In a small, stone-and-cement building in rural Lesotho, lives are being changed and futures formed. More than 70 children dressed in green school uniforms pay close attention to their preschool teacher, 43-year-old Malitsoanelo Moqasa.
Malitsoanelo began Hlaphoheloang (“be wise”) Preschool in 2009. “I realized there was a need in this area: many children were just staying at home,” she says. “I really love children, and I wanted them to learn and see the importance of going to school.”
Malitsoanelo left a full-time job to begin the preschool, and while she has not had any formal training in early childhood education, Malitsoanelo has completed several courses with Lesotho’s Ministry of Education and Training.
Malitsoanelo decided to volunteer her school to participate in the Mphatlalatsane Project when she saw the potential value of the support. She facilitated meetings with parents to explain the project, and 18 children and their caregivers became part of the pilot in May and June 2015. The pilot was comprised of several components, including book-sharing, which is intended to improve child cognitive development, language, vocabulary, and strengthen the child-caregiver relationship. The pilot also included nutrition assessments, and health and nutrition messaging.
The Mphatlalatsane Project, meaning “early morning star” in Sesotho, is part of a three-country, USAID-funded special initiative focused on orphans and vulnerable children. The project, implemented in preschools in Lesotho, delivers book-sharing and health messages to caregivers and children aged 1-5 years to provide holistic support for children’s minds and bodies at the most critical point of their development.