Hope in Koalabata

By Lineo Segoete

The word merry in “Merry Christmas” has been perverted to mean excessive lewd and riotous behaviour (never mind the toll it has on the wallet). Truth is regardless of our varied religious orientations what puts the merry in Christmas is the opportunity to be selfless and express love unconditionally. For Thato Child and Youth Care Centre, an orphanage based in Koalabata on the outskirts of Maseru, it is a time of beckoning.

Thato Child and Youth Care Centre was one of a group of orphanages to get merry at the Maseru Club grounds on December 12 as Standard Lesotho Bank invited them to receive gifts and supplies in the spirit of the season.

On behalf of the Centre, Mr Tšeliso Hlalele said they were prompted to open the centre in 2001 by the maxim “charity begins at home”. They started with 10 children of kin because they were touched by the conditions those children were living under after their parents died.

In 2005 the centre was registered, but the road ahead was bleak and peppered with conflict. What took off as a positive development with donors taking an interest in the centre’s work- building premises and developing infrastructure- deteriorated into five of the ten founding members falling off which escalated into a court dispute that chased away the funders.

In addition to struggling with getting enough food, clothing and tuition money to sustain the kids, the centre remains stagnated by the ensuing court case which also forced a change of location. Fortunately, Mr Retselisitso Moleka also a founding member contributed his land in Koalabata where they make do with very little. Their challenges nevertheless do not deter them from pushing on to source new funders and business partnerships so that they become self-sustainable and grow.

Currently Thato Child and Youth Care Centre is home to 220 kids ranging from 18 months old to 16 years old. The programs designed to engage them in and rehabilitate them as well as the love of their care-givers (who also function as role models) helps them recover from the adverse hardships they faces prior to becoming part if the centre.

Treated to jumping castles, music, trampolines, snacks and KFC, the kids had unrestricted fun, their contentment reminding to us to appreciate the priceless gift that is life. Although they had banners and other branding there, Standard Lesotho Bank had not made a big media fuss about the event, a good move considering corporates tend to turn Corporate Social Responsibility into marketing campaigns thereby losing sight of the importance of giving for the sake of giving not recognition and praise.

“Simply give others a bit of yourself; a thoughtful act, a helpful idea, a word of appreciation, a lift over a rough spot, a sense of understanding, a timely suggestion. You take something out of your mind, garnished in kindness out of your heart and put it into the other person’s mind and heart.” -Charles H Burr

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