Visit from ICRC!

Friday last week we were lucky enough to have Ms. Thembekile Madondo, from the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) office in Pretoria, visiting the IGA site in Khanyane. She was in Leribe to attend a workshop together with Lesotho Government representatives, LRCS staff and volunteers. We’re thankful that she took the time out of her busy schedule to visit the site, and we know that the youth volunteers really appreciated the opportunity to present the activity they are so proud of.

Inspecting the project site with the youth volunteers during the morning shift

Inspecting the project site with the youth volunteers during the morning shift

Ida and Ms. Madondo

Ida and Ms. Madondo

World Red Cross Day celebration

Last weekend we celebrated World Red Cross Day in Khanyane. Where the celebration is helt rotates between the districts, and this year we were lucky enough that it were to be held in our district, Leribe. Youth and senior volunteers from all 10 districts, staff from LRCS and people from the local community were present for the big ceremony on Saturday. In addition the youths in Leribe arranged a talentshow on Friday. 

Youths from all 10 districts performed different acts - all from singing and dancing to theatre. Some local musicians and an entertainment club also contributed to the talentshow. In total around 150 people attended, and everyone seemed to be having a good time. The youths in Leribe raised funds for Red Cross Youth activities through an entry fee for the show and sale of snacks. Our contribution to the event was an opening speech on youths as agents for positive change and a quiz on the Red Cross with cool prizes all the way from Norway. We also took the opportunity to thank all the youth volunteers who have made our stay here in Lesotho a fantastic one.

The youth volunteers in Leribe planned the whole event themselves, gathering all youth volunteers in the district for several planning meetings. They divided themselves into task teams where someone was in charge of food and others of sound, security, program and welfare. All the task teams did a great job, and the night was a huge success. We’re especially impressed with the kitchen team who planned, prepared and cooked food for 200 people with a very limited budget and resources. 

The boys also helped out! 

The boys also helped out! 

Saturday morning all the youths attended a tree planting in the community before the official ceremony started. There was cultural performances from all districts, speeches and awards for volunteers showing outstanding commitment. The whole event was broadcasted on national TV (Lesotho TV), and even the youth IGA in Khanyane got attention. The youths also got to present the IGA for the National Executive Committee, with both the Secretary General and the President for LRCS present. The National Executive Committee was noticeably impressed with the work the youths have put down and how organized they all were.  

The weeks leading up to the event was very hectic for everyone involved, but it was all worth it in the end. The youths received well deserved praises for all their efforts, and the celebration exceeded all our expectations. All three active youth branches in Leribe are newly established, but after seeing how organised and dedicated they all worked towards this event, we’re confident that the youth group will continue to strive and grow. We look forward to check in in a year seeing that the number of volunteers have doubled and that the IGA is a massive success! 

Meet Phole Francis Nkone

Age: 35
Branch: Pitseng

How long have you been a Red Cross volunteer?
3 months

Why did you join the Red Cross? 
I’m an aerobics trainer and want to improve peoples health. I want to encourage people to join aerobics and focus more on their physical health, and thought that this could be a great activity for youths in our town. I started to recruit volunteers from the team and now we have a youth branch with 18 active volunteers. 

The Red Cross/Red Crescent has 7 principles, which one is the nearest to you?
Unity - I really like the fact that the Red Cross is a united organisation where people come together to discuss ideas and support each other. For instance this years theme for the World Red Cross Day “Everywhere for Everyone”, shows that the Red Cross is all over the world, for everyone. Within the Red Red Cross everyone is welcome, and we do not discriminate 

 

 

Meet Likeleli Prudence Moeketsi

Age: 21
Branch: Pitseng

How long have you been a Red Cross volunteer?
I’m very new - 1 month

Why did you join the Red Cross? 
Because I love volunteering, my community and the work that are executed by the Red Cross. The work I put down benefits others, and it is great that everything is based on volunteerism. I also love the experience volunteering brings, and that you get to meet with other youths and people from other places.

