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When the blind see again

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MAPOTENG – AT MALUTI Seventh Day Adventist Hospital, the blind see again.
Mention the name Mapoteng, a semi-urban town on the foothills of a range of Maluti Mountains in Berea district where the hospital is situated, and those around you are likely to say Lingakeng.
The hospital has given Mapoteng its surname Lingakeng (where doctors are) because of the meticulous way its doctors and nurses take care of patients.

The hospital is well known countrywide and beyond for its first class eye treatment and surgery.
While many Basotho go to South Africa for treatment for conditions such as cancer, many South Africans come to Lesotho for eye surgery at the Maluti Hospital.

“We are proud and at the same time grateful to God that many patients come to us totally blind but within a day or two they go back to their homes seeing,” Moroesi Kokome, the hospital’s Human Resource Manager, says.
“It is touches our hearts to see an elderly woman coming to the hospital totally blind and when her vision is restored she leaps like a little child with joy,” Kokome says.

“You too will shed tears of joy when you see the elderly looking at different directions and joyfully exclaiming that she didn’t know that the dress she is wearing is beautiful,” she says.
A student doctor at the hospital’s eye treatment department, Lereko Thokoa, who is also an ophthalmic nurse, says some of the patients are in their 90s and their vision is restored.

“What makes me happy is to see them seeing again,” Thokoa says.
When someone is old, especially over 80 years, their blindness is often described as part of ageing and they are not taken to a doctor for eye treatment.

Aware of this practice throughout Lesotho’s villages, the hospital has trained a man to identify different kinds of blindness so that he can advise patients to go for a specific kind of treatment.
The man goes around the country and especially targets hard to reach areas where he assesses people’s blindness and help them book appointments with the hospital.

At least three to four times a year the hospital engages specialists from abroad to conduct intricate eye operations for patients who have booked appointments. This week the hospital has invited specialists from Mexico.
When thepost visited the hospital on Tuesday, tens of eye patients were arriving from all over the country for further examinations and treatment.
Sitting on benches in the passage leading to Thokoa’s examination office, young and old patients waited patiently for their names to be called.

An elderly woman who was aided by her granddaughter to Thokoa’s office could not believe that she would see again after five years of blindness.
“I don’t even know how my house looks like nowadays,” she says to the granddaughter, leaning on her shoulder as they walk through the crowd of the blind going to Thokoa’s office.

“You will see it tomorrow and you will see how I have grown up,” the granddaughter reassures her.
Although the blind people came in great numbers for the appointments, Kokome says the expected Mexican doctors’ coming had been delayed by a day “because of some logistical problems”.

Maluti Hospital is not only well known for its exceptional eye treatment programme but has gone an extra mile in helping the communities solve other health problems as well. A 62-year-old Boose Manyebusa cannot stop marvelling at how the hospital has extended its helping hand to students and teachers at Basotho’s traditional initiation schools.

The hospital, which is owned by the Seventh Day Adventist Church, is opposed to some traditions practiced at initiation schools but it made sure that the church’s dogma does not cloud the need to help the initiates.
Manyebusa, from a nearby Kubetu Ha-Ntsoso, says the hospital recruited an initiated man so that he can go to various initiation schools in the area to supply antiretroviral tablets to students and teachers living with HIV.

“I have never heard anything like it before,” Manyebusa says.
It is common knowledge in Lesotho that medical doctors and traditional ones do not see eye to eye and they rarely work together.
“It is a fine example set by this hospital to send the man to initiation schools so that the students do not die of HIV-related illnesses,” Manyebusa says.
“I wish all hospitals throughout the country can follow this example.”

The hospital has gone an extra mile in another way to help the community around it.
It is training the local community on best practices of farming and cooking so that they do not have malnutrition-related illnesses.
Situated atop the Mapoteng Plateau, the hospital is surrounded by villages grappling with severe soil erosion in which large parts of agricultural land has been washed away revealing white patch of sandstone.

Aware of the impending poverty if the situation is not reversed, the hospital started a project through which it teaches villagers how to conserve soil and use land profitably by growing food.
It started in mid-2000 when many people were dying due to AIDS-related diseases and leaving orphans and the elderly to plough the fields.
The hospital worked shoulder to shoulder with the church to establish agricultural projects at village level.
Experts from the government and friends of the church from abroad helped immensely in seeing the success of the projects.
’Mankotso Mokaoli, a local chief’s sister, says the help from the hospital “is one that you cannot finish describing because it is so big that everyone around here is benefitting”.

