Mohale Orphan Support Association
Supporting orphans in Lesotho, Africa
The word mosa means kindness in Sesotho, and is also an acronym for Mohale Orphan Support Association, which is a small sponsorship program I began while I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Lesotho from 2007-09. During my service with Peace Corps, I was assigned to a rural village called Ha Mohale, located in the mountains of central Lesotho, where I worked at an HIV/AIDS clinic and taught a life-skills class to Basotho teenagers at the local high school. It wasn’t long before I realized how severely the HIV/AIDS epidemic had impacted families in Lesotho, and with infection rates as high as 50%, all of Mohale High School’s students were somehow affected by HIV/AIDS, whether their parents or relatives were HIV positive, or had passed away leaving them orphaned, or the students themselves were infected. Through my experience helping the community to initiate various HIV-prevention projects, and working with at-risk youth, I began to understand that education was the greatest tool for preventing the spread of this disease and overcoming the cycle of poverty that ultimately drives the epidemic.
Education in Lesotho is not considered a right by any standard. While the fees for primary school (the equivalent of elementary and middle-school combined) were eliminated in the past decade, students are still required to pay for high school tuition, books, uniform, and many other costs, which explains why less than a quarter of the population is able to earn a diploma. Furthermore, thousands of Lesotho’s children have been orphaned due to HIV/AIDS, and are now heads-of-household caring for younger siblings. With the help of my mother, Dr. Bettina Laidley, and my Basotho colleagues at Mohale High School, I decided to create the M.O.S.A. scholarship fund, by which we could offer certain youth high school sponsorship. There are an endless number of children in Lesotho who lack the financial means to attend high school, however our limited resources allow us to only select the most dedicated students and demands that we maintain high expectations of them throughout their schooling. We have so far selected 15 children recommended by principals and teachers of rural primary schools in villages within the Mohale region, some as far as 6 hours walk from Mohale High School where even a 4x4 vehicle can not reach. These students were the highest achievers in their classes, with strong work-ethic and big dreams, and had overcome great adversities in their young lives, so we have named them the “Flying Eagles Scholars” with the hope that after this opportunity to be educated, they will spread their wings, find success and return to give the same hand up to others who were in their position.
We have overcome many obstacles in the process of getting the Flying Eagles project off the ground during the first year, but the program has been very successful and the kids have taken huge responsibility to ensure that they perform well in school. High School in Lesotho is a 5-year program, therefore we have committed ourselves to these kids until they have all completed their secondary education. Working with them has been a challenge and a joy, certainly without a dull moment as they all have such unique personalities and points of view to bring to the group.
Aid for Kids will be providing more information about these sponsorships.
|The Other Maine on Facebook
Send check or money order to:
Aid for Kids
18 Market Square
Houlton ME 04730
or Donate online using PayPal.
Visit our Donation page.
Vietnam Photo Journal
by Don Funk