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Ha Sekantsi village -a low hanging fruit for ecotourism

Business

Staff Reporter

On A5 road to Semonkong lies a village named Ha Sekantši which falls under Maletsunyane constituency and Makhoalipane Community Council with the population of less than 300.

Sitting remotely from the main road, the village is home to Lesotho’s first permanent outdoor exhibition initiated by Justice Kalebe, a Mosotho travel and humanitarian photographer.

The village is conveniently located near the spectacular Thaba Chitja Mountain.

The place boasts of natural attractions such as the Motlotloaneng oa Letsie III cave(formerly a hiding place for King Letsie II), ‘Makhoho Waterfall.

The place is a home for vultures, antelopes and porcupines (Noko).

On Saturday the 3rd October, 2020, a sod turning event was held for the construction of a Learning Centre at Ha Sekantši village near the relics of an old school which was built after 1966. The event was marked by a tree planting on the allocated site and it was organised by Possible Dream Foundation (PDF), Community of Ha Sekantši and the Lesotho Jeep Legends.

The gala was graced by the presence of the Lesotho Mounted Police Service representatives, Makhoalipane Council, chief of the area, Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation (LTDC), and Lesotho Distance Teaching Centre (LDTC) under the auspices of the Ministry of Education and Training and thesurrounding villagers.

The Possible Dream Foundation was founded by Justice Kalebe and his wife Makopano Kalebe in 2018 with a mission to empower and strengthen the community of Ha Sekantši, and the aim of the foundation is to assist the community solve their own problems through collective actions and meaningful community participation so as to create a sense of community ownership and accountability.

Speaking on the same event ‘Makopano Kalebe explained that she was immensely touched by the plight of the villagers especially children who have to walk about 2 hours to get to the school.

In 2018 the Foundation partnered with Rise International through the financial support of J Portelli Projects from Malta to build a footbridge that now connects the community to the main road said ‘Makopano.

“The plan is to construct a community learning centre which will include preschool, junior primary school as well as formal and vocational school for herders and adults to receive basic education,” she asserted.

Moreover, she said the learning centre will be used for career skill training such as tour guiding, sewing, crafts making and photography mentorship programs.

A member of Lesotho Jeep legends, Seabata Tutuoane at the same gathering said they received a request from Possible Dream Foundation to extend a helping hand in the fundraising towards the construction of a community learning centre in Ha Sekantši.

“The Jeep legends positively responded to the call and have already started depositing money in the bank account of a selected hardware for purchase of the building materials,” averred Tutuoane.

“Travelling to Ha Sekantši was adventurous and challenging as we were traversing through the treacherous and inaccessible road of Ha Sekantši. While we navigated the road some vehicles got stuck by huge rocks, however, through team work we assisted each other until we reach the destination,” Tutuoane indicated.

In a separate interview with Justice Kalebe, he indicated that his grandmother who was born in Ha Sekantsi inspired him to travel to the village and document the beauty of the area and its people.

The documentation of the social history and heritage of Ha Sekantši resulted in the launching of the first and only outdoor permanent exhibition in rural Lesotho. The exhibition has attracted local, regional and international travellers.

“My aspiration is to make Ha Sekantši the next ecotourism destination,” declared Justice, adding “It is our wish to partner with LTDC in carrying out sustainable tourism projects for the community.”

“Our current immediate need is tour guiding, pony trekking and craft as they are low hanging fruit,” added Kalebe.

“I have already started photo exhibitions at the village and 50 percent of the entrance fee is donated to the community projects as a way of empowering them,” he pointed out.

In his remarks, the LTDC Public Relations Officer Molapo Matela lauded Possible Dream Foundation and Lesotho Jeep Legends, crediting their initiatives to be in synch with the corporation’s domestic tourism strategy coined under the mantra “Visit your country First”.

“Sacrificing time on your busy schedule and travelling to the village, mingling, enjoying traditional food and camping overnight means a lot to the community as you will leave behind financial footprints.”

“LTDC will assist in promoting Ha Sekantši to domestic and international travellers, utilising various platforms such as social media, website to market the area as a destination for choice,” Matela said.

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