The number of orphans and vulnerable children continues to increase in Lesotho, with Hlokomela Bana among the few organisations striving to better the lives of this needy community.
Hlokomela Bana was formed by Queen Mother ‘Mamohato Bereng Seeiso in the 80s and after she passed away in 2003, her daughter-in-law, Queen ‘Masenate Mohato Seeiso, took over the organisation’s leadership.
Her Majesty, together with 14 other Basotho women, including two principal chieftainesses, have been working hard to ensure the late Queen Mother’s dream is realised.
According to Hlokomela Bana public relations officer ‘Mathato Sekoai, the organisation initially catered for disabled children, but has since added to its responsibilities.
“Queen ‘Mamohato was touched by the plight of disabled children as some of their parents were ashamed of them and would hide them inside their homes under no supervision at all. This is why she established Hlokomela Bana to ensure the children also received parental love.
“Although it was initially meant to help the disabled, the hand of Hlokomela Bana extended when it was realised in as much we have many organisations that help vulnerable and orphaned children, there are certain needs that they do not cater for.
“For instance, the organisations would be paying school-fees for the children and dressing them up, but forget basic needs such as sanitary pads, deodorants and bath-soap, and this is where we chip in.”
Hlokomela Bana currently reaches out to Maseru, Quthing and Leribe, working closely with principal chiefs’ offices to identify vulnerable children in these districts.
“We are currently serving three districts but it is our dream to cater for children in all the 10 districts of the country.
“This has been made possible by donations we receive from companies and local NGOs, as well as funds we raise through various activities,” Ms Sekoai said.
When Queen ‘Masenate celebrated her 39th birthday this year (Her Majesty was born on 2 June 1976), she and Hlokomela Bana members spent the day with homeless children in Maseru, showering them with gifts, but Ms Sekoai is not sure if this would be an annual occurrence.
“It is quite tricky when it comes to supporting street kids because you don’t know whether some are there because they have nowhere to go or are just being rebellious. So constantly donating goods to them will make others believe being on the street is the right thing to do and run away from their family homes,” she said.