A vi­sion of hope for so­ci­ety

Lesotho Times - - Feature - Makhopotso Mothusi

WORLD Vi­sion In­ter­na­tional is known for its unique ap­proach to de­vel­op­ment is­sues, par­tic­u­larly those which seek to al­le­vi­ate the suf­fer­ing of less-for­tu­nate mem­bers of so­ci­ety.

A global Chris­tian re­lief, de­vel­op­ment and ad­vo­cacy or­gan­i­sa­tion ded­i­cated to work­ing with the most vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren, fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties and help­ing them over­come poverty and in­jus­tice, the Le­sotho of­fice has made ev­ery ef­fort pos­si­ble to live up to this vi­sion through var­i­ous ini­tia­tives.

But with Le­sotho fac­ing sev­eral so­cial chal­lenges, among them a high Hiv-preva­lence which at 23 per­cent is the sec­ond-high­est in the world, as well as a crip­pling drought — the country’s worst in 40 years — World Vi­sion Na­tional Di­rec­tor, Ms Pauline Okumu, is very much aware of the daunt­ing task that lies ahead for her or­gan­i­sa­tion in its quest to help al­le­vi­ate the suf­fer­ing of Ba­sotho.

Over the last two years, World Vi­sion Le­sotho has helped en­hance the lives of vul­ner­a­ble com­mu­ni­ties through Sav­ings Group Schemes launched in many parts of the country, but ac­cord­ing to Ms Okumu, the or­ga­ni­za­tion has since changed its strate­gies to meet the chal­lenges in­creased by the El Niño-in­duced drought.

“We have launched our new strat­egy for 2016-2020 which seeks to sig­nif­i­cantly con­trib­ute to im­proved and sus­tained well­be­ing of the most vul­ner­a­ble 550,000 boys and girls this year, im­prove the re­silience of house­holds usu­ally af­fected by weath­er­shocks through en­vi­ron­men­tal man­age­ment ac­tiv­i­ties, sup­port the de­vel­op­ment of early child­hood care and de­vel­op­ment, and in­tro­duce new multi-fo­cused HIV and AIDS pro­grammes,” says Ms Okumu.

She fur­ther says dif­fer­ent ap­proaches to her or­gan­i­sa­tion’s pro­gram­ming would build on achieve­ments re­alised over the years.

In ed­u­ca­tion, World Vi­sion seeks to fo­cus on de­vel­op­ing ar­eas that would help im­prove qual­ity, in­clud­ing build­ing the ca­pac­ity of preschool teach­ers and sup­port­ing the for­ma­tion and em­pow­er­ment of pri­mary school par­ents and teach­ers com­mit­tees, Ms Oku- mu noted.

“We be­lieve if we can stim­u­late the de­vel­op­ment of citizens’ voice and ac­tion, and have par­ents and com­mu­ni­ties un­der­stand they have a ma­jor role to play in sup­port­ing the ed­u­ca­tion of their chil­dren, this can con­trib­ute to ad­dress­ing var­i­ous chal­lenges in schools as well as im­prov­ing the qual­ity of ed­u­ca­tion,” says Ms Okumu, adding World Vi­sion would also help source learn­ing ma­te­rial for schools.

“We are an or­gan­i­sa­tion mo­ti­vated by re­sults and al­ways strive to mul­ti­ply our achieve­ments to show that we are im­prov­ing.”

One area that has seen World Vi­sion Le­sotho take a dras­tic shift is in its HIV and AIDS pro­grammes.

Ms Okumu strongly be­lieves Le­sotho has done so much over the years to ar­rest the stub­born epi­demic but says the mo­men­tum was lost “some­where along the way” hence the need for re­newal.

“The fight has taken many years and some­where along the way, the mo­men­tum was lost.

“We need to re­build the mo­men­tum and an­a­lyse our fo­cus over the past years to see if we should maybe change di­rec­tion. We are aware there are some ar­eas we might not have paid much at­ten­tion to with re­gards to the fight.

“World Vi­sion does not have all the an­swers but we would like to lead a se­ries of well-fo­cused Hiv-pre­ven­tive dia­logues that will ex­am­ine the man­ner in which we have been fight­ing the pan­demic and col­lec­tively se­lect the tools to use to so­lid­ify pre­ven­tion,” Ms Okumu says.

Cul­tural prac­tices, en­force­ment of leg­is­la­tion that pro­motes re­spon­si­ble HIV- pre­ven­tive be­hav­iour, well-tar­geted Hiv-ed­u­ca­tion and mes­sag­ing and the in­clu­sion of high­pro­file per­son­al­i­ties to be­come the cen­tral voice in com­mu­ni­ties, among oth­ers, could strengthen the fight against the dis­ease, Ms Okumu adds.

“Over the years, we seem to have ne­glected some vul­ner­a­ble groups in our fight. We need to keep stu­dents in schools and pre­vent teenage preg­nan­cies, which means we should all work on im­prov­ing how we com­mu­ni­cate

We have launched our new strat­egy for 2016-2020 which seeks to sig­nif­i­cantly con­trib­ute to im­proved and sus­tained well­be­ing of the most vul­ner­a­ble 550,000 boys and girls this year, im­prove the re­silience of house­holds usu­ally af­fected by weather-shocks through en­vi­ron­men­tal man­age­ment ac­tiv­i­ties, sup­port the de­vel­op­ment of early child­hood care and de­vel­op­ment, and in­tro­duce new multi-fo­cused HIV and AIDS pro­grammes

var­i­ous is­sues, in­clud­ing en­cour­ag­ing self­value and ab­sti­nence.

We also know Hiv-preva­lence is very high in peo­ple aged be­tween 30 and 39 years, and stands at 40 per­cent.

This raises the red flag and is more con­cern­ing be­cause we know how this will af­fect the big­ger so­cio-eco­nomic sphere.”

Ac­cord­ing to Ms Okumu, World Vi­sion Le­sotho would work with the govern­ment and other part­ners in de­vel­op­ing and im­ple­ment­ing in­no­va­tions which could con­trib­ute to­wards ad­dress­ing the un­der­ly­ing fac­tors fu­el­ing new HIV in­fec­tions.

World Vi­sion Le­sotho was es­tab­lished in 1987. The or­gan­i­sa­tion de­pended en­tirely on child spon­sor­ship funds for its oper­a­tions un­til 2002 dur­ing a drought emer­gency, when it started to re­ceive grants from pri­vate donors to im­ple­ment re­lief and liveli­hood re­cov­ery.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion has im­proved the lives of thou­sands of poor fam­i­lies and con­tin­ues to strive for a poverty-free Le­sotho.

WORLD Vi­sion na­tional Di­rec­tor Ms Pauline Okumu at a re­cent tree-plant­ing ac­tiv­ity held in kolo­jane, Berea.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Lesotho

© PressReader. All rights reserved.