Batho ba Lerato, Thaba Nchu, Archdiocese of Bloemfontein

Batho ba Lerato, Thaba Nchu, Archdiocese of Bloemfontein

13 June 2012

The SACBC AIDS Office visited Batho ba Lerato , an orphan and vulnerable children’s project,  supported by  PEPFAR,  in Thaba Nchu in the Archdiocese of Bloemfontein and met Fr Raphael Mothe OMI , and Ms Lerato Moeng the co-ordinator.  The project was originally started in the 1980s in the time of apartheid as a youth development project under the Archdiocese, and supported mostly by the Oblates.  The OVC project itself was established later by Ms Moeng. Eight hundred children benefit from services in drop-in centres, in Hobhouse, Dewetsdorp, Tweespruit,  four  centres in Thaba Nchu itself,  and in the trust areas.  Thaba Nchu is part of the former Bophutatswana homeland, with some people of the area being employed in small factories in Botshabelo producing clothing and plastic utensils.

Batho ba Lerato  oversees a  shoe-making project which sees 60% of proceeds going to the children involved, and 40% back into the project.  Some young people been able to pay registration fees at the University of the Free State for themselves. Some others have been trained in welding, building, carpentry, and electrician and plumbing skills in a programme in the Diocese of Bethlehem.  Their skills and labour will be used in a forthcoming project supported through  SACBC AIDS Office funding to make improvements to and do repairs on houses occupied by some of the children being assisted in the project.  Other young people are being helped with training, offered by people from nearby Lesotho,  as hairdressers and manicurists so that they can support themselves in the local area.

Another successful undertaking of Batho ba Lerato is the involvement in the Master Maths programme of the Department of Basic Education.  Child care workers  have done the training, intended for teachers,  to enable them to oversee the work of the children in the drop in centres.  Students from the University of the Free State and from the Central University of Technology, themselves “graduates” of Batho ba Lerato are also  involved. Batho ba Lerato now has a good working relationship with the Department of Social Development, and is able to access training for child caregivers, food parcels for some families and the services of social workers around psycho-social support for children.

Some children needing ARV treatment have been assisted through the Siyathokoza, the Church’s ARV programme in Botshabelo.