COVID-19: Sepheo responds to coronavirus threat



MASERU – The March declaration by government of a national state of emergency, and subsequent lockdown, in light of the ravaging global COVID-19 pandemic outbreak local NGO, Sepheo, mounted a community response to ensure the safety of residents of Motimposo in Maseru. Dwellers in the Motimposo area can now access free hand-washing stations during the lockdown, which Sepheo has installed to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the village.

Soap was also distributed to 5 000 households after the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) and the Ministry of Health advised that frequent hand washing was one of the most effective ways to stay healthy. Sepheo is a charity that works with children living and working on the streets in the capital city, Maseru; its vision is hinged on excellence out of poverty to ensure that Lesotho’s poorest become the country’s best.

The name Sepheo is derived from the indigenous word meaning purpose, with the organization focused on seeing every child off the streets and living out their purpose – not about treating only the surface issues of poverty, but helping boys and their families where they exist to lift themselves out of poverty. Over the weekend of March 28 and 29 Sepheo distributed soap to 5 000 households in the Motimposo community. The soap was accompanied by a card that described practical ways that families could stay safe from infection.

“We love Motimposo,” said Community Projects Leader, Motheba Makhalema, who added that “we saw that people were getting inaccurate information and that they were scared, we wanted to ensure that even poor households could maintain the additional hand washing requirements needed to kill the coronavirus.” “We have followed the World Health Organisation’s guidance and are just so happy that something as small as soap can keep people safe.”

In addition to soap distribution, Sepheo has placed hand washing stations throughout the village near supermarkets and areas of high foot traffic. Each station is a mobile unit with integrated water cans and taps. It includes liquid soap and basins to catch the waste water. This, they indicated, will ensure that even while people go out to work or to get groceries, they can wash their hands.

Makhalema said, “If you are leaving your house to buy groceries or if you pass one of these hand wash stations, wash your hands. You will keep yourself and the whole community safe. We want to keep coronavirus out of Motimposo.” A resident of Tšenola to whom this paper spoke at a local supermarket where a hand was station has been installed expressed utmost satisfaction at the gesture by the NGO, indicating not enough information has filtered through to them at the grassroots about measures to avoid COVID-19 infection.

“Yes, I have heard over the radio at a neighbour’s house that we are expected to regularly wash our hands in order not to get infected, we are not supposed to touch our faces with unwashed hands and that we should stop rubbing our eyes and picking our noses…but how do we manage that when we are always on road trying to make a living, where should we regularly wash our hands,” she asked. She continued, “I have also heard that there were some women here in the village distributing soap for us to wash our hands, I hope they have passed by my house…my children are still there. That will be better because when I have to wash hands regularly, with soap, I was already worried how long my only remaining bar of soap will last me.”

Sepheo’s Associate Director says, ‘Mabatho Makatla, added that “local shop-owners have agreed to monitor the stations and are generously re-filling the water. This is a true community partnership.” These stations accompany Sepheo’s wider information campaign throughout Motimposo that includes posters on how to protect oneself and the village from infection; also touching on regular washing of hands, not touching the face, coughing into the elbow and keeping a distance from others.

“As we get more information from the World Health Organisation, we will continue to update the community on the best advice,” says Makatla, adding “we can beat this, but we must help each other.” Makatla continued that “this isn’t the last of our coronavirus response and we’re not going anywhere. Whatever we can do to support families get through this very tough time, we will do.” A Basotho organization based in Motimposo, Sepheo is committed to ensuring the safety of children and staff, and has adjusted all of its programnes to comply with government directives and current COVID-19 advices.


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