skills sessions renewed her as she learned how and why it is important to express her feelings in a healthy way. The goal setting session reminded her of the goals she used to have, including studying nursing. Papali is now taking small steps towards applying for nursing school!

“The sessions made me to be a better person, but I am still yet to work on myself.”

Tsita’s Story

Tsita’s Story

When Tsita finished primary school, his family could not afford the high school fees, so he became a herd boy, looking after cattle and sheep up in the high mountains.

From the age of 12 and for 14 years, he lived an isolated life, wandering the mountain sides, without education, support or socialization. When his village chief invited him to Help Lesotho’s Herd Boy Program, he jumped at the chance. This was the first opportunity he had ever had to better himself. During the six-month program, he never missed a Saturday class, soaking up every word and idea, despite being by far the oldest in the group.

When he completed the program, Tsita gave a speech to his community:

My name is Tsita. I live in a little village in rural Lesotho. I was in Help Lesotho’s herd boy training. As herd boys we spend almost our entire lives looking after animals with no information about issues concerning us. The training has changed our lives—most especially mine.

Most of us were never told about issues surrounding HIV/AIDS, but the program helped us dispel all false information about it. We tested for HIV and screened for STIs for the first time ever. We learned about the importance of good health and hygiene. We believe that this is going to strengthen our relationship with other people out there who have been considering us as animals.

I used to be a perpetuator of violence against women. It seemed normal to us boys to beat and violate women’s rights because no one took any action against it. The issue of gender equity to me and my fellow colleagues was understood as a way of depriving us of our privileges and punishing us.

The training changed my whole thinking. Now we understand that women are human beings like us with the same rights and worth—just like us. Therefore, we as men should stop abusing women and girls. Ladies and gentlemen, gender equity doesn’t imply that men should be inferior but that both men and women should have equal opportunities and power in making decisions about their lives because they both have the same capability.

To all young men in Lesotho, please let’s join hands and empower our beloved women and girls. How are we expecting them to live when we mistreat them? They are our mothers, sisters and wives. Let us respect and honour them for the greatness they bring to our lives.

Now in my village, we have a committee of herd boys who are fighting hard to report cases of abuse. I am making a plea to every man in Lesotho to make it their assignment in their communities. We young men should work together to end violence against girls and women in any form.”

Three years after completing the program, Tsita continues to share what he learned and advocate against gender-based violence. During a conversation with Help Lesotho, he said the program changed him forever. He had been a harsh man, thoughtlessly abusing women sexually. He said that once he started the program he stopped completely and never did it again. To this day, whenever he sees a woman or girl being abused he either tries to stop it or he reports it.

He said that he learned how important it was to know his HIV status, to get tested regularly and to get treatment if required.

Tsita said that he tells people around his village that women must be respected and should never be abused because they have rights. He reported that because of the program, he became confident and can now express himself. Before that he had been so shy that he never spoke to others and could not express what was inside.

He said if it had not been for this program, he probably would have been in prison but now he will never go there because he knows how to do better.

He said that the donors who gave him this program must be very happy because his life will be better. He is a different man and he will make them proud.