The Voice of Young People
My name is Mamello Fosere and I come from Lesotho. I was born in 1979 at Scott Hospital. I stay in a village called Tanka in Mafeteng district. I live with my mother, two sisters and three brothers. My father died in 1992.
Mamello was invited to be a facilitator at a seminar in Swaziland in March 2000, organised by Save the Children (SC-UK). The aim of the seminar was to review SC-UK’s support of Community Based Rehabilitation programmes in 22 countries. SC-UK was keen to encourage young disabled people to be part of the review process and to play an active role as facilitators in the seminar itself.
Mamello became known in her community as ‘the little lady’ – she had a severe form of brittle bone disease. She was supported by the Scott Hospital CBR team to attend her local school. However, long before she was provided with a wheelchair and given a place in school, she was educated at home by her friends. Later community members organised the rebuilding of the road to the school so that Mamello could go to school in her wheelchair without the risk of breaking her bones.
Mamello related her story to the seminar participants and together we edited it for Enabling Education. She has happy memories of primary school, but secondary school was much tougher.
I was taught how to read and write at home by my best friend – we used to play together all the time. We played with dolls and I taught my friends how to sew clothes and knit jerseys. We started a choir and were joined by many children. Teachers from Tanka primary school visited us and gave me some work to do.
I started school in 1994, at the age of 15, in standard 5. At school I was cared for by teachers and other children. At that time I liked school very much. I was able to help my teacher in teaching others and it helped me to know more things and remember them all the time. I was able to pass Standard 5 and 6 in position 1, and first class in Standard 7 (the last year of primary school).
When I completed primary school in 1997, I went to a boarding school at Motsekuoa.
I had not applied to this school because I heard that there was bad treatment of Form A (first year) students. When I heard that I had a place at Motsekuoa. I felt that it was better not to attend school, but my friend told me that she would take care of me. The parents’ organisation, LSMHP, paid my school fees for the first 3 years. I was not treated badly, but we had to wake up very early every day.
Some teachers didn’t beat me when I failed to answer their questions or failed their subjects, but others beat me. When they entered the class I was not thinking about their subjects, instead I would be thinking about how they would beat me when I failed to answer their questions.
Some children became my friends, while others would be calling me names. I told the teachers and the teachers beat them and told them not to do it again.
Sometimes other children, who were not my friends, took me to the toilet and helped me onto the wheelchair. In 1998 I had a problem with my friend who was taking care of me. She became pregnant and left school. But I had another friend, who is also disabled, and she did the same things that my first helper did. I also had a problem with her. She could not finish her schooling because she did not have enough money to pay the boarding fees. I passed Form C (the third year of secondary school) in second class, but I was out of school this year because my mother could not pay the school fees for me and my 3 brothers and 1 sister.
My intention is to finish high school and do social work and help other children with disabilities.
We are sad to report that Mamello died of pneumonia just four months after the seminar. Her courage and determination live on in the Tanka community and beyond. She was a true pioneer.