Econet bids star students farewell

As telecoms firm continues its support through Higher Life Foundation

LITEBOHO MOLEKO

MASERU – Giant telecommunications company Econet Telecom Lesotho (ETL) this week bid farewell to two Basotho students bound for the United States of America to study under the company’s HigherLife Foundation. Nthati Lehloenya will be studying Computer Engineering at Oklahoma University while Mahali Mabesa will study Statistics at Colby College.

Econet has been funding the students Lehloenya from Kolonyama, Leribe, and Mabesa from Ha Khabo, also in Leribe, throughout their high school under the auspices of the Foundation. The duo then proceeded to Waterford Kamhlaba College where they both obtained International Baccalaureate certification in 2021.

ETL chief executive office, Dennis Plaatjies, called on the Basotho during the farewell ceremony to appreciate the Econet Wireless Group which funds the HighLife Foundation, which in turn helps youngsters realise their educational dreams. Plaatjies appealed to the two students to behave, study hard and pass with distinctions and come back home to change the country for the better.

“In Lesotho, HigherLife Foundation works under Capernaum to assist young orphans and vulnerable children,” he said, pointing out that application forms can be found on the Foundation’s website, as well as all other details relating to applications. Plaatjies elaborated that, after the whole process, they visit applicants at their respective schools and homes to verify the information provided. He added that the website contains all the information that gives clarity specifically on the type of children they fund and certain documents needed for this funding. This month they admitted 303 children into the funding and they will start paying their fees, he added.

One of the recipients going overseas, Lehloenya stated that she was overwhelmed by the Foundation which has gone to great lengths to enable her progress in education. “I come from a family of three, my older brother, older sister and I’m the youngest. We’re were practically raised by a single mother our whole lives as our father passed on when I was only four. “I was still young but I still have memories of that time from Grade 1 when I watched my mom struggle with her little pay to get my sister and I the best education,” she said.

She added that in June 2012 she enrolled with Soofia English Medium School where she met the other recipient, Mabesa. In 2014 she managed to bring home her Top 1 honours in the Primary School Leaving Examination while Mahali achieved the Top 3 position. The two were introduced to HigherLife Foundation which has since been sponsoring them after efforts by their former English teacher in 2016.

The teacher has since died. Lehloenya further said she also got an opportunity to win US$1 000 (about M16 000) for her project. The project was aimed at implementing positive change in her community where she worked with counsellors, the village chief and the community at large to increase water outlets throughout the village to relieve water stress in her community.

She said because of HigherLife Foundation her life has never been the same as she never thought one day she would be boarding a flight to the United States to pursue her studies and represent her country. She said she will forever be grateful to the Foundation. Lerato Takana, also funded by HigherLife Foundation, said at the same event that it was a privilege for him to bid the two students farewell. He advised them to abide by three significant rules namely; networking, humility and staying true to themselves.

Takana added that he was proud of the pair and was hopeful that their stories will inspire their peers. In 2018, Takana went to the US and enrolled with Harvard University doing Physics and Mathematics. He acquired his degree a month ago and his journey will likely continue in September when he heads back to Harvard or Stanford to pursue a Phd in Physics. He is confident of returning as Dr Takana later.

On behalf of the students’ parents, ’Mamahali Mabesa said it was a blessing that HigherLife Foundation funded their children and is proud of them. She stated that she is thankful that this Foundation made life easy for their children as they could not make ends meet on their own. Institute of Development Management (IDM)’s newly appointed Director, Dr Moeketsi Letele, on behalf of the Ministry of Education and Training congratulated and sent his best wishes to scholarship recipients leaving for the United States. Dr Letele reminded the two learners that education is key to national economic development.

“It is no secret that our country is going through a financial crisis and we welcome initiatives done by organisations such as Econet through this approach they use to see to it that Basotho get educated through their own platform they call HigherLife Foundation,” he said. Letele said it was impressive that the Foundation has more than 500 students that it is supporting financially to advance their studies. He appealed to other players in the private sectors to take a leaf out of Econet’s book and provide more sponsorship to needy learners.

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