In a small village in the Berea district, a divorced woman named Thato Mohlakola faced numerous challenges as she navigated the hardships of life. Born into poverty and having left school at an early age, she entered marriage with the hope that her spouse would provide a better life for her. “I thought marriage would be a coping mechanism from poverty” she says. However, fate had other plans, and her marriage ended in divorce in 2012. Struggling to support her four children, she found herself in a seemingly never-ending cycle of poverty.
Thato Mohlakola's life took a downturn after her divorce, as her parents were not working, leaving her with limited support. She had to resort to working as a domestic worker both in Lesotho and in South Africa to make ends meet. In 2020, a devastating illness forced her to resign from her job, plunging her into even deeper financial hardship. Her family went through days without food, and the living conditions in the tiny shack they call home were far from ideal.
Amidst the darkness, a glimmer of hope emerged when one of Thato's neighbors noticed the vulnerability of her situation. They took two of her children under their wing, providing them with essential care and support. Other neighbors also played a vital role in providing food for the family, considering Thato did not even have a vegetable garden.
In November 2021, Thato's life took a transformative turn when she became a beneficiary of the Livelihoods and Resilience ,Animal Gift Catalogue project in the Mapoteng Area Programme. One of the key components of this project was the ‘Empowered World View ‘(EWV) Training, which turned out to be a game-changer for her. The training focused on developing self-confidence, courage, and a positive mindset in the face of challenges. “I had a meeting with self and realized my talents and skills which I can use to change the vulnerability status of my family” she said.
Thato's newfound self-confidence and motivation drove her to embrace change and empowerment wholeheartedly. Inspired by the training, she began to see her potential and the skills she could leverage to improve her family's vulnerability status. The first step she took was constructing a vegetable garden, receiving seeds from World Vision Lesotho to start her agricultural venture. This move allowed her to earn a modest income and provide for her children's basic needs, something that seemed unattainable before the training. Thato joyfully shares “I thought I was in a poverty trap with no hope of being free from it. Life was so difficult for me and my children to an extend that we spend some days without any meals. Empowered World View Training has erased those negative thoughts in my mind, and now I believe there is hope for my future and that of my children.”
Not just limited to gardening, Thato also ventured into making brooms out of natural resources, which further boosted her income streams. The earnings she generated allowed her to join a Savings for Transformation (S4T) group and plans to borrow money for other income-generating activities to enhance her financial stability. Her dream is to ultimately build a home for her children. She proudly shared,” I make 100 Maloti per week through selling vegetables and selling by brooms and it brings me utter joy to be able to provide for my families basic needs which was not the case before my training on Empowered World View”.
The transformative effect of the Empowered World View training didn't just stop with Thato. Her newfound self-confidence enabled her to participate actively in communal and social activities. She became a Community Voluntary Veterinarian (CVV), receiving intensive training on animal disease prevention and treatment, which she used to assist her fellow community members in times of need. Her contributions to the community bridged the gap that once made her feel isolated and discriminated against.
Thato Mohlakola's story is a remarkable testament to the power of empowerment, resilience, and determination. From a life filled with hardship and despair, she emerged as a strong and confident individual, breaking free from the chains of poverty and vulnerability.
Through the Animal Gift Catalogue project and the Empowered World View Training, she found hope, inspiration, and a path to a brighter future for herself and her children. Her story serves as a beacon of hope for many others, reminding us that transformation is possible, even in the face of adversity. With her unwavering spirit and commitment to change, Thato continues to inspire and uplift her community, proving that empowerment is the key to breaking the cycles of poverty and creating a better future.