Ger­man teen lends help­ing hand

Lesotho Times - - News - Makhopotso Mothusi

WHEN Inka Spira last year took home a copy of a Ger­man news­pa­per with an ar­ti­cle high­light­ing a fundrais­ing pi­lot in Le­sotho, lit­tle did she know it would at­tract the at­ten­tion of her son, Ro­man, and one day take the fam­ily to the King­dom in the Sky.

It was a few days be­fore Ro­man’s 16th birth­day on 30 June when he saw the ar­ti­cle and the teenager de­cided he wanted to do some­thing spe­cial on this spe­cial day.

Af­ter read­ing the story an­nounc­ing the launch of the World Food Pro­gramme (WFP) Sharethe­meal fundrais­ing App — a com­puter pro­gramme de­signed to run on mo­bile de­vices such as smart­phones and tablet com­put­ers — all the boy wanted on his birth­day was to do­nate some money to preschool chil­dren in Le­sotho through this ini­tia­tive.

The App was launched in Ger­man-speak­ing coun­tries in June 2015 and pi­loted to raise funds for meals for 50,000 chil­dren in Le­sotho.

“I had planned a fam­ily get-to­gether for his birth­day but he in­sisted some of the money had to buy food for the needy chil­dren in Le­sotho,” said Ms Spira dur­ing a visit to Thuto-ke-leseli Preschool on Tues­day last week, along­side her son Ro­man.

The preschool, which is sit­u­ated in Ha Mantsebo vil­lage, ac­com­mo­dates 80 chil­dren.

Ro­man and his two brothers — 13-year-old Aaron and Mi­lan (19) — agreed they would each do­nate M2,700 (150 Euros), and at least feed three chil­dren for a year.

Dur­ing last week’s do­na­tion, Ro­man ex­plained how he re­searched Le­sotho af­ter read­ing about the WFP App’s launch. It was dur­ing this re­search that he learnt the coun­try was com­pletely sur­rounded by South Africa, he said.

“When my mom said she was trav­el­ling to South Africa on holiday, I was fas­ci­nated and asked if I could join her,” said Ro­man. “I thought this was a great op­por­tu­nity for me to see if the M8,000 (450 Euros) I and my brothers con­trib­uted had reached the in­tend- ed ben­e­fi­cia­ries.”

Un­sure whether fol­low­ing up on her chil­dren’s money was ap­pro­pri­ate, Ms Spira early this year con­tacted WFP of­fices in Ger­many on the is­sue. And when this re­quest was trans­mit­ted to WFP Le­sotho, it was granted, lead­ing to last week’s visit.

Dur­ing Tues­day’s visit, Ro­man pre­sented Thuto-ke-leseli Preschool with 150 pen­cils and rub­bers and six sharp­en­ers.

“I was not sure what to bring the chil­dren, so the first thing that came to my mind was that preschool stu­dents do a lot of draw­ing,” said Ro­man, all smiles with ex­cited chil­dren around him.

Ro­man said he was happy to see that de­spite the dev­as­tat­ing drought in Le­sotho, the chil­dren had some­thing to eat, al­though more sup­port was needed at the preschool.

“Le­sotho is dif­fer­ent from Ger­many but I like it. I was ex­pect­ing to see some class­rooms, which is not the case as the chil­dren are learn­ing crowded in a small class­room,” he said.

Ro­man, who is in­ter­ested in pho­tog­ra­phy and video-pro­duc­tion, took some pic­tures of the stu­dents at the preschool, which he said he would share with his friends back home.

“I would like my friends to know that giv­ing to oth­ers is ful­fill­ing. I am happy to be one of the peo­ple who con­trib­uted to the food these chil­dren will eat for months and for mak­ing them so happy,” he said.

Mean­while, fol­low­ing the launch of the WFP App, 120,000 peo­ple in Ger­man-speak­ing coun­tries down­loaded the pro­gramme and raised M14 mil­lion ($850,000) to pro­vide 1.7 mil­lion school meals to 50,000 chil­dren in more than 2,000 preschools in Le­sotho for two terms. WFP was able to buy for­ti­fied por­ridge, maize meal, vegetable oil and peas with the money.

The suc­cess of the pi­lot in Le­sotho led to the global roll-out of Sharethe­meal in 2016, with fundrais­ing ac­tiv­i­ties spread­ing to coun­tries such as Jor­dan and Syria.

Mr Se­bas­tian Stricker, head of Sharethe­meal, says he is happy with the progress made since the suc­cess of the pi­lot in Le­sotho.

“Our first goal was to sup­port the chil­dren in Le­sotho. The needs are very high, with many chil­dren suf­fer­ing from chronic mal­nu­tri­tion. The Sharethe­meal App pro­vides an easy and so­cial way to help these chil­dren. Users can fol­low the progress of our fundrais­ing ef­forts through the App and see where we have al­ready helped. We are very happy to see that the first tar­get in Le­sotho was reached in a few months,” he says.

Ro­man hands over some pen­cils to Thuto-ke-leseli preschool teacher Pinki ma­soetsa. Look­ing on is his mother Inka Spira and WFP School Feed­ing Pro­gramme Of­fi­cer, Nte­baleng Thet­sane.

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