The Red Cross/Red Crescent has 7 principles, which one is the nearest to you?
Impartiality. It means that everyone is welcome to volunteer and benefit from the work we do - everyone feels at home with the Red Cross. I also like it because it’s similar to Neutrality. Everybody is treated equally and the organisation is not controlled by the government, political parties or a church.

 

 

 

IGA STARTUP

After months of preparations we finally were able to start our income generating activity (IGA) today. Throughout the process the youths have shown great initiativ and have taken responsibility for most of the planning/practicalities themselves. The youth volunteers have received several trainings on bookkeeping, poultry care and project management to ensure that the activity runs well. This morning the chickens arrived - 100 tiny, yellow furballs. In about 6 weeks the chickens will be ready and the youths will take them to the butcher. Starting an IGA is one of our biggest achievements here, since it’s an important part of sustaining other youth activities.  

We wouldn’t have been able to start this IGA without the help and guidance from a few of the senior Red Cross volunteers, the Chief of Khanyane - Malefetsane Molinoea and our fantastic youth volunteers, so a big thank you to all of them!

Meet Liteboho Steven Mashidi

Age: 27
Branch: Pitseng

How long have you been a Red Cross volunteer?
I just joined and have been a volunteer for 3 months.

Why did you join the Red Cross? 
I wanted to help people, especially in my community. As a Red Cross volunteer I can contribute doing community outreach and other activities benefiting the locals in my district.

The Red Cross/Red Crescent has 7 principles, which one is the nearest to you?
Humanity, because as a human it’s a good thing to help one another, supporting each other and lend a hand to those in need - something I feel that Lesotho Red Cross represents in a good way. 

What do you think about this years theme for WRCD “Everywhere for Everyone”?
It’s a good theme because everyone at some point needs a helping hand in despite of rase, gender or life situation. It is great that we get to focus on visibility and that the Red Cross is there for everyone. 

 

A new branch!

Recently there was established a youth branch in Pitseng. A small town about 40 minutes from Hlotse, camp town. They’ve quickly grown into a strong youth branch and have about 20 youth volunteers. To get them off to a good start we facilitated a leadership and project management training. We also had some fun team building exercises so everyone could get a little uncomfortable. All in all an awesome day! 

Let's talk about sex

Last Saturday we did a full day on sexual health.
We started at the Baylor Clinic, where the Teen club members were divided into gender groups. The boys talked about circumcision and we talked to the girls about what it means to become a woman - answering any question they might have. We also did a game with different myths related to sexual health and sexuality, where the girls got to choose wether they thought the myth to be true or false, sparking a lot of interesting discussions. Since a few of the girls are hearing impaired, one of our volunteers, Ts’olo, signed the whole session so that all the girls could partake. 

After we finished at the Baylor clinic we drove straight to a town called Peka, where Ts’olo spoke about male reproductive health at a BRO-camp (Brothers Respecting Others), organised by the U.S Peace Corps. This is an all boys camp where they focus on teaching young men healthy values related to sexuality, gender, leadership etc. They also organise similar camps for girls -GLOW (Girls Leading Our World). The reason why the camps are divided into gender, is to create a more open fora where everyone feels comfortable to speak freely. Therefor during Ts'olo's session on male reproductive health all the females left the room. Lesotho has quite set gender roles, and being that a large number of the population is religious, dividing camps like these into gender often gives better results. It had been a long day of presentations for the boys, so we rounded up the day with a practical exercise - condom demonstrations. 

Initiatives like these camps from organisations like the U.S Peace Corps, Red Cross and other NGO’s is extremely important, since a lot of the Catholic schools in countries like Lesotho don’t teach any or very limited sexual health. The age of consent in Lesotho is 18, but like most countries some of the youths have their sexual debut earlier. During the condom demonstration we did a Q&A and discovered that there is a lot if wrong information circling. For some of the boys this was also the first time anyone had shown them how to use a condom - like one of the boys that approached us after the demonstration. He was 17 and had been sexually active for two years. 

