Herd boys hail Sen­te­bale ini­tia­tives

Lesotho Times - - News - Mo­halenyane Phakela

MOKHOT­LONG — For most peo­ple, the abil­ity to read and write is some­thing to take for granted in light of the pro­lif­er­a­tion of schools in Le­sotho.

How­ever, for many herd boys in Mokhot­long dis­trict read­ing and writ­ing are not skills they at­tained in a con­ven­tional school but through an ed­u­ca­tion ini­tia­tive by char­ity or­gan­i­sa­tion Sen­te­bale.

Sen­te­bale is a char­ity founded by Prince Harry of Bri­tain and Le­sotho’s Prince Seeiso Bereng Seeiso in 2006 fol­low­ing Prince Harry’s gap year to Le­sotho in 2004.

Over the years, Sen­te­bale opened night schools for herd boys in the moun­tain­ous and re­mote dis­trict of Mokhot­long from which they were equipped with ba­sic read­ing and writ­ing skills.

Dur­ing Tues­day’s launch of Sen­te­bale’s Com­pre­hen­sive Health Pack­age at Mat­soaing Herd-boys School in Mokhot­long, some of the herd boys ex­pressed their ap­pre­ci­a­tion to the char­ity or­gan­i­sa­tion.

The herd boys, who were from the Mokhot­long vil­lages of Mat­soaing, Ha Mat­soe­jane, Ha Poopa, Maphola­neng, Mateanong and Thaba Limpe, sang the praises of Prince Seeiso Bereng Seeiso who was in at­ten­dance dur­ing the event.

Some of the herd boys paid trib­ute in the form of Lithoko – a tra­di­tional form of po­etry – while oth­ers sang Moko­rotlo songs prais­ing Sen­te­bale and its founders.

For his part, Prince Seeiso Bereng Seeiso wore a tra­di­tional blan­ket sim­i­lar to those worn by herd boys. The blan­ket was in­scribed with mes­sages from herd boys thank­ing him for teach­ing them how to read and write.

On be­half of the herd boys, 23-year-old Boikano Haba­sisi said Sen­te­bale had given them hope for the fu­ture through ed­u­ca­tion.

“Some of us are in this sit­u­a­tion of be­ing herd boys be­cause that is the only way we can sur­vive.

“We can­not go to school like any other young peo­ple,” he said.

“We never thought there would come a time when we could read and write. But with the help we are get­ting from Sen­te­bale, we learned that we can still have a bright fu­ture.

“I have been a stu­dent here for four years and I can now read and write Se­sotho very well. I also learned about eti­quette and fol­low­ing in­struc­tions.”

Mr Haba­sisi also in­di­cated that their other chal­lenge was the haz­ardous con­di­tions they en­coun­tered dur­ing win­ter.

“We spent most of the time at the Mete­bong an­i­mal posts which are very far from the res­i­den­tial ar­eas and in the moun­tains,” he said.

“So, when­ever there are heavy snow­falls, we get stuck in the moun­tains and are left stranded since we are of­ten sit­u­ated in places that are far apart.”

The he­li­copters that pa­trol the area, Mr Haba­sisi said, could not lo­cate the herd boys due to the snow dur­ing win­ter.

“It would be a great if we could be helped with cell phones so that we can make calls when in dis­tress,” he added.

For his part, Prince Seeiso Bereng Seeiso urged the Le­sotho De­fence Force, which res­cues peo­ple dur­ing heavy snow pe­ri­ods, to teach the herd boys sur­vival tac­tics.

“The cat­tle posts are a huge dis­tance from each other, so when they are cov­ered in snow it is dif­fi­cult to lo­cate them,” he said.

“As a re­sult, the herd boys can­not get help when they need it. So I urge the sol­diers to train th­ese kids in emer­gency sur­vival tac­tics and ways to make dis­tress sig­nals when in dan­ger.”

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