Transformation Story: A HERO’S JOURNEY
Born in 1978, Lehlohonolo Moses Letsoalo grew up in the deprived township of Atteridgeville through 16 years of apartheid.
“I remember curfews, police breaking down doors into houses, and countless acts of violence that doubtlessly seriously affected my childhood development. With this background it seemed a natural progression for me to turn to crime, violence and drugs. At the age of 13 I was serving the first of 13 custodial sentences, and at 15 I joined the infamous prison gang
When he was 23 Moses began to work as a drug mule for a large syndicate based in Johannesburg. Making four to five trips a year, he thought he was living the high life. But when he was caught smuggling 60kg of Marijuana into Heathrow Airport in 2008, it was an experience that changed his life completely. He served two years in Her Majesty’s Prison Wormwood Scrubs, received training and accredited qualifications in Life Skills, Health and Safety in the Workplace, and furniture
“Two years in prison, away from my wife and infant daughter, having to deal with the heart-breaking experience of explaining on the phone why Daddy couldn’t come home, not even for a day, was what helped me finally begin to understand the damage I had done to other people’s lives.”
When he was released and returned to South Africa he was a “man on a mission” to make a genuine, positive difference in his community. Inspired by a desire to reverse his previously destructive and harmful influence, he founded an NPO called Aga Sechaba (“Build the nation”), which focusses on drug awareness campaigns.
“I wanted to build, rather than destroy”. Seven years later Moses is a role model in his community. He is a national public speaker and serves on a number of committees, working in consultation with senior government officials. He runs a successful community building business enterprise and oversees the running of Aga Sechaba, which serves thousands of drug addicts in his community.
Khulisa Social Solutions provided Aga Sechaba with professional mentoring services and helped to formalize its organisational governance structures.
“My relationship with Khulisa, my most trusted NPO, has provided many opportunities for my organisation to generate income, for our participants to be up-skilled, and for our profile to be heightened.”
In 2014 he was awarded Most Inspiring Person on a six-month Leadership Development course through Common Purpose (www.commonpurpose.org.za) which was hosted around South Africa in different communities.
He was also selected to represent South Africa in Rajasthan, India on a Leaders Quest (www.leadersquest.com) in November 2014, where 120 leaders from around the country exchanged leadership qualities.
“I believe I am living proof that crime and drugs can be beaten against all odds.”
THE PROGRAMME: AGA SECHABA Founded in 2009, Aga Sechaba is an NPO focused on fighting the increasingly damaging effects of drugs in Moses’s hometown of Atteridgeville.
The organisation provides rehabilitation and treatment programmes for both alcohol and drug abuse, as well as recreational opportunities to ensure prevention of addiction.
Aga Sechaba promotes four junior soccer teams, two netball teams and a cycling team. Community support in skills development extends to Maths and Science support for high school learners; a film development project; and an orphanage home that caters for 23 orphans between the ages of 1 and Aga Sechaba has received no external funding during its 5-year existence. Moses made the decision to open up his own businesses in order to provide funding streams for the NPO. This led to the founding of Aga Sechaba Trading Enterprise, a construction company, and Letsohlo Communication and Stationery Supply, which supplies corporates and government departments with office stationery and computer peripherals.
These companies not only provide Moses with the income necessary to continue to personally fund Aga Sechaba Community Projects, but have also provided paying jobs and skills development for out-of-school youths and former offenders and addicts.
At present, Letsohlo employs six permanent staff, while Aga Sechaba Trading Enterprise employs up to thirty people depending on the contract they’re working on.
Today Aga Sechaba Community Projects is an accredited outpatient treatment centre for the Department of Social Development and the Department of Correctional Services. It has branches in four provinces: Gauteng (Garankuwa, Winterveld, Atteridgeville and Pretoria CBD), Northwest (Brits), Limpopo (Tzaneen and Seshego) and Mpumalanga (Kwa-Ndebele).
The organisation is in partnership with SANCA (www.sancanational.org) for cross referrals of support services for young addicts.
Khulisa includes professional monitoring and evaluation in all projects to report back on the achievements and constantly improve all interventions.