This post by Reid
This is the first entry in what we hope to make an occasional feature of this blog: the staff profile. For the most part, this blog chronicles our perspectives and experiences as Americans working and living in Lesotho. But we are just temporary fixtures here at TTL. The real work is carried out by the remarkable staff, a group of 30 Basotho men and women who are on the front lines of TTL’s mission. These are the folks who change the diapers, feed the kids, drive the cars, visit kid’s on outreach, and counsel pregnant women in villages. They are also our friends and colleagues – the people who welcomed us as temporary residents of Mokhotlong, wave at us when we conspicuously walk down the street, and provide us with explanations when we are clueless. They are leading TTL to confront the challenges in their own community, and doing one hell of a job.
It seems only appropriate that the first staff profile on this blog should be of Nthabeleng Lephoto, who is the managing director, lifeblood, and spirit of TTL. Her life-story would make for a compelling triple-decker novel, an African rags-to-riches story that Horatio Alger couldn’t have dreamt up. But until Bridget gets a book deal, a blog post will have to do. So here we go…
Name: Nthabeleng Lephoto
Position: Managing Director
Height: 4’9 (this is not a joke)
Vertical: 13 feet (this is)
Family: Nthabeleng is a single-mother of 2. Her son, Neo, is 14 and her daughter, Retselisetsoe, is 6.
Nthabeleng is the prime-mover behind TTL. As managing director, she oversees all aspects of the organization and is responsible for everything from interfacing with international donors in Maseru to making medical decisions for children under our care. She supervises the entire staff of 30, makes sure all the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed in our accounting system, and is also a great dancer.
But Nthabeleng’s most impressive characteristic is her deep commitment to the children in TTL’s care. Managing an organization like TTL, she faces pain, tragedy, and life-or-death decisions nearly every day. And while she handles these situations with the steadiness and aplomb of a pro, you always know that she still feels deeply for each child. She manages to resist numbness in an environment that is numbing. All of TTL’s kids benefit because of this.
Nthabeleng’s compassion and commitment to each kid have especially benefited her daughter, Retselisitsoe. Retselisitsoe was one of the first kids that TTL ever cared for, arriving at TTL just a few months old after surviving a harrowing first few months of life. When it became clear that there was no one to take care of Retselisitsoe, Nthabeleng adopted her and has cared for her over the last 6 years as her own.
If her compassion and commitment are her most defining traits, her leadership skills are no less impressive. Nthabeleng manages people like she was born to do it. When she speaks, the staff listens. When she needs something done, it gets done. She doesn’t need a MBA, because she’s a NBA: natural bad @$$.
Bonus material: For a considerably funnier, but no less true account of Nthabeleng, check out what our friend Will wrote about Nthabeleng on his blog: http://williamtmcgrath.wordpress.com/2008/11/30/the-graduation-of-retselisitsoe-moeletsi/
The TTLF Fellow is a representative of the North American organisation The Tiny Lives Foundation. Based for one year in Mokhotlong, Lesotho, the TTLF Fellow serves in an administrative support capacity for the Basotho charity TTL.