“We have greenhouses in which we plant vegetables for year-round consumption because of this hospital,” Mokaoli says.
But to a 87-year-old ’Mamoorosi Mokaoli, the chief’s mother, “the hospital is a precious gift from God Almighty”.
“Before the hospital was established we used to go to TY on foot to see a doctor,” she says, adding: “There was nobody with a car in this village and nearby ones.”

“Now when I am sick I just call for an ambulance and I will be taken to the hospital, very close to my home,” she says.
TY is some 35 kilometres away from Mapoteng.
Indeed the hospital has proved to be a unique gift, as many villagers say.

One of the patients, Lefa, who had travelled 20 kilometres from Maputsoe to the hospital, says he spent over a month at the hospital.
“The nurses were good to me, something you rarely see in Lesotho’s hospitals,” Lefa says.
He was hospitalised from October 2 to November 8.

Kokome says the hospital staff is taken to refresher courses every year “so that they don’t forget the importance of treating patients with love and show them pity”. The hospital was established in 1951 by the Lesotho Seventh Day Adventist Church with the help of its missionaries from different countries.

Kokome says over the years it depended on help from missionaries who have contacts all over the world.
The hospital spends about M40 million annually for its upkeep.
Kokome says 70 percent of the budget comes from the government after the Ministry of Health signed an agreement with Christian Health Association of Lesotho (CHAL) to source services from church-owned hospitals and clinics.

It has 150 beds, 40 midwives and over 100 other professional workers with the exclusion of doctors.
It has six health centres in Kolo, Maseru, Mapheleng, Fobane, Maputsoe and Levi’s Nek.

Caswell Tlali

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Short courses for ex-mineworkers

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THE Lesotho Diamond Academy has introduced mining short courses, particularly to ex-mineworkers, to help them re-enter the mining sector.
The Essential Introductory Courses, which will run for two weeks, will start from June this year. The courses are meant particularly for people who worked in mines in South Africa.

The Academy’s CEO, Relebohile Molefe, unveiled the new courses during the graduation of 18 students last week, four of whom are now armed with Cutting and Polishing certificates while 14 graduated with Rough Diamond Evaluation certificates.

The new courses include the Essential Certificate in Diamond Grading and the Essential Certificate in Diamond Evaluation.

“The decision to offer these courses aligns with the Academy’s dedication to bridge the gap and ensure that individuals with valuable experience can seamlessly reintegrate into the diamond and jewelry industry,” Molefe said.

“By providing short courses, the academy does not only impart essential skills but also contributes to the sector’s growth by reactivating experienced individuals who had lost access to the industry due to no formal documents showing their experience in the industry,’’ she said.

During the graduation celebration, Molefe also unveiled a new sponsorship programme for various courses.

One outstanding student previously sponsored, who demonstrated exceptional proficiency in Rough Diamond Evaluation, was granted a fully funded bursary to further his studies into Advanced Certificate in Round Diamond Brilliantering.

In pursuit of its multifaceted objectives, one of which is to serve as a catalyst for employers in the diamond and jewelry sector to devise skills development strategies, the Academy is set to sponsor four additional students in the upcoming intake starting from February 15.

Two of these bursaries will afford a 30 percent discount on overall fees for two students progressing from Cutting and Polishing to advanced studies in Rough Diamond Evaluation.

Two will be fully funded bursaries to study for a Certificate in Diamond Cutting and Polishing.

Additionally, the institution will extend two fully funded bursaries to the public, fostering inclusivity and expanding opportunities.

The Academy says it plans to announce the search for two deserving Basotho individuals on its social media pages and website.

“Importantly, the bursary programme bears no age restrictions, reflecting a commitment to fairness and inclusiveness, ensuring that opportunities are accessible to all, irrespective of age,” it says in a statement.

The Academy says it seeks “to be a dynamic force in shaping the industry, not just within national borders, but also on regional and international platforms”.

“The emphasis on competitiveness within these markets underscores the institution’s commitment to producing graduates who are not only proficient but also globally competitive,” the statement reads.

“The recent graduation ceremony symbolises a milestone in the Academy’s journey. The success of its students is a testament to the quality of education and the foresight embedded in the curriculum.”

The Academy says its decision to sponsor further education for outstanding performers reflects a belief in nurturing talent and contributing to the continuous improvement of the diamond industry.

The Lesotho Diamond Academy was founded by the late Mpalipali Molefe, a prominent educator, diamond trader and an MP, who recognised the imperative to elevate professionalism in the diamond industry.

