Block by block, book by book…we built it!
PITSENG CENTRE BACKGROUND
Situated between a number of small villages in the Leribe District of Lesotho lies Help Lesotho’s smaller Leadership Centre—the Pitseng Centre. Surrounded by the beautiful Maluti mountains, the property receives over 3,000 visitors a year! From pre-school children to elders, people come from the surrounding area to access educational programs, gather for meetings, learn new skills, play and visit the library. To read about all the activities that go on at the centre, see this blog post.
THE OLD LIBRARY (2008-2023)
An important resource for the community, the library was first housed within the Pitseng Centre and was a well-used resource for many including the nearby elementary and high school children. Over time, it became apparent that the library was too small and lacked resources. Two wooden tables in the room could only fit about 12 students. When the tables were full it was impossible to pass on either side to access books or leave the room. Studying was frequently disrupted with a space that size.
Dozens of high school students rely on the library to access textbooks and have a quiet space to study. For primary students from the two nearby schools, the library is often their first introduction to holding a book in their own hands. Most families in the area live in huts without electricity or enough window light to read or study at home. Watch a short video below for more context on why a new library was needed!
THE PITSENG LIBRARY PROJECT
The plans for a new space: In 2022 Help Lesotho launched the Pitseng Library Project campaign with a goal of raising $55,000 to build and furnish a brand new library on a vacant spot at the Centre. The campaign was met with great support from Help Lesotho donors across the world, surpassing our goal! Additional funds are being used towards maintenance of the building in future years. We’re so grateful so many were eager and willing to support literacy in Lesotho!
The new library is crucial to helping students stay on track with their studies and form life-changing connections to literacy and learning.
The Pitseng Library is so loved and so busy, especially now when school is on. We have a variety of people who come to read and tutor students. Above all, tertiary students have enough space which is quiet for them to do their work. The community is so excited and we want to thank you to all who contributed, for your generosity.
THE BUILDING PROCESS
Working closely with an architect in Canada and local trades professionals in Lesotho, plans were drawn up to create an 850 sq. ft. space, large enough for 50-60 students and community members to study, read and browse books together in one space.
Incredibly, the construction project progressed over a four month period – on schedule and on budget!
With a strong focus on sustainability, the design incorporated building materials and plans aimed at maintaining comfortable temperatures throughout the year. The inclusion of a water tank at the rear for rainwater harvesting, coupled with strategically placed high rectangular windows along both sides, ensures efficient ventilation and heat release during hot summers. Additionally, this design choice optimizes the floor space while providing ample wall area for bookshelves, all the while allowing an abundant natural light.
THE GRAND OPENING
The library opening ceremony in March 2023 coincided with a community-wide celebration to honour Help Lesotho’s Founder, Dr. Peg Herbert, on the occasion of her retirement. Over 500 people came to the event to celebrate the beautiful new library. Grandmothers performed traditional dances, a choir sang Basotho music, and many Help Lesotho alumni gave touching speeches. It was clear that the new library will be a treasured place for many years to come!
TESTIMONIALS FROM THE COMMUNITY
A hive of activity, the library sees many visitors of all ages every single day. The shelves are stacked with novels and textbooks, and colourful posters adorn the walls. People of all ages are exploring books and learning that reading is fun! Laughter and happy chatter can be heard throughout the day – they are so grateful to have this special space! Read some of the testimonials from those who visit the library, below.
Limakatso is in grade 9 at the neighbouring Pitseng High School. Two years ago she was a participant in the Pearl Program, and since then she continues to frequent the Pitseng Centre to read, study and use the computer lab. She loves school and works hard at it. Her goal is to one day become an accountant and help others in her community with the skills she’s learnt. “I love coming to the new library, there is lots of space to study and read my books.”
“I live with my grandmother who takes care of me. I like to spend time in the library using dictionaries to look up new words because I am in the Spelling Champion Club. I always come to the centre on Saturdays and I start by doing my assignments in the library and using the books as I do not have any at home. When I grow up I want to be an accountant so I work hard in all of my subjects. Even during holidays I come to the library to read books and newspapers because I want to improve my English.”
When schools are on break I did not want to come home because I was worried of where I can have enough space to do my reading and assignments…now I enjoy being at the Pitseng Centre for my school work.