The Ivory Foundation is developing a multi-stage project to introduce young people to the world of agriculture. Livestock farming, market gardening and food crops are seen here as career opportunities for deaf and hard-of-hearing young people at St Paul’s School in Hlotse, Lesotho.
Lesotho is a small landlocked country within South Africa, where 43% of the population lives below the poverty line ($1.25 a day) and over 23% of the adult population is HIV positive. St Paul’s School, funded by the NGO Sentebale, is located in Leribe, at the northern tip of the country, and brings together deaf and dumb children aged 5 to 14 from rural areas and very disadvantaged backgrounds.
St Paul’s was founded in 1981, and was the first school for deaf children and young people in the country. It is located in the northern part of the country, around 92 km from the capital Maseru, and is managed, in accordance with Lesotho’s education laws, by a school board made up of representatives of the teaching staff, parents and the local chief.
It operates as a boarding school and currently looks after 240 children, offering them the chance to break out of their isolation by teaching them sign language and providing them with a quality education and living environment for several years. At the end of their schooling, the children return to their village of origin and continue to be monitored by the school with a view to their professional integration.
The Ivory Foundation has been supporting St Paul’s school in Leribe since 2015, in particular by funding infrastructure and equipment to improve their daily lives. The fund has financed the construction of a borehole and a water tower to bring running water to the school at the beginning of 2021, the restoration of the plumbing and electricity systems and the improvement of the dormitories by renewing the 180 beds to improve the children’s hygiene.
Since 2017, The Ivory Foundation has been supporting deaf and hearing-impaired young people at St Paul’s School in the Leribe region of Lesotho, where an educational micro-farm has been developed to offer young people professional opportunities. The project has enabled them to learn a range of farm management techniques, including agro-ecology, cereal production and animal husbandry:
Firstly, to meet the needs of the school canteen through the self-production of vegetables, eggs, milk and pork.
Secondly, to train the schoolchildren, particularly the older ones, in skills that will be useful to them when they return to their respective villages.
In 2018, the principle of a micro-farm is being developed to offer the older children the opportunity to set up their own livestock, a self-built building, and the tools and seeds to start up their business in their home village: this is the Farming Our Future project.
In 2021, a new garden was set up at St Paul’s school for young deaf and hard-of-hearing children to teach them how to care for a vegetable garden, the Palesa garden. The garden is divided into four sections, each of which is available to a class. Every week, schoolchildren work on their respective plots with their teachers. Educational tools using sign language have also been developed.