Staff Reporter

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Bank hands over uniforms to students

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THE Lesotho Post Bank donated uniforms to students at Leqele High School worth a staggering M60 000 as part of its Back-To-School campaign.
The bank said it did this “to keep needy children in school and to promote their education”.

A teacher at the school, Tšepo Semethe, said the uniforms will likely motivate the students to work harder in their studies.

Semethe insisted on giving the bank the names of the students so that it could check their performance at the end of the year.

“At Leqele High School, we work very hard because what we want is excellence above all. To us, hard work pays,” he said.

The bank’s Chief Risk Officer, Molefi Khama, said they are getting old, they will soon retire and Lesotho Post Bank will be in the hands of these children.

He pleaded with the students to work harder.

“This is why we decided to come here to support the students in their education so that when coming to school, they should be confident,” Khama said.

“We are watching you and waiting on you,” he said.

The school’s head prefect, Tholoana Monatsi, said from now on, “no student will be identified by what they wear”.

“(Lesotho) Post Bank made us one and we thank them for that because what we wear cannot stand before our education. We indeed thank you and forever you will hold special places in our hearts,” she said.

A parent, ’Marorisang Latela, said they were very grateful for the gift from Lesotho Post Bank adding that they must also donate to other schools.

Minister of Trade, Mokethi Shelile, promised to go back to the school to discuss how the children could learn in comfortable surroundings.

Relebohile Tšepe

 

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Mamello School of Special Needs wins prize

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MAMELLO School of Special Needs is the first-place winner of Standard Lesotho Bank’s Scaled-Up Pitching Den held at Maseru Avani on Tuesday.
The school has secured a grand prize for an all-expenses-paid trip to Kenya to participate as a finalist representing Lesotho at the Standard Bank Africa Awards.

The school, pioneered in 2020 during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic through Zoom classes, deals with children who live with conditions such as autism, attachment disorders, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) dyslexia, Down syndrome and slow learners.


STKTM Solutions claimed the second-place spot, receiving a commendable M10 000, while Masia Farms secured third place and a M5 000 prize.


Pheello Masia of Masia Farms, thanked Standard Lesotho Bank for backing their vision and that of other Basotho entrepreneurs.


He acknowledged that the bank’s faith in their endeavours serves as a source of inspiration, propelling them to work harder and foster growth within the community.


The event, aimed at fortifying support and fostering regional integration for Basotho entrepreneurs across the African continent, showcased the bank’s commitment to driving the growth of Lesotho.


Malatola Phothane, Head of Enterprise Banking at Standard Lesotho Bank, set the tone in his welcoming remarks.


“As Standard Lesotho Bank, through business and commercial banking, we strive to turn possibilities into opportunities,” Phothane said.


“Lesotho is our home, and we drive her growth,” he said.


His words resonated with the bank’s dedication to nurturing local talent and fostering economic development.


Phothane acknowledged the eight finalists, commending them for their resilience and passion for their businesses.


He emphasised how each entrepreneur had stood their ground, displaying knowledge and unwavering commitment.


The recognition not only highlighted the achievements of the finalists but also underscored the bank’s role in recognising and uplifting the entrepreneurial spirit within the community.


Aliciah Motšoane, founder of Prestige Furnitures and Sentebale Gap Funeral Services, played a significant role at the event as a motivational speaker, sharing her entrepreneurial journey filled with challenges and triumphs.


She recounted her humble beginnings when she was selling bread in high school, leading to the establishment of Prestige Furnitures in 1998.


Despite facing a significant setback after her shop was burnt down during the riots and incurring a loss of M5 million, Motšoane never gave up.


She said business is always a demanding endeavour adding that it needs hard work and a unique mindset.


She urged entrepreneurs to embrace their roots, seek inspiration, and persevere through challenges.


The keynote speaker, the bank’s Head of Business and Commercial Clients, Keketso Makara, said the bank is committed to foster a thriving business environment, highlighting the pivotal role of youth collaboration across diverse economic sectors.


Makara said their mandate aims to empower youths in steering the private sector towards growth, contributing to economic diversification.


Makara urged the eight finalists to actively involve bankers in refining their proposals for maximum impact on economic stimulation and sustainable development.


The bank said the Scaled-Up Pitching Den not only served as a stage for entrepreneurs to present their ventures but also acted as a driving force for networking, collaboration, and collective empowerment.

Staff Reporter

 

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