STANDARD Lesotho Bank (SLB) yesterday handed over a M1, 1 million worth building to the Intellectual Disability Association of Lesotho (IDAL), a non-profit organisation which provides care and other services to people living with autism in Maqhaka, Berea.
The new building has been under construction since 2019. It was funded, among others, by Standard Lesotho Bank. The project started after the annual Standard Lesotho Bank Corporate Golf Day where the bank conducted a ruffle draw to support the charitable cause.
SLB’s acting head of marketing and communications Manyathela Kheleli told guests at the event yesterday that the bank requested support from businesses and business people towards the construction of the building.
“Our commitment as a bank was to match every donation that we got from the donors,” Mr Kheleli said.
“It was indeed a tall order because at the time, the bank had committed to build a rehabilitation centre for children with autism.
“The project required over M1 million which we only managed to raise after two successive events.”
The call for support eventually received overwhelming support and the bank raised M413 400 in 2018 and 2019.
“Based on the promise that we made, the bank then matched this contribution to come up with a total of M826 800 to start the project that we are officially handing over today.”
The bank also ended up paying the shortfall of M342 205 to make a total construction cost of M1 142 205.
“This initiative speaks to one of our strategic pillars in our corporate social investment (CSI) which is health and welfare. It addresses our desire to nurture children with special needs, as well as future leaders even in difficult circumstances.”
He said it was the bank’s hope that the investment will be a worthy contribution for IDAL, the Social Development Ministry and the country as a whole.
For her part, IDAL representative Nyolohelo Pekeche thanked all the donors for bringing the dream to reality.
She said the building will go a long way in equipping people with knowledge about their organisation and what they do.
Ms Pekeche also invited different government departments and ministries to partner her association to help IDAL to fully achieve its mandate.
“We want to partner with the Health Ministry to help pregnant women understand intellectual disability and autism so that parents realise in time if their children are autistic or not,” she said.
Once fully functional, the centre will have space for a diagnostic room, sensory room and consultation room. Ms Pekeche therefore, health service providers to frequent the centre to provide health services to autistic children to avoid the need to visit hospitals.
Among others, IDAL is planning to establish a call centre to assist abused autistic children as abuse was rampant. The association also wants to partner with the Education and Training ministry so that it can train teachers who can teach autistic children at a tender age.
“We want this centre to be a relief centre where parents can leave their children for a day if or when they want to take a break,” she said adding that they also intend to use the centre for social events to enable the organisation to earn revenue.
Lesotho National Federation of Organisations of the Disabled (LNFOD) executive director, Nkhasi Sefuthi conveyed his gratitude to the private sector particularly SLB for leading other agencies in supporting IDAL towards reaching the milestone.
“We thank all partners who took part in making this a reality either technically or financially and we call upon the government to consider the efforts put in place by IDAL and other partners to come up with this centre,” Advocate Sefuthi said.
He called on more financial and technical support to help it achieve its goals.
Apart from SLB, other sponsors who contributed towards the building of the centre are Alliance Insurance, Glassworld, Insucare, Lesotho Flour Mills, Letšeng Diamonds Company, Maseru Toyota, Minet, Metropolitan Lesotho, Maletsunyane Braai Festival, Sekhametsi Investment Consortium, Specialized Insurance Brokers, SBV and Vodacom Lesotho.