Ida & Astri 

Leadership and project management

One of the things we’ve been working towards while being here in Lesotho is starting an Income Generating Activity (IGA), so that the youths can generate income to sustain their activities. There is little to no funds available for youth activities so it’s important that the branches work with projects that can support their activities (community outreach, kids clubs, youth gatherings etc.), different trainings and events. The youths in Leribe have decided that they’d like to start a chicken project, selling chicken meat.

Monday and Tuesday, this week, we held a two day leadership/project management workshop for the youths in Khanyane, where we focused on project management and the different roles of a leader. One of the main goals for the workshop was to create a structure for the project team and to select project team leaders. The youths showed great initiative and ran parts of the workshop themselves - this really impressed us. Our initial hope for the project was that 5-6 youths wanted to be involved, but as it turned out all the youths in Khanyane are invested and wants to contribute. They chose 4 project team leaders and created a shift plan for the rest of the volunteers.

We are confident that the IGA will be a huge success in Khanyane, especially after seing their team spirit and ability to plan ahead. 

A day in Mafeteng

Last Friday we visited the district of Mafeteng to see what the youth volunteers there are doing and to catch up with former youth delegat to Norway, Pheko. The youths had planned a full day for us and we got meet many engaged youths and saw a lot of great activities. We were accompanied by the newly appointed youth officer, Thapelo Ramalefane, who is a former youth volunteer form Mafeteng. 

We started of with a visit to the youth branch in Kopanong where they told us about their activities and future plans. They’re a little over 40 youth volunteers in total, which is a very impressive number.

The youths of Kopanong showing us one of their newly started IGA's, growing peaches. Unfortunately due to the drought this project is severely delayed, and the trees might not survive winter.  

The youths of Kopanong showing us one of their newly started IGA's, growing peaches. Unfortunately due to the drought this project is severely delayed, and the trees might not survive winter.  

We also stopped by a tree nursery, a project run by Senior Red Cross volunteers. To make the project more sustainable they're working on getting youths involved.  

We also stopped by a tree nursery, a project run by Senior Red Cross volunteers. To make the project more sustainable they're working on getting youths involved.  

From there they took us to Tabana Morena where some of the youths where helping out on a weeklong Water and Sanitation (WatSan)  workshop, teaching representatives from the different communities how to maintain their local water stations. The project is partly funded by the Norwegian Red Cross. 

On the way back to Camp Town we visited the school branch at Makena High School. One of the main activities the youths there run is fundraising for fellow students that are in need of School uniforms, books etc. Seeing this from a Norwegian perspective, where such things often are taken for granted, it is truly impressive to see the compassion they feel for their fellow students and the results they achieve through minimal funding.  

Visiting the school branch at Makena High School

Visiting the school branch at Makena High School

After this Pheko took us to the community radio station, where we did a 30minutes segment on the YDEP programme, Red Cross Youth and our experiences in Lesotho. This were our first time on the radio but luckily we were accompanied by Thapelo and Pheko, who was a brilliant radio host. 

Being interviewed at the community radio station by the great Master P.

Being interviewed at the community radio station by the great Master P.

We rounded off the day with a youth meeting at the divisional office in Mafeteng, where we also got the see the Kids Club they run after school 3 times a week. 

In the meeting with the youths we discussed the upcoming celebration of The World Red Cross Day, which this year is celebrated in Leribe. Being last years hosts they had a lot of good ideas and useful information that we took with us. Thank you so much to the youths of Mafeteng for a great day - we learned a lot! Mafeteng has a large number of very active youth volunteers, and it was inspiring to see some of the results of their hard work. 

Kids having fun at the Kids Club run by the youths at Mafeteng Divisional Office

Kids having fun at the Kids Club run by the youths at Mafeteng Divisional Office

“Protect me and the lice of my blanket”

On the 11th of March the people of Lesotho celebrate Moshoeshoes day - a celebration of a brave king who saved his nation. 

The Boers came to settle around the Free State area because they were chased away from the Cape by the British colonists. They then invaded the bolk of the present-day Lesotho until King Moshoeshoe sought protection from the British in 1868, after a 3 year long feud.
He told the British “Protect me and the lice of my blanket”  - a deeper Sesotho-saying meaning, “protect me and all my people”. This saved Lesotho from the Boers and was the beginning of the Lesotho we know today. 

