Skills & Soup

In partnership with Glasswaters Foundation – and in response to Covid-19, schools closing, and food insecurity – The Hub implemented outdoor educational programming and a feeding scheme for children aged 8 and above between June–December 2020. Held twice weekly, Skills & Soup provided nutritious meals for 50 participants, as well as take home food rations and seeds for participants’ vegetable gardens. In addition to receiving meals, the children took part in Covid-19 awareness sessions, Maths & Science classes, and dance lessons. We hope to continue with this programming in 2021!

“I have learned how to go through information so that I know what are myths and what is correct, especially online”

– Participant in Skills & Soup

“After attending Skills & Soup I started enjoying life, and the lessons improved my maths and writing. Ntate Thejane made me like schoolwork.”

– Participant in Skills & Soup

“I have learned many things about Covid-19, now I know how to wear a mask and not touch my face. I like the food and I’m happy we got seeds to plant in our gardens.”

– Participant in Skills & Soup

Elders’ Covid-19 Education

In partnership with the British High Commission, The Hub delivered Covid-19 educational sessions for adults and elders in Morija and Matsieng between September – December 2020.

The sessions were held at existing gatherings – for instance, at pensioner paydays and society and savings groups. Our trained peer educators held a total of 32 sessions, reaching over 1000 participants. The sessions covered a range of topics related to Covid-19 awareness – including mask wearing, handwashing and social distancing – and also provided participants with the opportunity to ask questions.

“I learned about the importance of mask use and taking care of it, proper way of washing hands and danger of crowded places.”

– Participant in Elders’ Covid-19 Educational Programme

Weekend Workshop: Creative Writing

From October 10-11, 2020 The Hub hosted Leila Hall for a Weekend Workshop on Creative Writing. She led participants on writing exercises examining the various effects of Covid-19 on society in Lesotho.

On Day 2 participants developed their stories and poems around the theme of Covid-19 and its multiple effects on society and individual lives. They had the chance to share their pieces and give each other feedback. Many of the participants’ pieces were published in WordPower 2020!

We were joined at our weekend workshop by Alain Amstutz and Tšepang Mohloanyane, both medical professionals working with SolidarMed and Ministry of Health in Butha Buthe and Mokhotlong districts. On Sunday they gave the participants a chance to have a Q&A about Covid-19 in Lesotho. They busted some myths, talked about the importance of testing, vaccines in development, and told us about treating Covid-19 patients, helping to drive home the message about the reality of Covid-19 in Lesotho.

Big thanks to Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa for their support of weekend workshops at The Hub!

WordPower 2020: Locked down with my abuser

By Vuyani Tshabalala-Monyake

Hello, my name is Moratehi. I wish! No, seriously, my name is Lithonako: a curse handed over to me by my mother, by my narrow-minded grandmother. I was born while my migrant father was away, so my mother had to bear the brunt of being fertile enough to conceive a child so quickly after her marriage.

“Rona bana ba Koeneng, mona ba hlaha kamora lilemo ngoetsi e nyetsoe,” my aunts would mutter under their breath whenever my mother passed. I carried this legacy right through my family courtyard into the village playground. I could write a book about the full wrath of this name. The pain of being teased and ridiculed. I thought it would end, but now it’s rearing its ugly head into my happily ever after!  

As I lay in bed, the crack of the ceiling is glaring down at me and the breeze from the cracked window is slowly moving the peeling paint on the ceiling. The cracks, on the backdrop of the yellow painted walls, are glaring at me. Piles of yesterday’s clean laundry, now blood-soaked, are strewn on the floor. My lotion is splattered across the floor. This is no castle! This is not the fairytale I signed up for! The snoring beast by my side is definitely not the guy I want to spend the rest of my life with. Every breath he takes spews out fumes from his whiskey. The stillness of the night is broken only by the snoring snare of my would-have-been Prince Charming. I cannot help but think how different my life would have been if I had been given a different name: a more flamboyant, charismatic name – like Moratehi!

Had I been named Moratehi, would Mokoena have had the courage to come charging at me like a raving bull? Would he have thought twice about shoving me against the hard brick wall and banging my head against it? His snarling voice as he howled out my name still rings in my ears. His pathetic snarling voice as he boldly declared: “You cannot even think of running to your sister’s, we are under lock down.” Tears trickle down my cheeks as I relive my nightmare. So distant, yet so fresh in my mind. How can he just sleep like that, knowing full well that he hit me to a pulp just moments ago? How is this even possible?

In the other room, I can hear the shuffles as the kids wake up. Soon they will be in here with their smiles beaming and their eyes wide open. Ready to plan our lock down adventure! How can I tell them that we can’t cook potjie as promised? All because my left side is sore? How will I tell them that I am incapable of gathering the energy to get out of bed? Not only that, how will I tell them that the whiskey-fumes-spewing monster called their father took the last coins saved up for our weekly supplies? It is amazing how he, the self-appointed President of ‘Covid has crippled the economy’, still expects to buy whiskey at lock down prices. Bathong, it costs like 500 Maloti a bottle! We all don’t know where the next meal is coming from!

Enough with the pity party. I must wipe my tears and hide my blood-soaked nightshirt! Let me dash into the shower: the eucalyptus smell from the bath salts shall soak up the negative energy within the room. One day, I shall have the courage to walk away from it all. I do not want them to see me like this. Like I already told this beast that is their father: “My children are going through a pandemic. The last thing they need is to go through the breakup of their family unit!”

I am Lithonako: a mother. I am broken on the inside, all while trying to be strong for my children through a global pandemic! I hope you can hear my cries. Save me. Save my children from this nightmare!

WordPower 2020: Covid-19

The arrival of Covid-19 shifted everything for us here in Lesotho – as it did in countries around the world! At The Hub in Morija, we closed all indoor operations in March 2020. We transitioned into online activism, creating open-source, multimedia Covid-19 educational content in Sesotho, all available as free downloads from our website. We also began to hold outdoor educational sessions for children and adults. We’re looking forward to getting back to our regular programming as soon as it’s safe to do so!

In the meantime, we hope you enjoy this special edition of our annual WordPower magazine, in which young writers from Lesotho have tackled the topic of Covid-19. The poems and short stories in this edition present multiple perspectives – that of a school teacher, a student, a taxi driver – and explore the many effects of Covid-19 on society and on individual lives. We’re also proud to feature the lyrics of ‘Nthoe Tjena’ – a song released by The Hub in 2020, featuring nine local artists expressing their opinions on Covid-19 in Lesotho, government corruption, youth unemployment, and access to education.

We would like to extend a special word of thanks to our core sponsor, the Open Society Initiative of Southern Africa (OSISA) for their support of this magazine.

If you would like more information on The Hub, we’d love to hear from you! Happy reading and thank you for your support!

Read and download WordPower 2020!