The angels of hope

The angels of hope

…Queen’s Trust Fund sends children back to school…

MASERU – If all goes well, Lesenyeho Mahlomola, 28, will in two years’ time graduate from the National University of Lesotho (NUL) with a Bachelor of Pharmacy degree, an important qualification that should put him in good stead for a well-rewarding career in the pharmaceuticals industry.
Besides a potentially promising career, there is, as he pointed out to our news crew in an interview this week, the bonus of setting a family record that he needs to think about.

When he graduates in 2022 Mahlomola will become the first in his family to hold a university degree, not a small achievement for someone whose school career was 13 years ago essentially a write-off.

Forced to quit school just after completing his primary education in 2006 because there was no money to pay for high school, Mahlomola – who says he learned at a very young age to “strive hard” and “persevere” – took up a job herding cattle in his rural Mpharane home in Mohale’s Hoek district.

Next he would try his hand working as a conductor on one of the taxis that ply the Mohale’s Hoek town to ’Masemouse route.
By then Mahlomola says he had given up hope of ever setting foot in a classroom again. Unable to raise enough cash from his menial jobs to send himself to school and without any hope he could get help with money for school fees he had simply resigned himself to his fate.

But Lady Luck, as she often does in cases like this, would come to the rescue when with the help of the Assemblies of God Church that he attends. In 2012 Mahlomola found himself in the audience of Queen ’Masenate Mohato Seeiso.
That encounter with the Queen that church youth leader Ntoetse Letsie helped set up would, as it turned out, literally reset the former school dropout, cattle herdsman and public taxi conductor’s life.

Offered an opportunity to go back to school funded by the Queen’s Trust Fund, Mahlomola grabbed it with both hands, enrolling for Form A with the Mount Tabor’s Assemblies of God High School – a good six years late than he should have.

While it is understandable that Mahlomola would take the first available opportunity to go back to school this, however, meant he would be sitting in class with children six years or more younger than him, something many would balk at.

But not Mahlomola. He said the age difference or the fact that he would look out of place among the younger children bothered him the least.
His dream to finally quench his thirst for education was far bigger than concerns about whether he looked taller, older or bigger than his classmates, he said.

“I knew this was what I wanted,” he told thepost, adding all negative thoughts about his situation could not overshadow the greater goal to learn. And as the cliché goes, the rest is history.

Now in his second year at the NUL, Mahlomola has become an inspiration to youths in his village, thanks to his diligent use of the opportunity that came his way and thanks also to the Queen’s Trust Fund whose efforts have helped give hope to many children across the country.

Established in 1985 by the late Queen ’Mamohato Bereng Seeiso — and now under the leadership of Queen ’Masenate since the 2003 death of the former – the fund seeks to alleviate suffering of children from poor and disadvantaged backgrounds, including those living with disability.
It raises funding from local donors and through events such as its annual gala dinner held at Avani Maseru last Friday.

The fund certainly needs all the support it can get given the tough assignment that it has set itself, trying to help lift out of poverty children in a country with the high levels of privation such as Lesotho.
But it is a challenge that the fund has so far been equal to as Mahlomola or Katleho Mosate, another beneficiary, will testify.

Mosate, who is also a volunteer with the fund, said it was playing critical role in communities, telling our news crew that once she gets a salaried job she will be contributing to its coffers because she has witnessed firsthand the immense work it has before it.
“The conditions I have witnessed of vulnerability among children are distressing,” said Mosate, whose work at the fund includes helping identify poor children needing support.

“Children are subjected to the lowest, most inhumane experiences of poverty in some parts of the country and this is why I pledge to contribute to the fund when I start working,” added Mosate, who like Mahlomola would have had to cut her studies prematurely were it not for the fund.

When she could no longer afford to pay for her development and sociology studies at the NUL, Mosate dropped out to look for a job.
She got one in neighbouring South Africa as a domestic worker, an experience she described simply as having been “horrific”.
When it failed to work out in South Africa, Mosate returned home and approached the Queen’s Fund for assistance to pay for her studies.

But it could not help because its policy requires that it assists children in primary and secondary school only.
However, the fund did not shut the door on Mosate, offering her a job and instead of paying her salary directly to her the money was channeled to the NUL as payment for her tuition fees. As result she was able to carry on with her studies, successfully graduating last September.

In another case where the fund stepped in to save a school career, Teboho Mosothoane was firmly set to spend the rest of his life herding sheep in Quthing where he comes from because there was no money for further education after he completed primary school in 2011.
But it all changed, he said, when one day in 2013 he received a call from Letsie, the Assemblies of God Church youth leader, “telling me I had been chosen to be part of a scholarship programme”.

Using the savings accumulated from his earnings as a shepherd, Mosothoane travelled to Mt Tabor High School to begin secondary education.
It has not been easy and the 22-year old Mosothoane has had to hustle hard on the side to raise money for other essential expenses not covered by the scholarship.

But his efforts paid off as he successfully completed the Lesotho General Certificate of Secondary Education (LGCSE) examinations.
Mosothoane, who said he cannot thank the Queen’s fund enough, said he is looking forward to enrolling for tertiary education in the coming year.
And there are many across the country who, like Mosothoane, Mosate or Mahlomola, will vouch that they had given up hope until the fund stepped in.

Rose Moremoholo

 

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