The face behind the Dress A Child Initiative



MASERU – Any donation whether big or small, makes a meaningful difference in the lives of people within the community since such an act of kindness not only helps people in need but also benefits the environment by reducing the amount of waste thereby contributing to a sustainable future.

Tšepiso Lekhula, also known as ‘Ausi a hlatsoang’, is a multi-skilled woman. The Lesotho College of Education alumni who is a proud former beneficiary and alumni of Help Lesotho is a strong advocate against child and forced marriage as well as gender base violence as she beliefs it is better to raise a child, than to deal with a broken adult. She is also the founder and director of a community outreach project, Dress a Child Initiative, which is aimed at making collection of clothes to donate to those who are less fortunate, while also providing academic support and psycho-social support to both the boy and girl child as they are equally important. 

The Dress a Child Initiative is a community outreach project that serves the community by collecting clothes from Basotho and donating them to other Basotho who are less fortunate.  The programme also provides academic and psychosocial support to students who are struggling in both or one of these areas and it also advocates against early or forced child marriage guided by the belief that a child is supposed to learn in a conducive environment to achieve academic success.  As a qualified educationist Lekhula says there is need to go beyond just donating clothes by also offering psycho-social and academic support to both the boy and girl child.

Growing up, she noticed that most non-governmental organisations have been empowering the girl child without paying equal attention to the boy child thereby creating a gap between life skills attained by the girl child and those attained by the boy child.

Dress a Child Initiative was established in the year 2019 through a Facebook post after she asked for clothes for a specific family and received overwhelming and unprecedented responses.  “After receiving clothes from across the country, I thought, why not continue,” says.

She had always known she wanted to serve the community as one Canadian Psychologist Dr. Peg Herbert who was the founder and director of Help Lesotho which sponsored her through high school once said to her, “A lot is expected from whom much is given”. The 26-year old young woman from Tsikoane Leqhutsung in Leribe district went to primary school at Leribe English Medium School before she proceeded to Hlotse High school where she got a fully funded sponsorship and where she was part of a programme called Basotho Girls Leadership Corps.

She was also equipped with life skills such as communication skills, anger management skills, health and risky behavior, conflict resolution and facilitation and public speaking, among others. “And it was here where I nurtured the love of interacting with the community. I then went for a Sign Language course after high school which made me a qualified sign language interpreter with the National Sign Language Training Centre,” she says.

She went to I.B.C College in 2018 where she had to drop out because there were no funds to fund her studies. When she thought it was the end of her dreams in life, she then got an opportunity at Mahlakapese Guest Lodge’s Trainee programme as a chef where she was trained for a year before she went to further her studies at the Lesotho College of education from where she recently graduated with a diploma in primary education. Her favorite module was special education, guidance and counseling.

It is through this programme that she will be able to achieve her goal of academically supporting children while offering psychosocial support to be able to satisfy their special educational needs. Soon as she graduated, she got employed at Mahlakapese Guest Lodge’s sister establishment, Mahlakapese River Resort where she works as a chef. Her main drive for volunteering into sourcing donations was to give her the capacity to gather clothes for children ranging from newborns to 19 year-olds. However, since they receive clothes for all age groups, they now donate to everybody in need, from newly born children to elderly persons.

Among their major sponsors is Mokhesi Maraisane who she says reaches out time and again when they have outreaches with transportation to and from the places they visit.

Her other sponsor is Retšelisitsoe Nthaha of CoolFirm media who helps out with graphics, designing of posters, since they mostly reach out to people on social media, especially Facebook where the response from the Facebook community has been good over the years.

As Dress A Child Initiative, she says, their short-term goals are to go for outreaches at least four times a year, that is quarterly, but they are still able to assist people who contact them when they notice a need within their community. Their long-term goal is to grow Dress A Child Initiative to a point where they will have it registered as a non-governmental organisation that has four departments, including donation of clothes, which they are already engaged in.

She recalls: “On my first outreach it was just me and my grandmother ‘Makabelo Lyllian Letsosa, who has been very supportive since I started. Carrying clothes with hands without any means of transport.”

She says she takes after her late mom who also had a girls’ club called Kids First, where she kept girls off the streets with pageantry competitions and other activities such as drama, therefore she believes she was born to serve.

“I would like to thank each and every single person who has helped us to help other people by donating clothes and making sure they reach us. I would also like to thank the two ladies I have been working with, Refiloe Ramokebe and Thekiso Makhale, and our sponsors,” she adds, expressing her heartfelt appreciation.

Encouraging potential donors she reiterates the popular adage, “It takes a village to raise a child and that they can all be a part of it.” She urges everyone to be the change the whole world would want to see and contribute to positive social change by simply donating clothes that are still in good condition to Dress A Child as she believes it is better to raise a happy child than to repair a broken adult.

She believes troubled kids should not be part of our contemporary communities’ problems since there is something that can be done about it. Although they are doing great job of helping the vulnerable groups, their biggest challenge is going for as many outreaches as they want because they have other commitments.

Therefore, she appealed to volunteers to help out on arranged dates of outreaches to assist since transportation is sometimes a problem as they only have just one sponsor who sponsors from from their pocket, which is a challenge.  She says it is also hard for them to find clothes for the boy child, uniforms as they operate on a zero budget.

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