The day celebrates the wisdom, fight, bravery, pain and industrious life of King Moshoeshoe - the great king who unified his people and through wisdom, took a risky path to save his nation. It was originally celebrated on March 12th, the day king Moshoeshoe asked for British protection, but was later changed to March 11th, the day of his death. 

The youth volunteers in Leribe wanted to include us in their celebration - sharing some of their culture and traditions. So, Friday the 11th of March they all showed up in their cultural attires and brought a local dish each. We got to taste everything from Sorghum and Moroho to a fermented maize porridge. The food was most certainly interesting. As a Norwegian contribution we served waffles and brown cheese (brunost) - which they loved. They were so impressed with the brown cheese that we had to promise to teach them how to make it. So, if any of our grandmas/readers knows how to make good brown cheese - please send us a recipe. The youths also played some local music and showed us some impressive dance moves. In addition the taught us some fun games that we’ll bring with us back home. 

 - Ida & Astri

 

A typical Monday

Since we work mostly with youth volunteers all days are different, we have to adapt to their schedule. This an example for what a day can look like as a youth delegate.

06:00
Rise and shine (the neighbours rooster woke you up at 5, but this is when you get out of bed - for the past hour you’ve been watching Buffy the Vampire slayer on your laptop) 

06:30
After a nutritious breakfast consisting of toast and eggs it’s time for your bucket bath. If there’s water in the tap you’ll of course enjoy a shower.

07:00
You watch some more Buffy the Vampire Slayer

08:00
You arrive at the office (but african time considered you bring you’re laptop to work on your blog while waiting)

09:00
Together with your local contact person you make a plan for the upcoming week and do a recap of last weeks achievements

11:00
You go to the local hotel to use the complementary wifi you got with the Coke you bought. You send some emails, read some newspapers, and if you’re really lucky/patient you can upload the blogpost you wrote this morning. 

13:00
Lunch! You go home to cook another nutritious meal consisting of more egg and toast.

13:30
Time off, read a book, exercise, watch some more Buffy the Vampire Slayer. 

16:00
Meet up with the youth volunteers for swim class at the local hotel. 

18:00 
The food highlight of the day: DINNER!
You’re of course making chicken tacos from scratch, tortillas and everything.

19:30
…. another episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer while you add metadata to the photos from todays swim class. 

21:00
Brush your teeth, spray on some bug spray and crawl under your mosquito net to call it a night. It might seem like you’re getting a lot of sleep, but the neighbours rooster will make sure to wake you every hour on the hour from 01:00.

The role of a youth delegate

As a youth delegate you are in a unique position. You work mainly as a volunteer but you’re also partially employed. In practice you do the work of a volunteer, but you also have a few administrative tasks so it’s important to balance the two. This can be challenging at times because the volunteers might see you more as an employee than a volunteer and equal to them. A big part of our job is to help the youth volunteers in our district to strengthen the structure and framework of their activities to ensure sustainability. We also do informational work such as this blog, articles and being visible in different social medias,. 

Being a Red Cross Youth delegate is exciting, you get to know a new culture and get first hand experience in working/volunteering for a new national society. All national societies are facing different challenges depending on the humanitarian needs in the country. The tasks and activities you’ll be carrying out may differ from what you’ve worked on within the Red Cross earlier. Though there are different challenges and the national societies across the world work differently you’ll discover that they all have the same core values and are united through the 7 principles.

A month of first aid

February has been a first aid month here in Leribe. We started of with a first aid training for the new youth volunteers in Hlotse, and continued with a first aid day at the Baylor clinic for the Teen Club, conducted by three youth volunteers. This weekend we’re going to Hanjane branch to do a first aid training for the youth volunteers there.  

 

We’re proud of our volunteers that all passed their first aid exams, and are especially impressed with the ones that facilitated at the Baylor clinic, for a 100 teenagers. First aid is an important skill for everyone in Lesotho to have, since the emergency respons time can be up to several hours and the nearest hospital/clinic can be far away, especially in the more rural areas.

