By Thandiwe Kubere
MASERU – Every place has its heroes, those who stand strong to lift others during times of difficulties and vulnerability. And regardless of what might seem like barriers, with love, a leap of faith and stretching one’s hand a little further, serves a beam of light and a beacon of hope to the lives of others. Similar zeal, courage and commitment was witnessed through Ms Mamello Mokholokoe and her fellow care givers towards vulnerable and underprivileged children at Phelisanong.
Children are an important part of the community and they should be protected at all times to ensure they succeed in life (Daniel, 2013). A common challenge underprivileged children face is not getting enough food to eat. According to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), around 155 million children under five suffer from stunted growth due to malnutrition. This leads to problems such as cognitive impairment and weakened immune systems. Moreover, many low-income families cannot afford to buy enough food or live in areas with no access to clean water or sanitation facilities, leading to harmful diseases.
There are millions of children worldwide who live in poverty and lack necessities like food, clothing, shelter, and education. Many of these children also suffer from poor health due to a lack of access to proper healthcare.
Located in the heart of Leribe, in Pitseng Ha Makhata, is Phelisanong- a home for disabled, vulnerable and HIV/AIDS positive children. With seemingly well taken care children, the home portrays its heroes, who willingly left their homes to serve and give care to those who need it the most, to lift them when the shackles of poverty and moments of calamity hit. And, as descriptive as the name, Phelisanong home is a three layered centre which; provides care to orphaned and abandoned children, children with disabilities and autism, as well as a school, where even local children attend.
As a way of giving back to the community, ensuring that children at Phelisanong have one less thing to worry about, Revenue Services Lesotho (RSL), handed over grocery packages and other essential needs to the home. This act came handy especially now when malnutrition in children evidently continues to dominate.
RSL Manager Northern Region Mamosoati Polisi, highlighted it is wise that when one celebrates a milestone, they remember to share their harvest with others and give back to the community. She, on behalf of the company, showed appreciation and commended that a Mosotho native, Ms Mamello, thought of establishing a home that would warmly open for children in need. She applauded her for the impactful work that she does in bringing vulnerable children together with love, giving them care, and catering to their daily needs- those including physical, psychological and emotional. She commended her for having responded to God’s call because not a lot of people would have had the courage to do what she does. “May the Lord add to her strength so that she can continue with the wonderful work she is doing. We also hope for great things and good careers to come out of these children so that they as well become reputable members of the society.
Representing RSL Commissioner General, Mr. Mosuoe Mapetla, enlightened that one of the reasons the company contributed to the home was to celebrate its 20 years anniversary of being service providers to Basotho. He declared, “It is a great honour and accomplishment to the company for having made it this far, but we deemed it more essential to take a look back at the community we serve and we felt a responsibility to become more mindful of their needs and find ways of helping respond to them so that they also get to reap and enjoy some of the harvest.”
He explained the act was achieved by taking some of the collections the company made as service providers in Lesotho over the past two decades. Adding to what Mrs. Mamosoati said, he showed it was necessary that children have their needs met and have access to good education, so that they grow to be successful and respected people who care for their communities. He noted giving to Phelisanong home aligns with the country’s sustainable development goal which advocates for inclusivity and declares no one should be left behind.
Ms. Mamello, on behalf of Phelisanong expressed gratitude to RSL, “We are very humbled to have been made part of the celebration and are given such crucial gifts. We know there are many childcare centres around the country, but we were privileged enough to have been chosen. The children have since waited with anticipation to have you come here”. She further emphasized that the groceries will prove useful and will greatly benefit the home, especially now when food prices are on the rise, which was a major challenge to the home.
The centre has a number of 60 orphaned children, of which some of them are in college and still come home for holidays. There are also 209 disabled children and 400 children who attend the school.
On behalf of the Ministry of Social Development in the Leribe District, Ms Moleboheng Lehema showed appreciation to RSL for having thought of Phelisanong home and children’s needs while celebrating. “It gives me joy to witness such acts of kindness come from different companies. This portrays love and I believe it will give children a sense that they matter. We also hope you celebrate each year like these- tending to the needs of the society. We thank you RSL”, she said.
Ms Mamello enlightened another major challenge the centre encounters is transport constraints when children with disabilities frequently have to see specialists. “We have children who are brought to stay here from different districts around Lesotho, by parents, different NGOs and the Ministry of Social Development, due to their special needs. We have a number of care givers, because unlike the usual setting of school borders which have just a few matrons, the children here need to be looked after by a number of people because some of them are severely disabled.
Another challenge the home comes across is that there are not enough wheelchairs for the children. There is only one wheelchair brought per year. “This becomes especially painful when we have to carry those 21 disabled children on our backs to class, only for them to lie down while getting taught with other students. We also seek to be assisted with walkers because children get physiotherapy and some are in a position to start learning how to walk, but lack hinders that. We would also be grateful for scholarships because we have very brilliant children here who deserve to attend good schools”, she said.
Nonetheless, it is important to bear in mind that children are the heart of the world and should be cared for. We all have something valuable to give, from resources, to good teachings, hope, joy or a heart filled with love. There is no such thing as a little gift.