Peace Corps in Lesotho: It Takes a Village
posted by Jessica
on Mar 27, 2014
This is a guest post by Kim Arent, Peace Corps Volunteer who is currently serving in Lesotho, South Africa. NIFTIT first heard about Kim’s latest project with Peace Corps, building a youth resource center in Motete Village, in late November 2013. Since then, NIFTIT decided to contribute to her endeavor in changing the lives of people in Motete by donating books and school supplies. Read her story below.
Motete Village is set in the rural mountains of Lesotho, approximately 3 hours from modern amenities such as electricity, running water, and cell phone network. Due to its rural location, and poor road quality, it has remained an isolated area in Lesotho, with minimal development over the last several years. For example, latrines were just introduced to this village in 2011. Motete has two major schools, a primary and secondary school, and they are responsible for providing education for the children of over 12 surrounding villages in the area. I, specifically, work with the secondary school that was built in 1993 by the Lesotho Evangelical Church, and remains a Christian dominated school, and receives no funding from the government.
I was approached by the school faculty and community about creating a youth resource center in Motete. This would target not only students, but also the multitude of community youth unable to attend school due to financial struggles.
We hope to utilize this center to target three major groups: students, teachers, and community members. For each audience we have elected community member representatives, who are advocating for their needs/desires through our library committee. The committee is comprised of students, teachers, and interested community members, young and old. The committee is meeting bi-weekly to help with the design of the building and fundraising within our village. Through the meetings with the committee we have determined the size and design of the structure, as well as its use within the village.
The overall goal is to use the center for: student extra-curricular activities, study, community workshops, leadership groups, teaching resources, and small committee gatherings. The building will be placed on the school campus, but be accessible for all community members because of its central location. We have applied through the African Library Project for books, and my family is donating a projector to the school that will be available in the center. We hope to eventually have solar electricity in the building so that people can watch educational films, show slide shows, and maybe eventually have computers. This project has so much room for improvement and expansion, and the villagers are so keen on the idea, it’s truly overwhelming.
I am currently applying for a grant through Peace Corps to try to purchase building supplies, but it seems it may fall through. The total estimated cost for the building is M 40,000 or US $4,000. We already have raised approximately US $250 and are starting to dig out the foundation for the building, in the essence of time (I leave in less than 10 months!). We are going to slowly start construction using volunteer labor, while we wait for funds. We plan on pulling as much community resources as possible together for this project including: volunteer labor, stones from the river, sand from local quarries, and voluntary transportation from local community members for supplies.
It would be amazing if your organization could help us along with this process. After living here a year, I truly feel this is going to be something that will make an exponential difference in the lives of these people.