MALIBUSENG Children’s Home is in dire straits and struggling to feed 46 children accommodated at the institution.
Children are often forced to skip some meals and some of them have school fees arrears. Gas and electricity are also in short supply due to financial challenges.
The Maseru East-based centre is therefore appealing for financial assistance to enable it to continue looking after vulnerable children including orphans and others with disabilities. It cares for children as young as a year old up to the age of 19.
A visit to the institution this week by the Lesotho Times revealed a desperate situation wherein the helpers are preparing meals over a fire due to lack of electricity and gas. Some girls were seen dragging logs which would be cut into pieces to make a fire for cooking.
Caregiver, Aupa Ratšolo, said their plight was direr because even firewood was in short supply.
“So dire is our situation that on some days, the children eat only two meals a day to save food,” Mr Ratšolo said in an interview.
“Sometimes they eat breakfast and skip lunch, sometimes they skip supper or breakfast. Sometimes, the lunch is eaten at 3pm so that it also becomes the supper.
“It’s as if the children have become prisoners by eating their last meal that early in the day. The diet is repetitive, usually consisting of pap with beans due to lack of funds. A 25kg bag of maize meal only lasts a day. M6000 worth of groceries last for only a month,” Mr Ratšolo added.
He said running the centre had become “very frustrating” because the Ministry of Social Development often threatened to shut it down for failure to meet required standards.
“My wish is for the ministry to assist us to improve operations for the sake of the children. We have learners in high school and these owe a combined M18 500 in school fees.
“We are appealing to well-wishers to assist with food, clothes, school fees and other basic needs. We are also appealing to the government and companies to ensure that ours becomes a dignified home. This will help our children to stay in one place instead of being moved to other centres where they will be separated from each another.
“I grew up in an orphanage and I know how painful it can be to be taken away from an environment you are familiar with. I know politicians are out there giving help to people. I’m begging them to be merciful to us as well,” Mr Ratšolo said.
He thanked other orphanages for helping them out in some instances.
“Some orphanages call me with offers of maize meal to enable us to feed the children. Others have given us fish and we are truly grateful to them,” he said.