BEREA- Through their corporate social responsibility initiative, the Avani Group of companies donated food parcels, blankets and sheets to St Cecilia orphanage on Thursday last week. Avani Group in the country comprises Avani Lesotho and Avani Maseru hotels.
On top of the donations, Avani Lesotho will also supply the orphanage with a soup kitchen once a month where they will provide the children with cooked meal until the end of the year. Among the donated items were blankets, maize meal, samp, cooking oil, powdered soap and toilet paper.
Human Resources Manager at Avani Lesotho Lesekelo Makara said they are very excited to continue giving back to the community as hotels.
“It’s up to the private sector and the government to work together and help orphans. Our principal aim is to see these children find new families that can take care of them which in turn will see the number of orphans at orphanages decreasing,” he said.
He also urged the children to go to school as education creates a bright future. “You must also protect and look out for each other,” he said.
Avani Lesotho General Manager Willem Van Heerden said the contribution they made to St Cecilia will go a long way and reduce the burden the orphanage might be experiencing currently. He also hailed the founder and owner of the orphanage, Pule Mahlaku, for the wonderful job he continues doing in looking after the children.
“Not many people can do what you are doing, it’s indeed a phenomenal initiative,” he said.
In an interview with Mahlaku, he said he started the orphanage in 2009 with 15 children who kept on increasing as now he looks after 68 with 10 of them at high school level.
“The reason I started this orphanage was that parents around this area were dying in huge numbers because of the HIV/ AIDS virus. People were still not able to look after themselves and children were left behind as head of families,” he said.
Ages of the children being looked after range from one to 18 years. “However, I do live with them until they finish school even if they are above 18,” he said.
He said they face various concerns as an orphanage that include lack of food resources because of the high food costs as well as during winter it gets very cold.
“The blankets that Avani has given us will come very handy during the winter season and also the food will play a very vital role in these children’s lives. Mahlaku also added that he has four Slovakian nationals helping him look after the children financially.
“I met them through the former Ambassador of Lesotho in Italy and I ended up going to Slovakia to talk to them about my work as caretaker of the children and now they are here with us. They rotate every six months, new ones come while the others go back home,” he said.
Mahlaku said he was also looking for people who might supply the orphanage with big pots that can be used to cook food using firewood.