Home gives or­phans a fight­ing chance

Lesotho Times - - Feature - Pas­cali­nah Kabi

MAFETENG — With Ba­sotho tra­di­tions slowly fad­ing away like the rain­bow af­ter a heavy down­pour, the Tai­wanese-own­ers of a Mafeteng-based or­phan­age have warned against such deca­dence which they say even­tu­ally robs a na­tion of its iden­tity.

Es­tab­lished in 2008 in Ha Lu­misi, Amitofo Care Cen­tre (ACC) and takes care of or­phans, giv­ing them a shel­ter, ed­u­ca­tion and a fight­ing chance for a bet­ter fu­ture.

Ac­cord­ing to ACC man­ager Wu Yuan Yuan, the cen­tre was es­tab­lished to give the needy chil­dren not just a shel­ter but also an op­por­tu­nity to ex­pe­ri­ence dif­fer­ent cul­tures and qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion that could take them to Tai­wan should they do well in their stud­ies.

“Amitofo Care Cen­tre’s main pur­pose is to take care of or­phans, es­pe­cially dou­ble or­phans and give them a bet­ter shot at life. Like ev­ery or­phan­age, we sup­ply our chil­dren with ev­ery­thing, rang­ing from food to cloth­ing.

“How­ever, we go fur­ther to of­fer the chil­dren an ed­u­ca­tion, with par­tic­u­lar fo­cus on cul­ture,” Ms Juan said.

“Af­ter we re­al­ized that a bet­ter roof over their heads, good food and bet­ter cloth­ing were not enough, we de­cided to open our own school so that again, they may have a bet­ter fu­ture through qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion we have ded­i­cated our­selves to pro­vide.”

The cen­tre runs both pri­mary and high schools called Yuan Tong, which among other sub­jects, of­fer Man­darin Chi­nese lessons to the 229 learn­ers.

“Chi­nese is now used more of­ten glob­ally and soon enough, it will be an in­ter­na­tional lan­guage, just like English. Based on this un­fold­ing re­al­ity, we are teach­ing these chil­dren the lan­guage to give them a head­start and an ad­van­tage as they go into the world. Again, our stu­dents stand a chance to go to Tai­wan uni­ver­sity so they will have the ad­van­tage of speak­ing the lan­guage when they en­roll at the col­lege,” Ms Juan said.

“We run sim­i­lar cen­tres in Malawi, Swazi­land, Namibia, South Africa and Mozam­bique. We al­ready have chil­dren from coun­tries like Malawi study­ing in Tai­wan and fully spon­sored by our part­ners in Tai­wan.

“Like I said, all our chil­dren are guar­an­teed a place at the Tai­wan uni­ver­sity for as long as they have passed their ex­am­i­na­tions. That is why we are mak­ing sure they don’t have any bar­rier by the time they go to the col­lege.”

In ad­di­tion to study­ing Man­darin, Ms Yuan said the chil­dren are also be­ing taught Kung Fu, which is a Chi­nese mar­tial arts fight­ing style, as part of their cul­tural stud­ies.

“We be­lieve ev­ery cul­ture in the world is good and has its own ad­van­tages. That’s why we are in­tro­duc­ing these chil­dren to our own Chi­nese cul­ture in the form of Kung Fu, which can make them stronger and health­ier, in ad­di­tion to be­ing knowl­edge­able about our tra­di­tions.

“As in­di­cated by the name Amitofo, we came here with good in­ten­tions and are grate­ful to the peo­ple of Le­sotho for ac­cept­ing us. We want to help Ba­sotho by giv­ing these chil­dren a shot at a bet­ter life through this cen­tre,” Ms Yuan said.

At the mo­ment, Ms Yuan said ACC only caters for its or­phans but space and funds per­mit­ting, it in­tends to ac­com­mo­date chil­dren from the rest of sur­round­ing ar­eas.

Asked how the cen­tre gets the chil­dren, Ms Yuan said: “When chil­dren aged be­tween four and seven years have been iden­ti­fied as po­ten­tial can­di­dates for the cen­tre, we closely work with the po­lice, District Ad­min­is­tra­tor, Min­istry of So­cial De­vel­op­ment and chiefs to en­sure the said kids are in­deed or­phans.

“We fur­ther do home vis­its, in­ter­view rel­a­tives and en­sure such rel­a­tives in­deed don’t have the means to raise the chil­dren in ques­tion.

