Friday, 26 September 2014

Visit to TY Junior Academy, Teyateyaneng, Lesotho by Penarth and District Lesotho Trust and friends, August 2014.

Visit to TY Junior Academy, Teyateyaneng, Lesotho by Penarth and District Lesotho Trust and friends,   August 2014.

 Written by Judith Forbes

Godfrey Kakande is a big man with an even bigger heart.  He needs a big heart because he has poured into it the lives and welfare of 130 children, mainly orphans, from aged 4 to 15+.  He has built, against all odds, a refuge, a home, a school to keep these children safe and to give them a future.  Godfrey’s school stands on a rock, metaphorically and figuratively.  It is a sloping tract of land with little vegetation or means of cultivation but it is now, thanks the help of Penarth and District Lesotho Trust (PADLT) his.  He owns the deeds to the land and this is important because twice before he has built a school only to be thrown out, with all of the children, when the land was claimed for another use.  So the land on which he has built the school slopes madly, the classrooms have uneven floors ,the ‘kitchen’ is falling down and it is open to all weathers but it is, for the time being, secure.  I recently had the privilege of travelling with members of PADLT and others, to TY Junior Academy where we spent 9 days among the children, doing what we could to improve the environment a little. 

We found there happy, joyful, well fed and extremely well educated (more about that later) children.  Godfrey employs staff who work tirelessly to improve the education and welfare of the children in their charge.  Godfrey has rules and a vision and the staff employed here sign up to that vision, otherwise it would not work.  They have to be prepared to bring their hearts not just their qualifications because this is no ordinary school. Beyond their teaching duties the staff apply themselves diligently to every task whether cutting up oranges on the BBQ day, helping us cover hundreds of books in the library or providing us with cups of tea. With virtually no resources Godfrey and his staff have turned TY Junior Academy in to one of the highest performing junior schools in Lesotho and as a result some local residents pay to send their children to this school where the children often sit on the floor and where there are big gaps between one classroom and the next.    
 The latter conditions struck two of members as a task that could be achieved and with great energy, commitment and stamina Max and Nathan set about renovating the classroom block.  By the end of the week, with the help of the older boys in the school and two local lads who appreciated the addition of sausages snaffled from the breakfast table to the wages, they laid new concrete floors and built partitions between the classrooms. The last day saw us painting the walls and partitions and painting on proper blackboards in each classroom. They were transformed.

The library is a new addition to the school.  With the help of grants and fund raising PADLT have supplied the library with the latest teaching books. The previous visiting group (two weeks before) set up and catalogued the library and we set about covering every book with plastic to preserve them.  We worked long hours doing this and were grateful for the staff giving up their free time to help. Whilst we were working in the library many of the children came in, took a book and sat quietly reading before diligently placing the books back on the correct shelf.  When Godfrey makes rules everyone respects them.

When there was free time the children gathered around us.  The older ones had endless questions, about our lives, our families, where we had been, what we had seen, done.  What our lives were like.  The little ones just wanted a cuddle or to hold hands or play with us.  They all loved having their pictures taken, or taking ‘selfies’ or taking pictures of us and they always wanted to see the result.

During the week several other projects were undertaken.  Many of the children inspired by Esme coloured or painted Swallows for a project started by Dolen Cymru and inspired by the fact that Swallows migrate from Wales to Lesotho every year.  We had taken many paints and crayons with us and the children loved doing the drawing. Some of the swallows have been brought back to be placed in an exhibition and others now adorn an otherwise bare classroom in TYJA.
Some of our number, by request from the teachers, taught the children to knit, a task they applied themselves to so diligently that they refused to take any breaks and by the end of the morning many of them could cast on, cast off, increase, decrease and knit plain and purl.  Not bad for one morning’s work.  The teachers promised to carry on with that skill.  Two of us, ex-teachers, introduced the staff to the Jolly Phonics books and Pat demonstrated a Phonics lesson.  We held reading group with the smaller children and Peter taught a huge group of mainly boys, how to hold and strum a guitar.

Meanwhile Lesley and Peter were visiting or being visited by vast numbers of people they had linked with on previous visits.  Two of our number, health professionals, visited the hospital to reinforce links there.  We also took a day off to visit Maseru and the Kome Caves, a great day out.  The country side it fairly barren but also beautiful with wide plains and great purple mountain ranges.  We were welcomed everywhere we went with warmth.  Everyone waved at us, everyone smiled.

Godrey Kakande and the TY Junior Academy is an inspiration.  There is much more to be done and PADLT are committed to continue to fund more projects.  They need a big hall where the children can gather, where they can shelter on extremely wet or cold days.  At present they have only the classrooms or if it is extremely cold, their beds.  They definitely need improved cooking facilities.  We were amazed at what the cooks can achieve in the conditions they work in. Godfrey is in the process of building a separate dormitory for the older boys.

There is another concern. Godfrey, despite a dedicated staff is only one man. TY Junior Academy is Godfrey.  He lives and breathes it and has very little time to himself.  PADLT is committed to working with him to plan for the long-term future.  The future of this school and of the children within it must be assured.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Wales-Lesotho Linking 2014

When our 'dream team' returned from Lesotho they collated their videos, shared their knowledge gained and their experiences in Lesotho with schools in Wales:

Cheque presented to the team at............................Ysgol Glan Morfa, Cardiff

Met some Basotho friends during their visit in Lampeter

They led assemblies and some ESDGC lessons at the following schools:


                  St. Philip Evans Primary

St. Josephs Primary School       

Pentip VA Church in Wales Primary.

Porth Y Terfyn 

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Superb Quthing Schools keep literacy leaping - September 2014

Lesotho Literacy Leap UPDATE:

Here's our schools in Quthing District..........Rea leboha!!!!!

'Me'  Banda at Holy Infant Primary School

Ntate Mxolisi at Phahameng Primary School

Villa Maria Primary School

Moyeni Primary School - Ntate Chobokoane

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Schools Poster Competition September 2014

is next Monday the 8th September and as you know we have been involved in an important new project in 2013/4 called the Lesotho Literacy Leap.

Welsh and Basotho teachers and learners have been using Phonics and donated reading scheme books to raise the importance of developing independent life skills. We have been working in conjunction with the charity School Aid to create libraries and book boxes in schools in Qacha’s Nek and Quthing districts. 

 Teachers and colleagues from the Lesotho Teacher Placement Programme, Connecting Classrooms, Penarth and District Lesotho Trust and Trinity College, Carmarthen have all added to this venture with great success.

Now it’s your turn, try to complete one of the following targets on
 MONDAY 8th SEPTEMBER or later that week and SHARE with us here at Dolen Cymru:

1.       Collect unused Reading scheme books from your school ready for collection by Dolen Cymru

2.       Ask pupils & teachers to donate £2 each to buy a book for a child in Lesotho

3.       Ask pupils to donate old books ready for collection by Dolen Cymru

4.       Discuss the need for reading books as a basic human right in circle time/assembly

5.       Use creative typography to create ‘Literacy for All’ or ‘Lesotho Literacy Leap’ posters –enter them into our first ART COMPETITION – deadline 30th September 2014 

They can be made by hand or using a combination of one of the many FONT apps for example: 


They need to be:

- A4 in size

- Labelled with the pupils full name, age, class, school name, contact teacher name and number/email

- In colour using any media including collage/paint/pen etc

POB LWC and email me at if you have any questions