Exercise Lesotho Tiger

African Adventure for Cadet Sgt Beckley!

Recently Maidstone Cadet Jess Beckley had the chance of a lifetime and took part  in an African project to help those less privileged than her.

The Charity, Sentebale – founded by Prince Harry and Prince Seeiso of Lesotho – gave her the opportunity to join a charitable trip to work with disadvantaged children including orphans and those affected by HIV and blindness. The two week trip saw Jessica and other young people work with the charity by building bridges, painting and providing other voluntary services to help the local people, and also spend time learning about animal conservation. Read on to hear about Jessica’s story.

Exercise Lesotho Tiger – by Jess Beckley

As we arrive in Johannesburg airport reality kicked in and we suddenly realised the depth of what we were going to be doing out there. A new country with a completely diverse culture none of us had experienced before.

The first few days were relaxed, getting to know the team and forming new relationships with Army Cadets from all over the country. We were on the beach, swimming and snorkelling, admiring the amazing wildlife at the nature reserve including zebra, crocodiles, eagles, hippos and had a very lucky encounter with a leopard. The list of magical sights is endless!

Entering the Kingdom of Lesotho was a shock for all of us, at first it was hard to accept the poverty that surrounded us but we soon realised the lifestyle was a day to day reality for the people.

Our group was situated in Maseru, the capital city; we stayed in a school run by Catholic nuns for disabled and less advantaged children. Our jobs involved painting murals and helping with the day to day running of the school.

Seven cadets including myself then travelled six and a half hours to a small tribal village called Pulane which was to be our home for the next week, our home was an orphanage. It was here I met an English missionary who has worked all over Africa and learnt about her stories of hardship, famine and poverty.

I witnessed firsthand the physical effects of AIDs and the devastating effect that this has on young people. I learnt a lot from these children, despite the tough experiences they had been through in their short lives – the smiles on their faces made it all worthwhile.

I realised that religion really does give the people hope for the future and although harsh times are ahead, they could always rely on the warmth and kindness offered within the orphanage walls.

We painted the children’s rooms and new beds, attended church services each morning and  played football with the locals overall the experience was life changing, I wish I had the money to go back the children will all be in our hearts forever and I loved every moment of my experience.


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