The clinic ’Mateboho built

The clinic ’Mateboho built

Staff Reporter

MASERU – WHEN ’Mateboho Lydia Seboka and her husband finally received a response from the bank, the message was blunt: We do not finance building projects of that nature!

She was devastated.

But instead of sitting down and mourning, ’Mateboho and her husband decided to proceed with their dream of building a state-of-the-art clinic in Maseru that would provide world-class services to Basotho.

They were charting into what was entirely virgin territory.

After being sent from pillar to post at the banks, the Sebokas finally decided to start building in May 2013.

Two years after work began an impressive structure housing a maternity ward, a pharmacy and antenatal clinic was put in place.

“When God closes the other door, he opens another! We saw that we really did not need the loan from the bank to complete the project because God provided,” she says.

The Bathopele Clinic in Motimposo provides yet another vivid reminder of what happens when you have a dream and are focused to fulfil it.

Although she had a dream, ’Mateboho was never sure whether they would succeed in completing the project without a bank loan.

So every day as the structure went up, she would have anxious moments. When anxiety began to eat her up, she says she found true comfort from her husband who urged her to “continue to believe” in the dream!

“It was quite a very difmateboho-lydia-seboka-1ficult decision to take because we always wondered, ‘What if we fail?’ But by God’s grace, we began and by the grace of God we completed the project.”

For ’Mateboho the seeds of her new clinic were planted almost 10 years ago when she began operating a small clinic, Bathopele Clinic, in her backyard in Motimposo in 2006.

She says the clinic’s motto was driven by her desire to put “people first”.

“To me patients come first, they are my priority,” she says.

With its excellent services and attention to detail Bathopele Clinic became a household name in Maseru with antenatal ladies flocking to the clinic for medical help.

“We provided quality work and the people said they were satisfied with our services. However because the clinic was in our yard it soon became clear that it was becoming too small,” she says.

Some of her patients would also tell her they were concerned because she would take care of them from the beginning of their pregnancy and when they were about to deliver they would not know where to go.

“That got me concerned. Labour is a tough experience. You need someone you know with whom you would have travelled on this road together,” she says.

“It was at that moment that I began planning to build a facility that would care for mothers who would want to deliver their babies.”

’Mateboho says even when she was still a young girl in Ha-Mokhehle village in Teya-teyaneng she was driven by a singular thought: that she would grow up to be a nurse.

“I guess it was a calling right from a young age,” she says.

While other girls her age would go through school without knowing what career path they would choose, ’Mateboho says she was determined to be a nurse.

And so when she completed her Cambridge Overseas School Certificate in 1984, she joined the Maluti Adventist School of Nursing.

She completed her Diploma in General Nursing in 1988 and enrolled for a Diploma in Midwifery the following year.

“The training for nurses then was quite tough and when you completed you could stand on your own,” she says.

’Mateboho however says the quality of nurses coming out of training colleges has deteriorated over the years largely because the classes have become too big.

“The intake has become too high resulting in more theory and less practicals. For example, when I was at Maluti the class was not more than 20 students but now most of the nursing colleges take up to 100 students per class or even more.”

When the students are finally sent on attachment, “nobody follows them up”. The result is that the graduates from nursing colleges “need a lot of mentoring” when they get their first jobs.

She also says some of the nursing students “are doing nursing not because it is in their heart but merely as a job”.

“Yet nursing needs somebody with a passion and love for the people.”

Over the last 26 years she has been practising, ’Mateboho has been in the thick of battle as Lesotho fought pandemic diseases such as HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.

She remembers vividly how she and her fellow colleagues were sent into panic mode when, for the first time, they had to deal with a patient they suspected was HIV positive in the early 1990s.

“We were quite afraid because we did not have much knowledge about HIV/AIDS then.”

When she looks back 26 years after those early days, ’Mateboho cannot but marvel at the tremendous gains Lesotho has scored in the fight against the pandemic.

Lesotho, which lies at the epicenter of the HIV pandemic, has the third highest HIV prevalence rate in the world, according to international aid agencies. A third of the country’s 1.8 million people are also HIV positive.

Despite those dire statistics, Lesotho has over the years taken giant steps in fighting the pandemic.

“Lesotho has done its best in communicating and making people aware of HIV/AIDS and how it is spread. They are also aware that they have to know their status,” she says.

She says she would also give Lesotho a 95 percent pass-mark “on the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission” programme.

The government’s programme to roll out free ARVs to patients is yet another plus for Lesotho, she says.

“We have done extremely well on that even though there is still room to improve,” she says.

However, while Lesotho has done well in providing free ARVs in government clinics and hospitals, institutions such as her clinic are not covered under the scheme.

After testing for HIV the clinic refers the patients to government clinics for further management, a situation she says is making some patients default on their programme to take their medication.

’Mateboho was born on March 25, 1968 to a father who was a migrant worker in Welkom, South Africa, and a mother who was a peasant farmer in Ha-Mokhehle in Teya-teyaneng.

While the family was struggling financially, her parents did everything within their power to ensure all their children – three boys and two girls – went to school.

“They spent all their income on our education,” she says.

The lessons she learnt from a young age appear to be finally paying some dividends.

She says in life, one must have “passion and determination if you are to achieve what you want”.

’Mateboho says all that she has achieved could not have been possible “without the support of my husband”.

Quick Facts:

  • Born March 25, 1968
  • Began school at Mokhehle Primary School in 1974
  • Completed COSC at St Agnes in 1984
  • Completed Diploma in Nursing at Maluti Adventist School of Nursing in 1988
  • Completed Diploma in Midwifery in 1989
  • Served as a nurse at Maluti Adventist Hospital in the maternity department from 1990 to 1995
  • Worked as a nurse at Maluti Health Centre in Maseru from 1996 to 2002
  • Enrolled at University of Free State; graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Primary Health Care, Community Health Nursing and Nursing Management in 2005
  • Began operating Bathopele Clinic in 2006
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