 

Vil DU bli Ungdomsdelegat?

This post is written in Norwegian. You can read about the application process for YDEP in English here.

Nå kan du søke YBTC (Youth Basic Training Course), første steg mot å bli ungdomsdelegat!
For å kunne søke Youth Delegate Exchange Programme (YDEP) må du fullføre YBTC, et 4 dagers intensivkurs. Der får du møte neste års delegater til Norge og muligens din fremtidige co-delegat.  

YBTC består av lange dager der du får dele dine kunnskaper og erfaringer fra Røde Kors-arbeid, lære om hvordan Røde Kors- og Røde Halvmåne-foreninger arbeider og samarbeider internasjonalt, ser på kulturforståelse, lærer om Internasjonal Humanitær Rett, konfliktløsning og informasjon- og kommunikasjonsarbeid. Kurset tar også for seg deltakende metoder, og utfordringer ved det å jobbe i utlandet. 

CV og søknad sendes på engelsk siden dette er arbeidsspråket som blir brukt i de fleste land. Disse vil også bli delt med nasjonalforeningen i ditt eventuelle vertsland. 

YBTC avholdes 07.-10 april 2016. 
Kost, losji og reiseutgifter dekkes.

Søknadsfrist: 1 mars 2016


Hva kreves av deg for å bli ungdomsdelegat: 

  • Du må være mellom 21 og 28 år 
  • Du må være medlem av Røde Kors 
  • Du må ha minimum et års erfaring som frivillig i Røde Kors/Røde Kors Ungdom
  • Du må ha god fysisk og psykisk helse 
  • Du må ha gode muntlige og skriftlige kunnskaper i engelsk 
  • Det kan være aktuelt med gode muntlige og skriftlige kunnskaper i spansk eller fransk hvis du vil utveksle med enkelte land. 
  • Du må gjennomføre kurset “Youth basic training course” (YBTC)

Les mer om
YBTC
YDEP 

 

- Ida & Astri 

Swimming

As people are getting ready for the winter season back home we’re experiencing a very dry, hot summer here in Lesotho. The excitement from both of us when we finally were able to start the swimming activity (we’ve been planning for months) were through the roof. All of Southern Africa is experiencing a drought so the access to water has been fairly limited for the last two months. As Lesotho is a landlocked country swimming is not a lifeskill that is taught in public schools, therefore most people here don’t know how to swim.

The manager at the local hotel, Leribe Mountain View Hotel, has been so kind as to let us use their pool facilities free of charge, and we’ll be conducting swimming lessons for local youths a couple of times a week. Our hope for the activity is that the youth volunteers we’re now training will become instructors so that the activity can continue after we return to Norway. So far this is looking very promising. We’ve only been at it for a week and the volunteers (who had never been in water before) are already starting to get the hang of it. We are both extremely proud of the progress the volunteers are showing, but most of all we are proud of how fearless they are - trying something completely new and ver unfamiliar. 

- Ida & Astri

Juleverksted

As an attempt to bring some of the Norwegian Christmas culture to Hlotse we arranged a Juleverksted for our volunteers. This is a tradition in Norway and can be described as a Christmas workshop where you make Christmas decorations and listen to Christmas music.

The celebration of Christmas in Lesotho is quite different from how we do it in Norway. The volunteers told us about how they gather with their family and friends, enjoy food and go to church. Christmas presents is not a widespread tradition but most of them receive a set of new clothes for Christmas day. Also it’s not that common to decorate your house, so making decorations was new for most of the volunteers. 

We made lanterns from old jars and cans, santas from toilet paper rolls, stars to put in the window and folded paper hearts. The volunteers also made some creative Christmas cards for their friends and families. We all had a good time, and we were promised Christmas cards to Norway next year!

The way Basotho celebrate Christmas can teach us a lot. They focus more on spending time with their loved ones rather than expensive presents and months of stressful preparations - which sometimes can be the case in Norway. 

Merry Christmas to you all!

- Ida & Astri