Skills & Soup

By Moleboheng Rampou

In March 2020, The Hub closed its doors to members as a precautionary measure against Covid-19. Since then, we have been working from home to produce a digital multimedia Covid-19 awareness campaign.

This campaign is reaching a large audience through platforms such as social media and radio, but we knew that many children were not being reached. We also felt concerned about Lesotho’s growing food insecurity crisis.

Skills & Soup was conceptualised as a response to these concerns. We envisioned a bi-weekly program that would host young members of The Hub and the Morija Arts Centre for fun educational activities, lessons, and a nutritious meal.

We partnered with Glasswaters Foundation and the Morija Arts Centre, then started preparing for the first session. Preparations included purchasing masks, protective gear, and a non-contact thermometer. We also constructed Tippy-Taps to ensure that the children would wash their hands before entering the premises.

The sessions are led by Thembekile Mokhosi, a professional counsellor, with the assistance of The Hub volunteers.

The children are divided into 2 groups, with 25 members in each group. In line with regulations, our sessions are held outdoors in the Morija Museum Amphitheatre.

Each Tuesday and Friday, the children have a hearty nutritious meal prepared by Cafe Mojo, and then sit in the warm sun to take part in educational sessions, while adhering to strict physical distancing protocols. So far, we have covered topics such as Covid-19 and its symptoms, misinformation about the virus, hygiene, and nutrition.

To ensure the sessions are vibrant, interesting and interactive, we have added other activities such as dance, led by Koko and a taekwondo demonstration led by Selebalo Molefe. We have also been recently joined by a local primary school teacher Thejane Malakane, who covers Maths, English, and Science with the children.

We have seen a positive response from the participants, which is evident in visible behavioural change such as wearing masks even around the village and their homes. Some have even constructed Tippy-Taps at their homes.

The children receive a take-home food parcel after every session, and have also received packets of seeds to plant vegetable gardens at home.

With the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Lesotho rising rapidly, we hope the lessons learned at these sessions will help the children protect themselves and those around them from the virus – and also help them to keep a bit up-to-date with their schooling.

Digital Skills Workshop with OSISA

From February 18th – 20th 2020 The Hub hosted a Digital Skills Workshop in Morija in partnership with Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA). The workshop participants were OSISA grantees and partners from Angola, Botswana, DRC, Eswatini, Madagascar, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

We had a wonderful time hosting this workshop and meeting colleagues doing similar work in other countries. We were able to network, exchange and learn from one another. The Hub would like to thank OSISA for entrusting us with this project and for giving us the opportunity to host this workshop.

Over the course of the three-day workshop we hosted a range of facilitators to run the following six sessions:

Online Fundraising

Daniela Gusman, Founder and Executive Director of Relationships Inspiring Social Enterprise (rise), led a session on strategies that organisations can use to effectively fundraise online.  These include: having a website with social media integration, being donor-ready with a “donate page”, distributing a newsletter and email campaigns and having a clear social media strategy. Gusman also spoke of the importance of having a targeted reach for effective results, as well as learning from larger organisations.

Feedback from a participant: “[I learned about] the importance of having a strong online presence to enhance credibility.”

Podcasts and Audio Recording

Khami Malie – an educator, voice-over artist and public speaker – led a session on podcasting and its many uses. Malie addressed the common fears that people have before starting a podcast, spoke of the advantages of having a podcast, and what is needed before starting a podcast. Malie also encouraged participants to consider language, the number of hosts and the equipment that would be necessary to start a podcast.

Feedback from a participant: “I was not very familiar with podcasts so being introduced to the concept as a whole was very useful to me. Also, seeing that we come from different communities with different norms, it was nice to discuss ways in which we can air out our messaging in a manner that is appropriate to our culture but at the same time getting the message across.”

GIF Animation

Lehlohonolo Tlhaole, an animator and graphic designer, led a session on the importance of making a GIF animation for social media, as well as on how to use free software such as Krita. Participants in this workshop also got the chance to create their own GIFs!

Feedback from a participant: “It was a new experience for me. And I enjoyed every moment of it!”

Photography and Videography

Napo Thahane, a photographer and videographer, led a session that taught the basics of photography and videography. This included talking about the rule of thirds, composition and maintaining equipment. Thahane also led a practical session, in which participants practiced taking photos in their immediate surroundings, bearing in mind what they had been taught.

Feedback from a participant: “The photography and video session was my personal favourite, as it was practical and it didn’t just talk about photography from cameras, but also phone photography which is accessible and used daily for a majority of us.”

