Seotlong Centre – Hlotse
GOAL: To provide a safe and happy environment for people to heal, grow and learn.
DESCRIPTION: The Hlotse Seotlong Centre is built on land donated by the local government, and is made up of two buildings: the Support Centre which houses Help Lesotho’s administrative offices and outreach headquarters for schools, grandmothers and vulnerable children; and the Graff Leadership Centre, which hosts programs such as literacy, leadership, life skills, health education and pre-employment training. Open from Monday-Saturday, the Hlotse Seotlong Centre welcomes community members of all ages. The Centre is also the meeting place for many components of civil society, including Help Lesotho’s local Advisory Council of respected local leaders.
RATIONALE: Hlotse is a rural community that does not have many accessible social support structures. The Seotlong Centre was established to fill a void in the Hlotse community and is a well-known visual representation of stability to the community of Help Lesotho’s long-term commitment to these rural villages and vulnerable populations. Seotlong means ‘a place to share ideas’.
CORE ACTIVITIES: The Centre offers innovative educational, life skills and personal development programming. Youth develop leadership skills in leading community focus groups to determine future programming directions based on identified needs and requests from local people. Programs range from daily drop-in opportunities to weekly courses to multi-month training courses.
Children: story-time, library, educational games;
Youth: tutoring, leadership, life skills, pre-employment training, library, sports, debates;
Adults: monthly Grandmother Days, registered courses (health & nutrition, computer basics, parenting), discussion groups.
The Centre is also home to an intensive three-month youth leadership course, a young mothers’ support group, a support base for women working on income-generating projects and the Basotho Girls’ Leadership Corps residential program. Regular large-scale community events such as sports days, fun walks and HIV-testing opportunities bring hundreds of people to the Centre. Youth leaders and Help Lesotho staff are available to provide various forms of psychosocial support.
APPROACH: The Centre is an investment in the people of Hlotse, recognizing that the most constructive and sustainable form of development occurs when people learn to become decision-makers and problem-solvers. When given the support to face barriers to health and growth, people can rise above suffering, generate hope and create a future together. In this open and inviting space, community members are encouraged to access programming that increases their knowledge and ability to be successful, responsible, and healthy individuals.
IMPACT: The Centre is strongly supported by the Hlotse community and is highly praised by the King of Lesotho for the difference it is making in the region. Over 6000 community members benefit from its services every year. The Hlotse Seotlong Centre contributes to overall community engagement, development of networks, and provides access to local support systems and services. The Centre is a safe and nurturing place where vulnerable children can come to be part of the Help Lesotho family.
Hlotse Centre Gallery