Sarah’s* challenging journey began long before she was born when her mother, Puleng, became a double orphan. Puleng and her siblings lost both parents to illness. As often happened at that time, these siblings were placed in a local orphanage.
A few years later, Puleng ran away from the orphanage to live on her own. Without any parental supervision or protection, Puleng struggled just to survive and became pregnant.
She was only 15 years old when Sarah was born.
Puleng’s inability to care for herself and her daughter left them vulnerable and they moved from house to house asking for food. When Sarah was three months old, Trust for Africa (TFA) learned of their dire circumstances.
Mafusi Semethe serves as the Senior Social Worker and Director of the Emergency Shelter at TFA. She shared, “It was during these times that a Good Samaritan put in a word to TFA, and arrangements were made to accommodate Puleng and her infant daughter.”
Mafusi added, “During their stay at TFA, we provided support not only for Sarah but also for Puleng. A year later, TFA sponsored Puleng to return to school based in another district to pursue her dream in fashion design.”
Unfortunately, things took a different turn when Puleng stopped attending school and disappeared. There were rumours that she went to South Africa.
Six years after Puleng disappeared, Trust for Africa started the journey of transitioning to family-based care.
TFA’s Chief Operating Officer, Mbele Horoto, explained:
“TFA is founded on the principle that all children belong in families. TFA is the first children’s home in Lesotho to transition from a children’s home to permanent family solutions for children.”
While continuing to care for Sarah, TFA staff members were committed to locating and identifying her extended family. We learned that Puleng’s sister, Lisebo, lived in the village that they came from—with her husband.
TFA worked to establish a connection with Aunt Lisebo and her husband. Through counselling and education, TFA helped them understand the importance of Sarah growing up in a family environment rather than an orphanage. Since Lisebo was raised in an orphanage, this wasn’t too difficult. She knew first-hand the challenges of institutional care.
With some expected ups and downs, the family’s bond grew stronger and the process culminated in a successful reunification. Sarah has been living with her Aunt Lisebo for two years now. She is now 12 years old and thriving in grade six. Her present life is filled with joy, talents, and achievements. She is a sociable, talented girl who excels in school.
“I generally enjoy arts. I like singing to myself and others. It is fun. I like to dance as I sing. I am fascinated by the new dance trends. I spend time practicing and become good at it over time. The people I spend time with seem to like my singing, dancing and acting,” Sarah says.
Through collaboration with the Ministry of Social Development, TFA helped Lisebo’s family to receive assistance in the form of Public Assistance Grants. TFA also provides additional support, including help with school expenses and periodic food packages.
We continue to monitor and offer counselling to help the family navigate the joys and challenges of their new dynamic.
Looking back, Sarah’s journey from a difficult past to her current thriving state has been a testament to the power of family, support, and determination.
While her earlier years were marked by uncertainty, her present shines with promise, illustrating the positive outcomes that can be achieved through compassion and a strong support network.
Leading by example, TFA provides technical support to orphanages in Lesotho. The organization has joined a global movement that is listening to research, personal experience, and scripture that shows children grow best in families, not in orphanages.