Patiseng Primary School

The Patiseng Primary School in Lesotho is situated in the north of the country in the Butha-Buthe district in the Kota Valley. About 30 families live in the village which hugs the foot of the Sekameng Mountain range. A blind valley surrounds the village on three sides. 120 children attending the school were crammed into two classrooms which were in a state of disrepair and severely limited the quality of education provided. The local community relies on subsistence farming. They cultivate the mountainsides which they have sculpted into a series of terraces to make as much land as possible useful for farming.  Crops like millet, cabbage, carrots and a little maize are grown and are watered by seasonal rains. These crops provide the staple diet for this vulnerable mountain community.

Part of Basotho culture requires that young boys spend most of their pre-teen years tending goats, sheep and cattle high up on the mountains where they have to forage for grazing. The annual harvest of hair from the Angora goats and wool from the sheep provides a small but badly needed cash injection to their very basic economy. Of Lesotho’s population of about two million, more than one third live in the mountains in this fashion. Here the Basotho pony is the sole means of transport. Owning one of these sturdy and amazingly sure-footed horses is a man’s prerogative, but most womenfolk can ride equally well and children learn to sit a saddle sometimes even before they can walk.

Prior to our arrival

The existing school building consisted of only two classrooms into which 120 pupils, spanning at least three grades, were crammed. The circumstances were far from ideal. The lack of office facilities further complicated the space problem, impacting directly on the quality of teaching that could be achieved. As with most schools in these remote rural areas, this one was also in a state of disrepair due to a lack of good maintenance over many years. The buildings suffered from broken rafters and ceilings, broken and cracked walls, windows and floors and no proper toilet facilities to cater for the hygiene needs of the children. There was a total lack of school furniture and desks. Each existing school desk was used by five pupils at once.

These conditions were exacerbated by the limited water supply to the community in general. The village suffered from a constant shortage of water since no storage facility existed whereby the run- off from the clean mountain springs could be stored. During daylight hours families had to carefully plan their collection of drinking water. They filled containers from a trickle of water on a mountainside spring.

Work Completed

Friends From Ireland Volunteers travelled to Lesotho in August 2011 and completed the following objectives;

  • Renovation of existing school building.
  • Building of a three roomed new school building.
  • Provision of water supply and water storage facilities to village.
  • Building of playground for school kids.
  • Provision of four new toilets at school site.

This project involved two weeks living in a camp adjacent to the school site. Temperatures ranged from -10C to +20C and living conditions were challenging for volunteers who lived in a tented camp.

Kaurimbi Expeditions looked after our logistics once again and were a pleasure to work with again.