Paleng and the Pandemic
Paleng, like every other organisation, has been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. It has forced us to take a step back to think and rethink what Paleng is, how we can continue to fulfill our mission in Lesotho and South Africa, and what is possible under the restrictions that the pandemic imposes. Above all we have had to reflect on what we need to do to keep ourselves, our children, and the people we work with safe and well.
After the first few weeks of lockdown, our Lesotho manager Khothatso conducted informal, socially distant interviews on the ground with children to find out what they thought about COVID-19, what they understood about the virus and its effects, and how they were protecting themselves. He also discussed this with adults in the local villages, parents, carers, and key members of the community such as chiefs, teachers, and Ntate Mabele, the Head of the Malealea clinic. It became clear that any information for adults that was reaching the community was by word of mouth only. Nothing formal or official was being given out, and nothing at all specifically directed at children.
So Paleng stepped up to the plate to promote COVID-19 education and support rural Lesotho communities:
- We produced two Sesotho posters for adults, How to Protect Yourself and Home-Based Care, for people with COVID-19. These were based on information from the World Health Organization and posters produced in Zimbabwe and Malawi. Posters were placed in businesses, schools, chief’s offices and homes, clinics, community centres, and churches.
- We produced our own bilingual, comic-style, educational book for children, Coronavirus: I protect you, you protect me.
- We secured funding for the Africa4Jesus women’s sewing group to make over 750 masks for children to receive with the coronavirus books. We also obtained soap for distribution thanks to Bernhard Lang, a long-time friend of Paleng.
We have many people and organisations to thank for helping us during this time, with special thanks to our Paleng Angels.
As for the future COVID-19 landscape, we intend building on the work that we have managed to do against all odds in 2020 and 2021, and new books and ideas are already bubbling away in the back rooms of Paleng.