GOAL: To enable vulnerable populations to cope and become socially responsible citizens with restored hope for the future.
DEFINITION: The term “psychosocial” is defined by UNICEF as the inter-connection between psychological and social processes and their mutual and continual influence on each other.
“Psychosocial support” (PSS) refers to a continuum of care and efforts to meet ongoing emotional, social and spiritual needs of individuals as they cope with life’s challenges (Bantwana). In the context of Help Lesotho’s programs, psychosocial support refers to any action or education, not necessarily individual counseling, that increases the resilience of an individual.
DESCRIPTION: Psychosocial support is multifaceted and can be expressed through such basic approaches as kindness, care, respect, understanding, tolerance and acceptance, dignity, and acknowledging feelings. Help Lesotho’s programs enable vulnerable individuals to rise above suffering, to deal, grow, work and lead, and to become responsible citizens. Discussion groups, reflection journals and role playing help participants to integrate and process new and more helpful coping strategies for dealing with challenges.
RATIONALE: Any human being, especially a child, who suffers great loss, violence, deprecation, isolation or separation from family members can experience fractures in their sense of social and emotional well-being, often with long-term consequences. The psychosocial support approach in a context like Lesotho is to involve children, youth and adults as active agents in their own lives and to increase the protective factors in the child’s external environment with services that build strength and resilience.
APPROACH: Help Lesotho’s unique contribution in Lesotho lies in the depth, sensitivity and effectiveness of our psychosocial support approach. First, our programs are modeled on the understanding that real and lasting transformation is achieved through reiterative programming that addresses core causes, deals with emotional realities and provides practical, locally relevant strategies. Such an approach needs to be embedded within Basotho culture and traditions. Programs need to promote sound child/human development and age-appropriate physical, cognitive and emotional competencies in a safe and stable environment. Second, building peer to peer support and group support networks strengthen families or care-giving structures for children and youth, giving them a voice to their pain and scaffolding their development. Help Lesotho programs are specifically designed to build on internal and external factors to nurture self-reliance and resilience in the orphans and vulnerable children of Lesotho, based on the three recognized fundamental components of psychosocial interventions (UNHCR): 1) skills and knowledge; 2) social well-being; and 3) emotional well-being. Program components involve staying with the same child, youth or grandmother over time rather than one-time interventions, and providing sustainable support systems or networks. Training session topics include grief and loss, dealing with anger, the imbalance of power in relationships, stigmatization, isolation, loneliness, violence, sexual abuse, etc.
Grandmother Support Program:
Every two years, over 200 grandmothers participate in a community-based support group program. Monthly meetings include education on health and nutrition, grief and loss, home care and HIV/AIDS, as well as providing the opportunity for grandmothers to share their pain, fears and hopes with each other. Participants also receive such basic relief items as shoes, blankets, garden seeds, and emergency food parcels. Click to learn more.
Orphan Relief Fund:
While Help Lesotho is committed to sustainable development initiatives, basic relief is a component of psychosocial support to children. The Orphan Relief Fund provides relief and support to vulnerable children to build hope and resilience.
Seotlong Centre – Hlotse:
Located in the town of Hlotse, this is the larger of Help Lesotho’s two community leadership centres. The Hlotse Seotlong Centre offers innovative educational, life skills and personal development programming. Programs range from daily drop-in opportunities to weekly courses to multi-month training courses. Click to learn more.
Seotlong Centre – Pitseng:
Serving the rural community of Pitseng, this community leadership centre offers programs for the thousands of orphans, vulnerable children and grandmothers in the surrounding villages. The Centre provides a safe and happy environment for people to heal, grow and learn. Click to learn more.
Young Mothers Support Program:
The Young Mothers Support Program equips impoverished young mothers and pregnant girls with the psychosocial support, child development knowledge and health education to improve the lives and futures of their children. Click to learn more.