“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 13:12)
Ever since he began teaching at Qiloane Primary School (QPS), Mr. Emmanuel Pitso has longed for a proper classroom building. With God’s help, support from the local community and international friends, his longing may soon be fulfilled.
Whereas at most schools the words “Let’s go outside”, said by a teacher, would be music to the ears of primary school students, at QPS the students would love to hear the words, “Let’s go inside”! That’s because they always have classes outside – their school is an outdoor school.
QPS is one of several primary schools of the Lesotho Evangelical Church in Southern Africa (LECSA) that I visited in May with the LECSA Education Secretary Mr. Samuel Senekal and his assistant Mrs. Adelaide Kotele. The purpose of the visits was to scout for the next classroom building project after completing the one at Bolahla Primary School.
Although it is only about 50 miles by road from Morija (and only 15 miles as the crow flies), it still took about 3 hours to reach QPS. When we arrived we found classes being held outside. Small chalkboards leaned against trees. Students sat on pieces of canvas, stones or benches. Teachers marked students’ work standing up as there were no tables for them! It really was an outdoor school. There was an old stone kerekana (small church) that must date back many decades and has services on Sundays as it is an outstation of one of the LECSA’s parishes.
A look inside the building made it easy to understand why classes were outside and students used their laps as desks. The school furniture amounted to one desk and two benches.
Last month we held a pitso (peet′-so), or outdoor community meeting, to discuss the possibility of putting up a classroom building. A pitso is called by the area chief whenever there is need to discuss issues affecting the community. The chief listens to the various speakers and then, as the last speaker, tries to summarize the views and build consensus for the way forward. The concept dates from the time of King Moshoeshoe I, the founder of the Basotho nation back in the early 1800’s.
At the pitso to discuss the classroom project there were around 80 men and women gathered to hear the various speakers, including Mr. Pitso and Mr. Senekal. Men and women sat in small groups, men on one side and women on the other, as is the tradition. Besides the chief, also present were the parish minister, the local village headman and the Member of Parliament for the area.
The community’s support for the project was evident in that they had already begun working on the road. The last few miles of the rough track leading to the school are quite rocky in places and we noticed that some of the worst spots we encountered in May were noticeably improved. During the pitso the community promised to keep working on the road and also pledged to collect water for the project. Since the water source is several hundred yards away from the school site, this will be of great help. If all goes well LECSA hopes to break ground in September or October.
The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Romans, talks about the future hope we, as Christians, have waiting for us in heaven. He writes, “For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” (8:24-25). While we wait for our ultimate hope to be fulfilled, we can each give evidence of God’s love, wherever we are in this world, by helping others to see earthly hopes and dreams fulfilled. I pray that one day Mr. Pitso will no longer have to hope for a classroom building. He won’t have to hope for it because it will be there!
Yours in Christ,
Mark Behle serves with the Lesotho Evangelical Church. His appointment is made possible by your gifts to Disciples Mission Fund, Our Churches Wider Mission, and your special gifts.