PEKA project LesothoLesotho is a very poor country completely surrounded by South Africa. Because of devastating HIV, there are many orphans in the country. A member of Bowen Rotary, Matthew Harrison, is our club’s champion for the PEKA project to develop a new orphanage for the left-out children over 5-years-old.

Matthew has visited the Beautiful Gate Orphanage in Lesotho and discovered that it is very well-run it and provides a secure and caring facility for very young children up to five years old. Now, in order to develop a facility for children older than six years, Beautiful Gate has acquired land and is raising money for this new project called PEKA. At this site they will be able to provide a developmental program for children with special needs. Peka will provide the means to give the un-adopted children of Lesotho a chance at a successful, healthy, and happy life — and a way for them to help re-invest and build their country.

This project is bigger than can be managed by just The Rotary Club of Bowen Island. During the past year Matthew has been talking to many other Rotary clubs and potential supporters. If you, or your group would like to be part of the growing movement for this most worthy project, we would like to hear from you.

Here, in Matthew’s own words, is his story:

The tiny African nation of Lesotho is deeply implanted in my heart. It is the country of my second son and is in my thoughts often. Now, the future of Lesotho has become my passion.

Adoption had been our plan for years. Our family was matched with a little boy just before Christmas, 2019. The paperwork was completed — and he was officially our adopted son — three days after Southern Africa closed their borders to travel because of COVID-19.

We waited anxiously for seven months.

Finally, Lesotho and South Africa briefly dropped their travel restrictions. One day later, I flew into Johannesburg, crossed the border into Lesotho, and the next day met my boy.

The plan had always been for our entire family to go meet our new son, spend quality time together as a united family, travel together and bond. COVID-19 changed all that. There were so many unknowns about travel. We felt it safer and more realistic that I would go alone and bring our boy home. My new son and I lived together for a month both in Lesotho and then in Johannesburg, waiting on visas and travel documents before we finally flew home.

In our time together in Lesotho, my boy and I had a spectacular time — getting to know each other and getting to know his country. We were absolutely spoiled: with the travel restrictions, there were absolutely no foreigners in the country at all and we got to meet so many of the locals and really discover the country.

Here are some of the things that affected me the most:

  • The tiny nation of Lesotho is a survivor.
  • It has maintained its independence through colonialism and stayed separate from South Africa, particularly through the Apartheid era.
  • The people are generous, open-hearted and absolutely welcoming
  • the country is very, very poor.

Beautiful Gate, having acquired land, is planning to extend its care to unadopted children, 6 – 18 years old, and those with special needs. PEKA plans to give these children a permanent home where they will be educated and taught skills. Building on the project cannot commence until the property is fenced and water sourced via borehole.

Through fundraising projects, private donations and a very generous District grant, our Rotary club has almost raised sufficient funds to provide materials for fencing the property, and providing the borehole, pump water tank and stand.