HER dream was to serve Basotho youths by ensuring they had something to do no-matter their level of education.
It was this vision which eventually saw ‘Mamoshe Makumane opening Mosh School of Baking and Catering in 2003, changing the lives of many young Basotho in the process.
A teacher by profession, Ms Makumane now looks back with pride at her brainchild, and how the vocational college has developed from an initial enrolment of four students to its current intake of 30 learners.
The students undergo two and three month certificate courses in baking/flowering and icing/ catering respectively.
“I decided to retire early as a science teacher at Sefika High and establish a catering school,” Ms Makumane told the Lesotho Times this week.
“This was because I had noticed some of my former students were either turning to crime or becoming drunkards simply because they could not qualify for tertiary education or had not completed their high school education due to financial difficulties.
“This pained my heart because to me, they were just like my own children, hence my decision to open Mosh School of Baking and Catering in 2003.”
Mosh School of Baking and Catering’s humble beginnings only made Ms Makumane stronger and even more determined to help her community.
“Although I only had four learners when I opened the school those many years ago, I never gave up my dream of helping my people,” she said.
“I am happy to say most of the students who have passed through this institution have either opened their own catering companies in different districts of the country or are doing well in their respective employments.
“We are talking of over 800 students who have graduated from Mosh School of Baking and Catering over the past 11 years of its existence, and this is what gives me the strength to go on every day.”
As a way of giving back to the community, Ms Makumane said she had volunteered to offer baking and catering lessons to female prisoners, with the hope that they could start their own businesses upon their release, or simply seek employment in the hospitality sector.
“I volunteered my services at the female prison in Maseru, and I hear many good stories of how several of those I taught, have done pretty well upon their release,” added Ms Makumane.
“I also decided to teach correctional officers, so they could also pass on the skills to the prisoners and am told the programme is doing well.
“I did all this because I was awarded a scholarship to study catering in Wales, and this was my way of giving back to my community.”
Asked how she transformed from being a science teacher to a caterer, Ms Makumane said: “I have always loved my kitchen; I was selling food and fat-cakes to augment my salary while I was a teacher, and I knew that no one could go wrong with a catering business as one cannot live without food.”
Some of her former catering students, Ms Makumane added, have gone on to enrol with tertiary institutions in South Africa and now hold higher qualifications and are in a far better position to fend for their families.
“Our goal is to become a bridging school to local tertiary institutions so that our students, who have Cambridge Overseas School Certificates (COSC), will be able to further their studies.
“We have modelled our syllabus in a way that makes the students useful even if they don’t have capital to start their own businesses.
“We teach them that they can volunteer their services and that’s the best marketing strategy as people will be able to see their good work and hopefully, business will be flowing thereafter,” she said.
According to Ms Makumane, her school has also offered services at big functions such as King Letsie III’s birthday.
The Mosh School of Baking and Catering principal, Rebecca Moeketsi, on her part, said: “God always blesses us with students who are passionate about their studies.
“The students really love their training and even those who would have just come here because of circumstances beyond their control, end up loving their course.
“We admit students with different levels of education, as some only have Standard Seven certificates, while the majority have COSC qualifications.”
“We try as much as we can to help them be at the same level and ensure we teach the students in the language they best understand. That is our secret to success; ensuring we have students who really understand their subjects,” said Ms Moeketsi, who holds a Diploma in Hotel Management acquired in Germany.
Meanwhile, one of the students who graduated from Mosh School of Baking and Catering last Saturday, Pius Masupha, said he was confident of becoming a successful businessman “one day”.
“With a catering business, we will be able to feed Basotho while also fighting poverty by creating jobs for our people,” Mr Masupha said.