Tears wiped away

Tears wiped away

Rose Moremoholo

BELA-BELA

 

When she arrived in Ha-Letsoela village in Bela-Bela 50 years ago, Kelebone Letsoela would wake up very early in the morning to fetch water. The village well was about half a kilometre away from her home.

She would literally sprint to the well to be first in the queue, before the water ran out.

Every day, the young women of the village would tussle to get water first.

Now aged 85, her strength has been sapped.

“I walk a long distance to fetch water and my strength can only allow me to carry five litres of water from the well to my home,” Letsoela says.

Those sad memories will now be a thing of the past for the newer generation, thanks to the setting up of taps in the village by the Ministry of Water Affairs last week.

“Our grandchildren are so lucky to be here when taps are just a walk away from their homes,” she says.

’Makananelo Mojakisane, 72, says the well in the donga has always been their only source of water for the entire Letsoela village.

Letsoela, Mojakisane and 85-year-old ’Malitlhare Litlhai are some of the oldest women of Ha-Letsoela, one of Leribe district’s rural areas.

Situated about 90 kilometres north of Maseru, Ha-Letsoela is a village of peasants who depend on subsistence farming for a living.

There are no irrigation projects because of the severe shortage of water.

“Water has been the biggest problem for the community for many years,” Mojakisane says, adding that she takes about 20 minutes to walk to the well.

Litlhai says it was even worse for them as they are now old and have to fetch water with a five litre bucket because of old age.

She says their grandchildren go to school very early in the morning and come back at dusk, which forces the elderly women to fetch water themselves.

“They go to school and come back late but when they do arrive they also cannot carry big buckets of water because they are still very young,” Litlhai says.

It was against this background that when Water Affairs Minister Ralechate ’Mokose officially opened eight taps for the village last week, some of the villagers burst into tears, with some ululating with joy.

The village chief, Tefo Letsoela, says theirs was a journey of tears for years.

“We are very happy that today we are like other villages which have access to piped water. It has been a long journey of tears between us and the Rural Water Supply (RWS) in a quest to get water for this village, and today we are very grateful that our tears have been wiped away, our cry for water has been answered,” Chief Letsoela says.

“I would always visit the RWS offices daily so much that we had lost hope as the villagers of Ha-Letsoela that we would be answered but we are happy to see that following our last visit to your offices our prayers have been answered.”

The villagers said they were looking forward to the installation of the water taps in their village.

Ha-Letsoela was one of 82 villages that were selected by the Ministry of Water Affairs for the provision of water during the 2016/2017 financial year.

The project, which also benefits the neighbouring villages of Qopana and Ha-Nteleki is said to have cost at least M685 000.

The Ha-Letsoela village tank sits on a hilltop where water is pumped from the source using electricity and then distributed to the eight taps.

“This is your tank and these are your taps, let us not vandalise what belongs to us especially water that is so important in our lives,” Chief Letsoela told the villagers.

The Bela-Bela MP, former Agriculture Minister Litšoane Litšoane, commended Water Minister Ralechate ’Mokose for delivering water to the village.

“Today we receive a gift that was given to the people of Ha-Letsoela and Qopana through a ministry that is led by you. I have known you to be strong in delivery service more so when you hold a ministry that has so much impact on people’s lives,” Litšoane says.

“We have given you money in Parliament. Do what you can do to provide water for this nation although the money we gave you is too little,” he says.

’Mokose says he is very delighted to have yet another project through his ministry because as a servant of the nation he has a mandate to answer to the needs and requests of the nation.

litsoane and mmokose“I was chosen by the people because I had sold myself to them and made them believe in me that I will be a good voice for them in parliament and we need to fulfil the promises we gave them,” ’Mokose says.

’Mokose says the government understands the power that water holds and that the economy of the country rests on water and is a basic need to sustain life.

 

’Mokose says he expects the contractor, Shames Construction, to build a sustainable water project because if not “we will never use your construction company in any project because it would not have lived up to its promises”.

However, ’Mokose says a sustainable water project needs to be taken care of and have parts of the system changed and cleaned regularly.

“That is the duty of the water minder whom I am aware that you have as a district,” he says.

Litšoane and Chief Letsoela said the entire constituency of Bela-Bela is in dire need of water with most of the tanks and water systems that were built in the past not functioning.

“We used to drink from springs, then hand water pumps were introduced which were followed by wheel water pumps, solar generated water and now it is electricity water tanks and most have failed us,” Chief Letsoela says.

Chief Letsoela says one of the tanks that are still working has been destroyed by floods.

Litšoane says villages in the constituency such as Kolojane and Ha-Nkuebe that have a water system running on a diesel generator no longer access water because diesel is expensive.

“We suggest that electricity should be installed for the village of Ha-Letsoela so it would be easy for people in Ha-Nkuebe to run the machine electrically,” Litšoane said.

“It is only when such machine works that people will take good care of it unlike when it does not work,” Litšoane adds.

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