Ha Sekantṧi is a small 94-year old village in the Maletsunyane No. 47 constituency, with a population of 300 people who have no access to electricity and running water. The people’s major sources of livelihood are livestock and subsistence farming
The village is for the most part at peace with itself, except for major menace – the nearby Likolobeng River. A winding river like many others in Lesotho, Likolobeng has since time immemorial been particularly tempestuous when high and in flood during the rainy summers, according to the villagers.
The river is notorious for leaving adults and children communities marooned and unable to cross to the other side for essential services like clinics and schools when it is in spate and impassable. Many people and livestock have died attempting to cross the choppy waters.
One of the villagers, Motlatsi Khanyapa who was born at Ha Sekantṧi and has basically lived there his whole life, says Likolobeng River has killed so many people that he has lost count.
Flowing perpendicular to the Semonkong Road, the nearest part of the river is about a kilometre – 30-minute walk – from the road. The residents of Ha Sekantṧi have to cross both river and road to walk to the clinic at Rapo-le-Boea. Children, too, have to embark on this two-hour daily walk to St Odilon Primary School and Rapo-le-Boea High.
Khanyapa lamented the hardships and challenges that children have to endure to get an education. These, plus the fact that they are forced to bunk school on rainy days, has forced many children to drop out of school.
“I cannot tell you how many people have been killed by this river alone; I too nearly drowned a couple of years ago. We have tried for years to find ways to tackle this river and make our lives easier but we have failed.
“The stakes are even higher when you have a patient and the river is in flood. The patient ends up dying before getting medical attention.
“We have been asking for a foot bridge for as long as I can remember, to make it easier for us to access the health centre and our children to get to school even in inclement weather.”
Well, their prayers have finally been answered. rise international will be constructing a footbridge over Likolobeng soon and the sod turning ceremony to mark commencement of the project was help on Tuesday this week. rise international is a non-profit organisation that focuses on economic development through job creation and skills development.
Its founder Daniela Gusman said she learned of the plight of the Ha Sekantṧi community and their precarious living conditions from local freelance photographer Justice Kalebe.
“We got the funds for this project from one of the architecture companies back home in America, and I am very pleased that today we are able to help this community because to them this is more than just a bridge but a reminder that somewhere in the world there are people who are thinking about them,” Gusman said.
On behalf of the community, Ha Sekantṧi councilor Lekula Ntai said he was delighted for the bridge and that it would save a lot of lives.
“This bridge will also motivate our children to go to school without worrying about getting washed away. I hope the people of Ha Sekantṧi will take care of the bridge.”
For his part, Kalebe indicated that the village was particularly close to his heart because that’s where his mother was born.
The bridge is expected to be completed in November this year and all the community members will be involved in the building of the bridge.