Thursday, April 27, 2017

Superstar Sentebale

Training partners on finding potential donors during a
recent resource mobilization workshop.
My new role, as of my return to Lesotho, is still working half of the time as a Peace Corps Volunteer Leader and now includes working half of the time with Sentebale.

Sentebale is the Sesotho word for “forget me not.” The NGO Sentebale was founded by Prince Seeiso of Lesotho and Prince Harry of the United Kingdom. It was started over a decade ago after Prince Harry visited Lesotho for two months during his gap year between high school and university.

Before I began working with Sentebale, I thought very highly of the organization. I had an impression of Sentebale as being one of the highest functioning NGOs working in Lesotho. After almost two months with the organization, I am excited to say that my impression was accurate and the organization is even better than my initial impressions.

Sentebale’s mission is to support Orphans and Vulnerable Children. Initially this was in Lesotho only, however, in the last year they have expanded programs to Botswana and are looking at continued expansion. Sentebale meets this mission through three programs: Social Development programming, Clubs and Camps for HIV positive youth, and Youth Clubs for adolescence in various geographies in Lesotho.
Touring Mant'ase Children's Home for the organizational
assessment.

While I am in awe of the other two programs, I am working directly with the Social Development programming, which includes herd boy programming, care for vulnerable children, and scholarships for secondary school students. Most of my work is connected to the care for vulnerable children.

The care for vulnerable children was Sentebale’s first programming effort when it started just over a decade ago. Currently, this program helps to fund nine residential care facilities for different vulnerable populations in Lesotho, especially children with disabilities and orphans who cannot live with extended family members in their home communities.

Interviewing the manager of Kananelo School for the Deaf
as part of the organizational assessment. 
My role, at the moment, is giving me really great professional experience combining my skills from working in non-profits in the US with the development work I have been doing the last three years. I am visiting each of the nine centers; conducting organizational assessments of each one. The centers also all have Sentebale-funded outreach programs, which I will be assessing in the near future. After these assessments are completed, I will be creating and facilitating capacity-building trainings for the staff at each center based upon the weaknesses identified in the organizational assessments.

In addition to all of that, I am helping with capacity-building workshops and camps for the children in some of the programs. For example, at the end of March, my counterpart and I conducted a Resource Mobilization (aka finding funding) Workshop for bookkeepers and managers of the centers with which we are partner. 
As difficult as leaving my Lesotho home village, organization, and family was, and as challenging as my initial entry into my new community was, I am absurdly excited about the work I am doing with Sentebale. I know that I am gaining experience and skills that will help in future development employment when my Peace Corps Volunteer experience comes to an end. Additionally, it is inspiring to be surrounded by such dedicated and professional staff doing so much incredible work in this country.
The resource mobilization team after three intense days of training. 

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You should choose as your life's work whatever feels the most like play.
-Harvey Oxenhorn