Giant telecommunications company Vodacom Lesotho (VCL) through its Vodacom Lesotho Foundation (VLF) teamed-up with the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) to renovate the dilapidated Seboche Mission Hospital in Butha-Buthe following the torrential hailstorm that left the hospital in shards.
The nation’s leading network urgency handed over donations as a response toward a plea for assistance and support as a means of disaster relief to the hospital following last year’s rains. The entire hospital’s roof and operating theatre wing was extensively damaged leaving the maternity wards, consequence; affecting the hospital’s business as patients’ admission declined.
Hospital Administrator, Sister Vitalina Doti stated that the roofing was made of asbestoes which had never been renovated since the hospital was built in 1962, and the roofs were no longer strong enough to stand the wrath of the hailstorm.
She said the storm was so heavy that the roofs of the patients’ wards started to leak, water flowing in every room forcing them to evacuate the patients during the rain into another building as they prepped to deal with leaking roof.
She continued that the administration building which they had paid less attention on was flooded with water leaking from the roofs. She said they found the computers keeping patients’ data, hospital data, electrical machines and electronics flooded in water and with electricity cut due to damage done on the electrical appliances which put the patients at risk.
“We reported to the district health authorities who passed the report to the Ministry of Health who then ordered the evacuation of the patients from Seboche Mission Hospital to Butha-Buthe and Motebang Hospitals. We then cancelled the services that were offered in those buildings because there was no way of working under roofless buildings,” she said.
“We continued with hospital services that do not require patients being admitted to the hospital facilities up to date. We also used our ambulances to transport patients to other hospitals where they can get the medical services. We kept asking for donations until VCL heard our plea and told us that the old asbestos roofing will be removed to install new roofing with the help of LDF,” Doti Said.
VLF is the charity arm of VCL mandated to invest in critical areas of development in line with the government of Lesotho’s national strategic development plan. The foundation supports sustainable initiatives that drive social change, improve people’s lives and solve pressing social needs.
The foundation has injected over M150million in the areas of Health, Education, Social Welfare, Gender Equity and Women Empowerment, Youth Empowerment, Safety and Security. It further introduced a number of initiatives to drive its new strategic objectives of becoming a technology to deliver transformational projects that improve and enhance the living conditions of Basotho.
Executive Head of Legal Regulatory and External Affairs, Tšepo Ntaopane on behalf of the Vodacom Foundation stated that, the foundation reached out to the hospital to forge the way forward for the hospital to be back in operation. He mentioned that they had to hold on other projects budgeted for this year in order to reach out to the hospital as soon as possible, although the funds allocated were only for roofing materials.
He added that the foundation reached out to LDF authorities as they have been working together in other projects then LDF agreed to partner with the foundation as volunteering contractors, solving their main problem. He further explained that they have worked in various projects with LDF which makes their partnership more solid and working on this project as a way to reach out to the community is a big project for the foundation.
Ntaopane said one of the projects related to health is VCL and Vodafone Foundation which is intended to assist women going into labour with transportation from their homes to the hospitals and clinics.
“The foundation has hired Basotho vehicles in every village as a way of empowering the community development.
“LDF told the foundation to buy all the roofing materials as well as everything that is related to the re-installation of roofing at the Hospital while they will take care of the construction duties. We also made sure that the computers, machinery and all electronics are recovered because there is no work without electronics,” Ntaopane said.
LDF Commander, Lieutenant General Mojalefa Letsoela highlighted that, it is the responsibility of the LDF to assist in every situation that may occur in the country as they have four pillars that, inter alia, aid in disaster management. He said they heard about the situation at the hospital but they could not do anything to help due to a financial rough patch.
Letsoela continued that LDF uses the Hospital in cases of emergencies as it is their referral hospital due to its proximity to their bases in the area. He said they are inclined to assist the Ministry of Health in cases of disasters under Disaster Management Authority (DMA).
“We have to take part in national development agenda where the constitution of Lesotho and LDF constitution of 1996 guides us in which direction to go and how to operate. LDF has every institution that exist in the world hence General Ramanka Mokaloba will lead the engineering department for this project,” Letsoela said.
He explained that, LDF have worked with the foundation in youth development programs called Makoanyane Rangers and others, and that they have noticed and are aware of the conditions of the old roofs as they are made of asbestos however, they will work on it.
Board Chairman of VCL, John Matlosa mentioned that, the foundation has donated M1 304 718.00million to aid in the reconstruction of the roofing project at Seboche Mission Hospital as a way of the foundation to give back in health and disaster sector. He also mentioned that, they had to ask help from LDF in order to finalise the project so that the hospital can get back to full services.
“We have hard working partners who are ready to work once the material arrives at the hospital to start the re-construction. He added that the funds have already been paid to the hospital’s bank accounts as the foundation promised.
In her acceptance speech, Provincial Animator, Sister Clementina Molefe said she is thankful on behalf of the Sisters of Love and Seboche Mission Hospital. She stated that, what the hospital experienced on that day was traumatizing however, the hospital survived and it will soon be fully functional so that the people can get their services.
Molefe stated that VCL Foundation and LDF answered their prayers in order for the people and community of Seboche villages to get their health services again. She explained that as the Sisters of Love, they will be able to proceed doing what they love and what was started over 60 years ago.