“Af­ter sat­is­fy­ing our­selves that the chil­dren in­deed de­serve a place at the ACC, then the rel­e­vant pro­ce­dures will be fol­lowed to pre­pare for such a child to be un­der our wing.”

How­ever, Ms Yuan says the cen­tre has been bat­tling lack of wa­ter over the years, which she says has made life dif­fi­cult for the chil­dren.

“One of the chal­lenges we have faced over the years has been lack of wa­ter. The cen­tre needs ap­prox­i­mately 10 000 litres of wa­ter ev­ery sin­gle day and we are now buy­ing the pre­cious liq­uid from Mafeteng town.

“Un­til re­cently, we owned two trucks and each of the ve­hi­cles car­ried a 4 000-liter tank. We used the two trucks to buy wa­ter from town (Mafeteng) ev­ery sin­gle day but now that the other truck has bro­ken down, we are re­ly­ing on 4000 litres of wa­ter per day.

“This is neg­a­tively af­fect­ing us and putting the chil­dren’s health at risk. At the cen­tre, we use in­door toi­lets but due to lack of wa­ter, chil­dren are be­ing forced to leave the toi­lets un­flushed, pre­sent­ing us with a health chal­lenge,” Ms Yuan said.

“We are lucky that so far, there has been no dis­ease out­break be­cause of this short­age of wa­ter.”

Ms Yuan added she was happy that the gov­ern­ment had de­cided to drill a bore­hole at the cen­tre. The Min­is­ter of Wa­ter Af­fairs Ralechate ‘Mokose and his Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy coun­ter­part, Khotso Let­satsi, were at the cen­tre on Wed­nes­day last week to launch the bore­hole-drilling project. Mr Let­satsi is the Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment for the area.

“We are go­ing to save a lot of money which we will use to cater for our chil­dren’s other needs. We spend around M700 ev­ery day on buy­ing and trans­port­ing wa­ter from town to this cen­tre,” Ms Yuan said.

On his part, Mr Let­satsi hailed Amitofo for ex­tend­ing a help­ing.

“They are our own chil­dren we are fail­ing to take care of and yet these peo­ple have made it their busi­ness to give the young­sters a bet­ter life,” Mr Let­satsi said.

“We need to sup­port these peo­ple in ev­ery way pos­si­ble as they are not only tak­ing care of the chil­dren but also cre­at­ing jobs for the com­mu­nity.

“Lack of wa­ter has been a ma­jor prob­lem for this cen­tre and I am happy that the is­sue is now be­ing ad­dressed.

“With this prob­lem solved, I think the chil­dren’s chances of be­com­ing engi­neers, ath­letes and min­is­ters have been in­creased. We need to pro­tect this cen­tre as com­mu­ni­ties around it to en­sure noth­ing bad hap­pens to these chil­dren.”

Tšana-ta­lana Coun­cil chair­per­son, Fusi Se­futhi, also told the Le­sotho Times that the cen­tre was giv­ing the chil­dren hope for a bet­ter fu­ture. The cen­tre falls un­der TšanaTalana Coun­cil.

“I can as­sure you that these chil­dren are not only well taken care of but have the world at their dis­posal,” Mr Se­futhi said.

“In ad­di­tion to a bet­ter life these peo­ple are giv­ing them, they are also learn­ing Chi­nese which I strongly be­lieve will come in handy in their fu­ture.

“The Chi­nese are ev­ery­where in the world and China might be the lead­ing coun­try in terms of its econ­omy. With the Man­darin these chil­dren are learn­ing, they will be able to com­mu­ni­cate with the Chi­nese any­where in the world and can also be­come in­ter­preters lo­cally and in­ter­na­tion­ally.”

Mr Se­futhi fur­ther said com­mu­ni­ties around the cen­tre also felt “some sense of own­er­ship” of the fa­cil­ity hence his con­fi­dence it would be pro­tected from van­dal­ism.

“For in­stance, dur­ing the con­struc­tion of the cen­tre, com­mu­nity mem­bers agreed that these peo­ple needed to have free ac­cess to our nat­u­ral re­sources like sand and quarry. We felt this was our way of say­ing thank you to them,” he said.

Amitofo chil­dren per­form Kung fu dur­ing Prince Seeiso Bereng Seeiso’s 50 year birthday party last month.

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