It all started with a “Guys, what if…?”
Adrian Cassar, a PoléPolé team member and an architecture student at the University of Malta, approached agara with the idea to partner up with Relationships Inspiring Social Enterprise (RISE International) to work on a project. Daniela Gusman, Founder and Executive Director of this US-based, non-profit organisation had visited the university to talk about RISE’s latest project in Lesotho, a landlocked kingdom within South Africa. RISE was looking for volunteer architecture students to help in the development and redesigning of God’s Love Centre (GLC), a child care facility for orphans and vulnerable children, the majority of whom are HIV positive. In keeping with its mission, however, RISE was not only seeking to improve the centre’s infrastructure, but also to develop a social entrepreneurship program whereby the orphanage could raise some of its own revenue while creating jobs for its community members.
This captured agara’s interest straight away. It was a project that promoted sustainability, through the building of a lasting and self-sufficient enterprise; social entrepreneurship, in the training of youth leaders and creating of jobs; and resource accessibility, through the setting up of a new computer lab. It promised to transform education in a high-poverty region, to expand access to IT, and to provide the relevant training for those seeking employment. Moreover, the proposed computer facilities would benefit not only the youths at the centre but also society at large, as the local schools have no computer facilities, and there are presently no internet cafes in the town of Maseru.
agara also chose to support this project as it provides a perfect opportunity for the PoléPolé team to use some of the second-hand laptops that have been donated to agara over the years. The team of seven people travelling to Lesotho this August (formed specifically for this project by people from both within and beyond agara), will not only be helping to set up the computer lab at GLC by taking laptops, but will also be utilising the laptops during their stay. By combining the different backgrounds, areas of expertise, knowledge and experience of its seven members, the team will be able to train the older youths at GLC in how to run basic IT classes, how to maintain the computer lab, and how to manage other income-generating activities. In this way, agara will be promoting sustainability not only through the fact that the laptops will remain there for further use, but also because the laptops can in turn be used by the youth leaders and other members to pass on their knowledge. On a larger scale, this is also in keeping with one of Lesotho’s National Development Plan key objectives, which is to radically transform education to produce world-class skills and expand access to ICT.
Clara Galea – Lesotho Team Member