Photography by: Nthabiseng Seboka
Writing by: Linda Zhangazha
‘Mamokoena Mohola has worked as a teacher at the Lesotho National Council of Women (LNCW) Vocational School in Morija for the past 17 years. In that time, she has taught hundreds of young women the craft of sewing – a skill which has enabled her students to start their own businesses and earn a living for themselves.
Mohola started working at the Vocational School in 1999. At the time, she was unemployed and struggling to make ends meet. “Life was difficult,” she sighs. “I wasn’t working and I had to raise 6 children on my own. I lived from hand to mouth.” Having been inspired by elderly women who were making crafts for a living, she saw an opportunity to redeem herself from the poverty that she was in. As time passed, Mohola’s work as a teacher at the Vocational School helped her to transform her life.
“Working for LNCW has taught me a lot of things that I wouldn’t have otherwise known. I now know how to use my hands. I can now feed my children and pay their fees without difficulty. I don’t even need to buy clothes anymore: I just make them.”
The LNCW Vocational School teaches young women, including those without an educational background, to use their hands as a way to earn a living. The school focuses on teaching sewing and recently introduced cooking to their curriculum in February 2016. However, they are faced with a number of challenges, including limited resources and a lack of funding. Because of these challenges, the number of students who can be admitted to the school is limited.
However, despite all these challenges, the School continues to make a real difference in the lives of its students. “I am happy that I am able to help others with that which I am passionate about,” says Mohola. “I am happy when I share my knowledge, because most of my students are needy people and orphans, so this gives them a good life and future.”
Mohola does not only rejoice about her own success, she also takes pride in the success of her students. It gives her joy to see some of the people she taught succeeding in life. “There are no jobs in Lesotho,” she says. “Most youth get educated and then remain unemployed, and this often leads them to do bad and unacceptable things.” Mohola is patient and attentive to slow learners and when a student drops out in the midst of the course she persuades them to return. “I see a big difference because they don’t struggle after they complete the course. Some of my students are now enjoying success and that makes me happy.”
Her hopes for the future are to see the organisation grow and change more lives. “I am at peace because of the contribution I am making,” she says with a smile.