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Lesotho volunteers: "Our future is in our hands"
30 January 2009

Leribe, Lesotho:

Lesotho Volunteer Forum and Lesotho Youth Volunteer Forum chose ‘Youth Empowerment’ as their theme for International Volunteer Day 2008 celebration at St Paul School for the Deaf, Leribe.

The slogan was ‘Bokamoso Ba Rona Bo Ka Matsohong A Rona - Our Future is in Our Hands’ This reflects how students and teachers at St Paul communicate through International Sign Language and also how much we rely on our young people to create the world in which we live, grow and thrive.

The volunteers created play spaces for students and teachers at St Paul School for the Deaf, in providing much needed equipment for the school and in celebrating the extraordinary contribution that volunteerism makes to our development as individuals, in our communities and in our country on this day.

Members of both Lesotho Volunteer Forum and Lesotho Youth Volunteer Forum come from all sectors of society in Lesotho, both national and international, which actively promote development through volunteerism. Members are drawn from UN agencies, national NGOs, international NGOs, government departments, education, business and civil society groups.

The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme in Lesotho is a member of Lesotho Volunteer Forum and Lesotho Youth Volunteer Forum, and supports both as Secretary. The 2008 celebrations were financed by UNV funds and UNV volunteers were central to delivery and planning of the event.

Founded in 1981, St Paul School for the Deaf has had a variety of sites, with the present facility established in 1994. It is one of only two such schools for hearing impaired students in Lesotho.

Education is to primary level only and the school is administered by an Advisory Committee (teachers, parents, church representatives, staff and the Community Chief in Leribe). The school has 80 students, ranging in age from five to 25 years of age. Seventy-six of the 80 students live at the School during term-time.

Funding for St Paul School for the Deaf comes from the Ministry of Education and Training, SOLON (a Swiss organization with offices in Durban, South Africa) and parents’ contributions. Sentebale provides support funding for pastoral visits and the World Food Programme (WFP) is actively engaged with the school through their School Feeding Programme. Crops are grown on the grounds to supplement this and the School also raises its own funds by catering for workshops.