Zula grew up in the Quthing SOS Children’s Village in Lesotho. Today she’s studying tourism management. A delegation from SWISS and SOS Children’s Villages met this impressive young woman when they came to visit their joint Lesotho project. The group included two cabin crew members, who are so vital to the success of SWISS’s change collections aloft.
Suddenly the tears come. Zula is holding the October 2017 SWISS Magazine in her hands for the first time. Fascinated, she reads the lines about her own life. And realises just how many people must have learned of her deeply moving story. Twenty-year-old Zula is an orphan. After a childhood blighted by adversities, she was taken into an SOS Children’s Village. Her life there with her new family gave her a daily routine, educational opportunities, medical care and financial support. And, not least through all of this, she’s now en route to success. We’ve come with Zula to visit the SOS Children’s Village in Quthing, in the south of Lesotho. The village was founded in 2010, and is invitingly located amid gently rolling hills. Zula grew up in one of the twelve family houses here. Talking softly, she guides us through the simply furnished rooms. In the kitchen hangs the handwritten meal plan for the week: Today it’s cornmeal pap and vegetables fresh from the garden. “I always love coming here and helping my Mama cook,” Zula says. “Mama” is not her bio logic al mother but the woman who raised her, together with seven other children, in the house they all lived in within the Quthing village. Zula proudly shows us the trophies and the medallions that she won for her outstanding school achievements. The alarm clock would ring at 5 a.m. back then, and bedtime was 9 p.m. She shared her bedroom with three other girls. And did everyone settle down peacefully as soon as “lights out” was ordered? “Of course!” Zula grins.
Studies in the capital
Zula is currently on vacation from her studies: She’s only here at the SOS Children’s Village in a visiting capacity. She lives in shared accommodation in Lesotho’s capital Maseru where she’s been studying tourism management for a year and a half now. “What I’m looking for now,” Zula explains, “is an internship. I need to spend six months as an intern as part of my studies.” Such placements are hard to find in Lesotho, which has a youth unemployment rate of almost 40 Percent. The country is one of the world’s poorest, with almost half the population living in poverty according to the UN Development Programme. Zula is optimistic, though. “Maybe my internship will be my way into a career,” she says. That career she clearly sees in the tourism sector. Her biggest dream is to one day work above the clouds. “If you’re a flight attendant, it’s all about the hospitality,” she enthuses. “Looking after your guests, and giving them help and advice. I love doing that. And I want to travel, too!” The tears are dry now. The article has brought back big and emotional moments in Zula’s young but eventful life. She’s smiling again. And proud of what she’s achieved.
Text: Florian Flämig / Photos: Simon Huber