Graphic Design and Visual Communication

Anna Cai, an artist, designer and educator, led a session on graphic design and visual communication. Cai spoke about the importance of communication design as something that is aesthetically pleasing, but also as a tool to stimulate, relate and inspire. Cai encouraged participants to think about communication and simplicity, while focusing on the visual element of their messages in constructing a narrative. Cai also shared how to build a toolkit using online platforms such as informationisbeautiful.net and freepik.com

Feedback from participants: “The visual communication module was interesting because it allowed us to experience collecting information from our audiences and putting it into a form of communication that is interesting and eye catching.” / “The session was helpful and the strategies provided were helpful for a campaign, keeping my reports simple and campaign simple.”

Online Presence / Websites / Social Media / Branding

Nvulane Nhlapho, founder of Selibeng.com, led a session on the importance of building a digital marketing strategy. Nhlapho showed participants how to use websites such as wordpress.com and wordpress.org, including how these can be used to build e-commerce sites with plugins. Nhlapho encouraged participants to strategise about their pages and websites, to plan their posts and to think about their key messages for followers. In terms of audience engagement, Nhlapho advised participants to learn more about their intended audience, to post during peak times, and to strategise carefully with regards to paid content.

Feedback from participant: “It was a realisation that a lot of us haven’t utilised our social media platforms to the max.”

As a whole, the feedback we received from participants about the overall three-day workshop was very positive:

I learnt a lot with this session and wish to keep cooperation with the Hub.”

“Share your works with other organizations so they can share with more people across countries because what you’re doing is inspiring.”

“I left Lesotho refreshed and inspired, an excellent way to kickstart 2020!”

Weekend Workshop: Drama for Radio

From February 8-9, 2020 The Hub hosted award-winning theatre director Jessica Lejowa for a Weekend Workshop on Drama for Radio. Participants researched, wrote, and recorded scripts that tackle topics including mental health, human trafficking and the LGBTIQA+ community in the church.

“We need to ensure that the opinions, experiences and welfare of children become a central agenda in public policy. Children are citizens & the protection & advancement of their interests must become an urgent prerogative for all of us.”

– Jessica Lejowa

Thank you to Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa and Glasswaters Foundation for their support of this workshop!

Listen to the Radio Dramas:

Blood Donation Drive

On January 31st 2020, The Hub hosted a Blood Donation Drive, in partnership with Morija Museum & Archives, Morija Arts Centre and Lesotho Blood Transfusion Service (LBTS). We emptied our indoor space for the day, making laptops and tablets available outside for our young members!

“Many more people showed up than we expected!” said Moleboheng Rampou, a volunteer at The Hub. “We’re hoping to run Blood Drives like this at least twice a year, because the response has been great. The Hub works to bring people together in the community of Morija – with an event like this we’re spreading a message about the importance of caring for others. It’s not scary, it’s just a little prick. Donating blood can save lives – whether it’s for someone you know or someone you don’t know, it’s the right thing to do.”

Lineo Segoete, who had a recent health emergency, talked about the importance of donating blood and the work of the LBTS: “I needed blood transfusions recently, and there was no blood available in the blood bank. I had to ask family and friends to donate. We need to raise awareness about this situation, and the LBTS need better support. I’ve always known about the importance of blood drives, but I was passive about this issue before. My recent emergency has changed my mindset. I want to live healthier and be able to give blood often. It could happen to you or to someone you know, and being scared of needles is not a good enough excuse to not donate!”

Thapelo Sesoane of the LBTS explained that the beginning of the year is typically a time of crisis: “After the festive season our blood bank is empty and people in hospital have to get their relatives to donate. Blood drives like these can make a huge difference. I believe it’s the responsibility of everyone who’s in good health and above the age of 16 to donate at least twice a year. If everyone did this, we would not be facing this crisis – let’s all donate, it can save lives!”

The Lesotho Blood Transfusion Service are available to come and run a Blood Drive at organisations and in communities at no cost, and can be contacted on any of these numbers: +266 22 316 091 / +266 5860 9381 / +266 5886 3495  

Weekend Workshop: Corruption

From October 19-20, 2019 The Hub hosted Thato Toeba for a Weekend Workshop on Corruption – What it is, and how it affects us in Lesotho. Participants had many informative and thought-provoking discussions, looking at a number of elements that shape corruption in the context of Lesotho – including our free market economy, external institutions such as the World Bank and Lesotho’s dual legal system. Participants also looked at examples of corruption cases in newspaper articles, learning about principles of state policy and suggesting some possible solutions for fighting corruption in Lesotho.

Thank you to Open Society Initiative for Southern AfricaEuropean Union in Lesotho and Glasswaters Foundation for their support of this workshop!

Photos from the workshop: