SENTEBALE remains committed to enhancing the lives of Lesotho’s vulnerable children, according to the charity’s Relations Manager, Malineo Motsepe.
Founded in 2006 by Prince Henry of Wales and Prince Seeiso Bereng Seeiso to assist the country’s needy children, Sentebale continues to get these victims of extreme poverty and HIV/AIDS the support they need to lead healthy and productive lives.
Speaking during the installation of a soccer pitch at St Bernadette Resource Centre for the Blind in Maseru on Monday this week, Ms Motsepe said Sentebale also sought to ensure children living with disabilities were included in “ordinary educational facilities”.
According to Ms Motsepe, Monday’s event was made possible through Sentebale’s partnership with the United Kingdom Royal Navy Polo Team (UKRNPT), whose blindfolded members played a football match against some of the children soon after the pitch was installed.
Ms Motsepe said Sentebale’s efforts were in line with government’s efforts to incorporate every child regardless of his or her state.
“Sentebale continues to work with institutions such as St Bernadette to ensure children, especially the most vulnerable, are accommodated in mainstream education by assisting with recreational facilities such as this soccer pitch.
“We do our best to offer technical and financial support to institutions to promote capacity-building and good governance and leadership, childcare skills, psychological support, as well as environmental sanitation, among other efforts,” Ms Motsepe said.
A UKRNPT Representative, Mike Bowen, who led a five-man team in assembling the soccer pitch within one hour, said the initiative was a great investment into the lives of needy children.
“We are moved and humbled by the smiles on the angelic faces of these children who are coping with what adversity has thrown their way.
“We have had support from the UK (blind) football team which participated in the recent Paralympics. We needed advice on the best and safest football pitch we could get for children with visual-impairment, and this is the result of that consultation. We also brought footballs with jingles inside them to guide those who can’t see the ball during a match because the children’s hearing is perfect,” he said.
In her vote-of-thanks, the Centre’s principal, Mary Patisi, expressed gratitude for various stakeholders’ efforts to make the lives of the children better.
However, Ms Patisi said the institution was facing serious challenges, among them a shortage of staff and teaching aids.
“At the moment, we care for 75 children who have been medically certified as visually-impaired. Most of the children are orphans and others are from vulnerable homes and because of the shortage of resources, we cannot give all of them a good education.
“For instance, we cannot put the children into different classes according to their special needs due to lack of resources. There are some who cannot hear properly and others need large-print teaching aids, but because we don’t have enough resources, we cannot separate them so that they get the best education possible.”
In separate interviews with the Lesotho Times, the children said they were happy with the new pitch, with some adding they hoped to become great footballers.
Meanwhile, also in attendance at Monday’s event were Sentebale UK Corporate Partnerships Manager Olivia Edwards and Sentebale Lesotho Country Director Tumisang Leduma, who both expressed hope that the soccer pitch would give the children more opportunities to explore their talents.
Since its establishment nine years ago, Sentebale has been working with a number of institutions, among them St Angela (Maseru), Morapeli (Mafeteng), Kananelo (Berea), Mokhotlong Safe Home for Severely Malnourished Babies (Mokhotlong), Phelisnong Centre for Disabled Children (Leribe), Reitumetse Centre for Orphaned Girls, Semonkong Children’s Centre and Mantsase Children’s Centre (Mohale’s Hoek).