A home away from home
By Thandiwe Kubere
MASERU – Basotho living internationally have shared how being part of the Diaspora Association has given them a sense of belonging and a feel of home away from home, while in pursuit of better life and providing for their families.
Living in a foreign country can come with challenges and major changes in one’s life, including those of different living conditions and place of residence, work readjustment, changes in finances, social activities, language barriers, and homesickness to name a few. Therefore, when all this issues claim their space/ come to play, one may need a place of comfort or something to lean back on-with the similar warmth (sense) of home.
Lesotho can be depicted amongst other nations for its large valleys, pristine rivers and beautiful mountains. Regardless of those, it is classified among the underdeveloped countries, because of that, its citizens leave home in search for greener pastures. Due to challenges of living away from home and equally wanting to play a part as well as to contribute in the development of their country no matter the distance, Basotho living internationally came to form an organization that would support Basotho wherever they are around the world. This was named Basotho Diaspora Association (BDA). The association was officially registered on May 14th, 2021 in South Africa.
The Diaspora Association, according to its members, undoubtedly brought a lot of positive impacts. Diaspora coordinator, Halieo Lelosa said the association and its approaching homecoming event is a great milestone in the history of Lesotho, detailing how the Lesotho government is willing to engage with them as the Diaspora. “You my compatriots on various parts of the world, have made history- we have made history to show that we are able to unite. Now our role is to use all the available resources at our disposal to plough back to Lesotho, our mother land. As we embark on this new chapter in our journey, I look forward to many Basotho Diaspora coming on board so that all of us may plough back into our beautiful country.
On that note, it was declared that the Basotho Diaspora can be found in five out of the seven continents, about 41 countries around the world.
Basotho Diaspora Association Leader in Canada, Ntsietso Mokitimi, said he is very excited for the association which serves as a strong support system to Basotho globally. He added that the association was formed to contribute in the development of Lesotho and its economic state.
“I am excited about the formalization of the independent Basotho Association. BDA is significant to me because of this reason, for half my life, Basotho as a Diaspora have been my strong support system, but the BDA means something bigger. It is more than a group of friends or acquaintances. It is a strong statement by Basotho living in different parts of the world from different backgrounds and professions, whose hearts beat for Lesotho”, said a BDA member currently staying in the United States of America.
Diaspora communities in many cases relate more easily to the culture and practices of the homeland populations and thus can develop long-lasting and effective collaborations. Major development agencies, bilateral aid organizations, and various NGOs have undertaken numerous studies and initiatives, seeking to better harness Diaspora development which is a potential for economic growth.
“I am so happy to be a part of BDA and I look forward to what the youth can do to contribute towards the uplifting of Basotho and Lesotho. The intention of this association is to partner with local businesses, companies, NGOs and the government, in order to help develop our country and invest in it. Therefore, let us join hands with the diaspora and the government of Lesotho, to improve the lives of our people”, said Manthatisi Machepa, member of BDA in Ethiopia.
BDA international leader Maraisane Nts’ekhe said the association is a good platform where Basotho living internationally, meet and figure out ways of making Lesotho a better place economically. “We know that potential resources to help Lesotho are there within the Diaspora. A question one can ask is ‘how do you unlock such potential?’ Well, this association has a good relationship with the government and other organizations, which can enable members to easily contribute back home. I would like to see more, in fact all Basotho Diaspora joining this association”, he said.
Diaspora Associations over the world contribute in many ways, this includes remittances (money transfers between individuals), charitable donations, partnerships, skill transfers, policy advising, and other forms of assistance. According to different studies, remittance flows of general aid to low and middle-income countries reached a record-high of $529 billion in 2018, and are projected to become the leading source of external development aid globally in a few years.
Over the past several years, the contributions of Diaspora communities to the sustainable development in their origin countries have been acknowledged by global initiatives, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Migrants, and the Summits of the Global Forum on Migration and Development.
The associations have been recognized through their participations and contributions in cases of emergencies or pandemics including that of Covid-19. The Ethiopian Diaspora Association was said to have donated over 52 million towards the Covid-19 pandemic.
With over 30 million Africans living outside of their home countries according to statistics, the continent’s Diaspora has the potential to be a major source of development financing. The financial power of the Diaspora shows in the high remittance figures that Africa receives annually from its foreign-based communities. In 2010, estimates reached a record US$ 40 billion, or 2.6% of the continent’s GDP, not counting informal money transfers.
Further, studies and reports revealed that the Diaspora save an estimated US$ 53 billion annually. These statistics, coupled with the fact that around one-third of the Diaspora population are in the middle class, make it a formidable force for potential development partnerships
Over the years the Diaspora Association has and continues to be trusted to drive economic growth, foster social relations between countries of origin and those the Diaspora have moved to, as well as to ensure the well-being of citizens.