Daring to dream

Daring to dream

….Higherlife Foundation gives hope to desperate yet brilliant kids…..

MASERU – AFTER the death of her single mother, Relebohile Ferete was close to considering entering into marriage as a teen.
But today, the 22-year-old is in her fifth and final year at university.
Empowered, she feels she is firmly on the path to achieving her life dreams, thanks to a lifeline offered by one of Africa’s most charitable organisations, HigherLife Foundation.

“I have been afforded a chance to pursue my dreams,” she says of her journey since being taken on board by Higherlife Foundation.
“I now feel like a child again, I do not carry as much anger and bitterness like I used to,” she said, adding that chances are she would have long gotten married as is the case with many girls from vulnerable backgrounds.
Ferete was speaking at a fundraising event where various corporate organisations committed over M300 000 to help Higherlife Foundation to continue with its mission to help children from poor and vulnerable backgrounds.

Econet Telecom Lesotho, which is closely linked to Higherlife Foundation, invited several companies in the country to the fundraising dinner where they pledged to contribute to HigherLife Foundation’s education initiatives.
Orphans are among those that have and will continue to benefit from the foundation’s generosity.
There are an estimated 350 000 orphans in Lesotho, most who end up forced to leave school to make ends meet.
Ferete’s story is testimony of how Higherlife Foundation has been able to change lives.

After completing her primary school in 2008, she did not know how she would make it through high school.
Her mother died when she was six-years old and she never knew her father.
She only had an aunt who was a factory worker to take care of her and her sister.
Although things were not looking good in 2009 she headed for Mafeteng to start her high school at Lesaoana Secondary School.
However, due to lack of funds she could not start school in January like other learners.

“I did not have uniform, stationery or school fees. I only went to school in April after the principal promised to try to get me a scholarship to cover for everything,” Ferete says.
She however did not get a scholarship until 2011 when her principal told her that Econet Lesotho had offered to sponsor her education.
She managed to pass with flying colours even though the odds were against her.
“It was only then that I started feeling like a child. I felt a burden leave my shoulders and I could finally focus on my studies like other children,” Ferete says.

Ferete wanted to pursue business and commercial studies as she was good in maths and accounting.
“When I was introduced to HigherLife, I was told that I would become anything I wanted to become as long as I worked hard and got good grades.”
Later in 2011 she transferred to ’Mabathoana High school in Maseru and she was staying at Ha-Pita.
“Things were tough, I walked to and from school. I did not have a lunchbox, my aunt made too little money and there were too many bills to be paid,” she recalls.
HigherLife came to her rescue and provided her with transport money.

When her aunt got sick during her first year at the National University of Lesotho (NUL), pursuing a BA in Law, HigherLife paid rent and bought them food.
In 2015 her aunt died leaving her with no one to take care of her but Econet Telecom Lesotho.
Next year she will leave to do her master’s degree abroad.

’Malerato Takana’s son is studying at Harvard University in the United States. A widow, she says she would have been unable to afford his education had Higherlife Foundation not intervened.
“I lost my husband in a car accident and was struggling to make ends meet for his education. I knew that beyond Form Five I would not be able to assist him,” Takana says.
She then approached Econet Telecom Lesotho and asked for assistance and she was told that as long as her son performed well he would get a scholarship.

“In Form C he came out on top in the whole country and in Form five he was in the top four,” Takana says.
Her son was sponsored to do his undergraduate degree at Waterford University in Swaziland and later moved to Harvard to further his studies.
She wishes other underprivileged children can also benefit.
“I am pleading with the business community to continue extending a helping hand because there are so many children who are brilliant and passionate about education whose parents do not have the resources to allow them to further their studies,” Takana says.

Dennis Plaatjies, the CEO for Econet Telecom Lesotho, says the company contributes two percent of its annual revenue towards HigherLife Foundation in the quest to mould future leaders.
He indicated that because there are numerous children from vulnerable families the task at hand is now bigger than Econet Telecom Lesotho, hence the appeal for other corporate organisations to chip in.
He indicated that the foundation does not force students to come back to Lesotho after studies but understands that they can still serve the country wherever they are in the world.

Several companies like Metropolitan Lesotho, Alliance Insurance, Lilaphalapha Logistics, Blue Ribbon Bakery and Maseru Toyota pledged to assist Econet Telecom Lesotho to raise funds towards educating future leaders.
Since 2011 HigherLife Foundation has assisted about 1 200 students. Some have graduated and are already making waves locally and abroad.
Currently there are 75 students in local tertiary schools, six in Waterford in Swaziland and five at Harvard.
One is already working at the Bank of America.

Lemohang Rakotsoane

 

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