Last weekend, I was lucky enough to attend MOYOLO (Metolong Youth Optimizing Leadership Opportunities) Camp! This was my friend Katie’s project, which she has been working through ups and downs to make a reality for months. It was incredible to participate in such a successful event hosted by a fellow PCV!
MOYOLO was done in partnership with a few local orgs. Catholic Relief Services (CRS) funded it, while Blue Cross (a drug and alcohol awareness/treatment organization) ran the sessions. It was organized by Katie and her principal, Ntate Molefi. This entire event was done without a Peace Corps grant, which is pretty impressive!
Children from 6 primary schools in Katie’s region came together for 3 days of games, activities, and sessions run by Blue Cross. They learned about everything from goal setting to HIV/AIDS to drugs and alcohol. Everything was done in a fun, inclusive, and active way – I’m sure the whole village could hear singing and cheering all weekend long!
Blue Cross employees brought along a few high school “peer mentors” who were graduates from past camps. Watching these mentors interact with the youth was my favorite part of the weekend – they were so gentle, such good role models, and always had something fun to do with the kids!
While the children were playing and learning, the PCVs ran a set of sessions for the teachers who accompanied their students to camp. We focused on topics including communicating with young people about sex and gender-based violence in schools. The idea was to engage teachers in the camp so they become invested in the learners’ experience, but to separate the groups to use age-appropriate language and topics.
On the last night of camp, we had a talent show, and it was one of my most fun experiences in Lesotho. The kids performed songs, dances, and even some gymnastics. Peer mentors, teachers, and PCVs cheered them on, and the night ended in a giant dance party. The entire show had such a positive and encouraging vibe!
At the end of the camp, the youth and teachers met to plan student councils at their schools. While camps are fun, the real sustainable work lies in planning some kind of club that will continue to involve the participants (and their communities) as time goes on. I’m excited to hear from Katie about what the student councils get up to in the next few months!