By Sma Phethoka
The 2020 COVID 19 pandemic hit hard on the already vulnerable groups of the society like the orphanages, under 5s children, the aged, the homeless, the poor and other groups.
As if it was not already difficult to make ends meet, the restrictions imposed to combat COVID 19 saw the rise in prices of almost everything, especially food items, paraffin, petrol and other essentials making it difficult for the vulnerable groups to survive.
In an initiative to respond to the COVID 19 pandemic aftereffects, the Lesotho Red Cross Society (LRCS)through funding obtained from the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints launched the donation to 11 orphanages housing approximately 420 children in dire need of assistance at the Beautiful Gate Orphanage in Maseru Lesotho on March 12 this year, says the LRCS Disaster Management Officer Mr Maine Makula.
He informed the media present at the launch that the eleven orphanages were identified by the Society’s Divisional offices with the assistance from the local structures. The orphanages are from Botha Buthe – 11 children, Berea 126, Leribe 39, Maseru 143, Mohale’sHoek 80 and Qacha’s Nek 37. The total of 436 children aged between 0 to 5 years old consist of 206 girls and 230 boys, Makula added.
In his welcome address, the Beautiful Gate Centre, the Public Relations Officer Mr Lehlohonolo Moletsane said; “The donations from the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saint came at the right time when the Centre is experiencing challenges caused by the COVID 19 pandemic resulting in movement restrictions
“We have received the following items; 20 paraffin heaters, 33 Matrasses, 35 blankets, split peas 10Kg×10, beans 10Kg×10, sugar, tinned fish 4 cases× 24, sorghum 10kg×10, cooking oil 2L×24 which all sum up to M279 80.00
Beautiful Gage Centre houses at least 74 orphans both boys and girls under the age of Five. A couple of weeks ago we received a six-hour old baby in our care. One can imagine how expensive the infant’s formula costs and diapers”. Mr. Lehlohonolo Moletsane, the Public Relations Officer at the Beautiful Gate Centre indicated.
He added that the number of children fluctuates often because it depends on the number of calls they receive from the Social worker.
Moletsane indicated that Beautiful Gate survives through funds from donors from overseas and locally. He made a plea to churches, organizations as well as individuals to continue assisting in whichever way possible to the growth and well-being of the children.
He stated that the main donor of the Centre are individuals from the United States of America with clothes, food stuff and toys. He said since COVID19 pandemic hit the world no support is coming in and the Centre is suffering.
“The movement restrictions between countries caused problems because we used to receive international volunteers bringing clothes for children, but not anymore”, he added.
Moletsane further explained that the Centre takes care of children from ages 0-5 years. He added that these children were neglected while some were taken because their parents could not take care of them because of mental and health issues.
On behalf of the Society’s Management, Mr. Sechaba Mokhameleli, Programs Director said a lot of humanitarian work was done during the COVID 19 pandemic lockdown from March last year. He said the Society has been in the front-line in responding to the needs of the people.
“We work very hard to get financial support both locally and international but I must sadly indicate that support from the Government of Lesotho there has been very minimal support during this pandemic and yet we were posted throughout the country playing our auxiliary role. We are assisting and supporting the government in so many different ways and the Society too needs the government to support it so that more humanitarian work and more vulnerable people can be assisted.” Mokhameleli said
He expressed the gratitude of the Society to the Church for always coming through to help Basotho in times of need.
The church is based in Lesotho and South Africa.
The Society ‘s Disaster Management Officer Maine Makula indicated the Beautiful Gate Centre came to the Red Cross appealing for assistance. “it was at that time that the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints came to the Society donating items to the tune of M527,000.00 to assist as many orphanages as their needs required.
The donations were received on time in 2020 but due to the COVID19 restrictions we were not able to distribute the items”, Makula added.
On behalf of Beautiful Gate, Mr. Tyler Robert the International Relations Officer and Volunteer Coordinator said it was an honor to see that the community in Lesotho is assisting them in taking care of the children. “We thank the Church and the Red Cross remembering the Centre especially now that it will be celebrating its 20th anniversary since it was established in Lesotho.