CHILDREN at the Ministry of Hope sanctuary were treated to a “happy surprise” courtesy of Econet Telecom Lesotho (ETL) on Tuesday with the presentation of blankets and National Basketball Association (NBA) superstar Festus Ezeli-Ndulue.
According to ETL Marketing Officer, Maphunye Putsoa, the gesture was in keeping with the telecommunications giant’s Happy Surprises promotion which seeks to change lives for the better and ends next month.
“The Econet Happy Surprises competition was embarked on to satisfy two elements; firstly, to show appreciation to our valued customers who have been presented with opportunities to win great prizes and uplift their lives. We at Econet have indeed enjoyed giving back to our customers.
“Secondly, the promotion was also aimed at uplifting the vulnerable through the ‘Happy Blanket’ theme which enabled us to donate winter blankets to orphans and vulnerable children in over 10 orphanages,” Ms Putsoa said.
Under the “Happy Blanket” campaign, ETL has been on a drive to donate up to 1 500 blankets countrywide by the end of this month.
The Katlehong-based children’s home is home to 24 youngsters under the age of 15 years and was established in December 2009. The children, who are brought to the centre by the Department of Social Welfare, are released to their relatives once they reach the age of 18 years, but continue receiving donations from the sanctuary.
Mr Ezeli-Ndulue (25) is a Nigerian professional basketball player who currently plays for the Golden State Warriors of the NBA. The United States-based NBA is regarded as the premier men’s professional basketball league in the world.
Mr Ezeli-Ndulue was initially scheduled to visit South Africa only to promote basketball and hold coaching clinics but was brought into Lesotho by ETL on a similar mission.
The NBA superstar was accompanied by members of the Lesotho Basketball Association and helped to distribute some of the blankets to the elated children.
He urged the children to strive for greatness, saying basketball had afforded him an opportunity to assist others.
“Playing basketball has given me an opportunity to inspire change. I know when a lot of people look at me they just see an NBA star but this platform has motivated me to become someone great and hopefully some of the youngsters from this home will someday achieve such greatness,” Mr Ezeli-Ndulue said.
The home’s executive director Mamonyane Mohale expressed gratitude for the blankets and the visit by the famous basketball player.
Ms Mohale co-founded the Ministry of Hope Children’s Home alongside Nancy Dimmock of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America.
She said: “This place is home to over 45 children, 24 of whom are housed here and the remaining 21 are vulnerable children from the neighbouring villages.
“With so many people to care for, the gifts are really appreciated and we are thankful to Econet for bringing them today. “
Despite winter now drawing to a close, Ms Mohale said blankets were a timely gesture which would go a long way in bettering the children’s plight.
“Even if you had brought them during the hottest summer month, they would have been greatly welcomed,” she said.
“We have learnt some hard lessons in the past. We only used to care for only 12 children and had enough blankets and clothes for them. “However, out of nowhere we received 23 more children and found ourselves short of provisions. We are grateful to those who helped us out during those times and we are happy today that Econet has brought us more blankets to keep for any emergencies.”
“We are also grateful to Mr Ezeli-Ndulue and other sports organisations that have often visited the children to instill in them a sense of sportsmanship.”