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Two fold show dazzles in Leribe

Mohalenyane Phakela

THE two-fold Face of Lesotho pageant and Jhpiego hiking expedition, which took place in Tsikoane, Leribe last Friday lived-up to its billing despite the showers of rain experienced in the area.

The event served two purposes through the promotion of domestic tourism and afforded Jhpiego an opportunity to promote the use of Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) pills by partnering with the beauty queens who will be working as ambassadors.

PrEP treatment is given to people who are exposed to a high risk of getting infected with HIV.

The hiking event was attended by the area chief, area councillors, police and 12 Face of Lesotho finalists, as well as the public. Participants scaled the Tsikoane plateau, which is estimated to have an elevation of 1,881 metres above sea level. It remains one of the untapped tourist attractions, which also feature several interesting features, including caves as well as paintings by the San people.

The climb was quite a challenge for the hikers, especially the Face of Lesotho finalists who fell and had to be assisted in climbing-up. On the other hand, the rain added more to the challenge, as it also caused the area to be slippery.  It took the participants over two hours to complete the challenge, which was followed by the Likahare soup to warm the participants up. In addition to the warm soup, music also helped in efforts to warm-up the participants.

The finalists were gearing up for the crowning ceremony, which will be held at the Leribe English Medium school today (Sunday). The hiking activity was part of their boot-camp, which has been running for the past week.

Speaking to Xpress People on the side lines of the event, hiking instructor Katleho Lenkoe explained that hiking was essential not only for physical fitness but can also work as mental therapy.

“Hiking is good in that it enables one to test his or her physical fitness while providing some heart and mental benefits. Our participants had to face a challenging terrain and the beauty of the exercise is how they were able to assist each other during the climb, which is essential for team-building. Team work is important especially for the Face of Lesotho participants,” Mr Lenkoe said.

He further explained that in efforts to promote domestic tourism, organising activities such as hiking can help to encourage Basotho to participate, and in the process, get to know their country and act as tourism ambassadors.

Jhpiego’s communications officer, Thato Diaho, said they became part of the expedition after launching a drive to promote the use of PrEP pills. “The beauty queens are role models in their communities and we expect partnership with them to help us in disseminating information.

“As Jhpiego, we promote different ways of combating the risk of new HIV infections and we are working on this PrEP project with the Ministry of Health as of October last year, implementing it in the three districts of Maseru, Berea and Leribe,” she told Xpress People.

She said PrEP is used to control HIV but unlike ARVs, the pills are for HIV negative people at high risk of getting infected.

“The most vulnerable groups in the country include same sex partners, sex workers, young girls and discordant couples. Therefore, we are partnering with the Face of Lesotho finalists because they young role models and part of their duty is to promote good health practices. We plan to train them to build their capacity to work as ambassadors who will spread positive messages about HIV and AIDS prevention,” Ms Diaho said.

For his part, one of the area councillors, Makhajane Sekonyela, thanked the visitors for introducing PrEP to the community and requested regular visits to be conducted to further strengthen knowledge on HIV prevention.

“Accessing all the information we need to understand HIV and AIDS is difficult because we live far from the city. We therefore appeal for more awareness building visits to help us fight HIV. We also need support in how to talk to our children about safe sex, which is an area most parents and families are struggling with,” Mr Sekonyela said.

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