LINK Anniversary Visit
As part of the 25th Anniversary celebrations of the Durham-Lesotho LINK, a group of Basotho people from various parts of Lesotho have arrived in Durham Diocese. During their stay in the Diocese, our Basotho friends will be visiting each of the Deaneries for an evening presentation. In their own inimitable style the group (working in 3 teams) will present an evening of powerpoint slides about Lesotho and the LINK and will share their stories through words and their wonderful singing. The Basotho will also be visiting schools, Mothers Union groups, and various churches during their two week stay.
The photograph (right) shows the excitement of some members of the group having arrived at Newcastle airport on the morning of Friday 25th February.
After a welcome lunch the group were taken to see the Angel of the North (see photograph below). Then on Saturday 26th February a visit to Auckland Castle was arranged.
On Sunday 27th February, each member of the group enjoyed worship with their hosts. The pictures show a group taking part in the Eucharist at St Peter's Church in Stockton and another group in their traditional blankets giving a presentation at St Catherine's Church in Crook.
After the weekend, the programme continued with visits to various schools in the Diocese. Then each evening there were presentations to Deaneries, with the group being split into 3 so as to give as many people as possible an opportunity to meet with some of them, hear their stories and, of course, listen to their wonderful singing.
Pictured (left) is one of the small groups singing at Holy Trinity church, Seaton Carew during their presentation to Hartlepool Deanery. During the evening Rob Bianchi, who is one of the LINK’s Executive Officers, gave an overview of some of the work the LINK is currently engaged in. Rob also interivewed members of the group about their work and the challenges facing them at home in Lesotho (see photographs below).
Pictured (above left) is Rob with John Mahooana, a member of the staff of the St James Hospital at Mantsonyane, who spoke about the desperately critical situation of having no drugs or medication with which to treat their patients; (above right) is M'me Karabo Baatjies, the wife of the Dean of Maseru, who spoke about being a wife and mother and especially being the wife of a priest in Lesotho Diocese; and (right) is Ts'eliso Monaphathi, a High Court Judge, who has recently been appointed as Chancellor of the Diocese. He spoke about the increasing crime rate, due in part to poverty and the global recession which is having quite a dramatic effect on this already poor country.
The following day the group spent the day in Hartlepool visiting various schools, including St Hild's Church of England Secondary School. Pictured (left) are some of the group being asked some very searching questions by three year 7 students. This was part of a project they are involved in, sponsored by the BBC, where they have to conduct interviews which are recorded on video.
On Saturday 5th March the whole group gathered at the Cathedral for a special guided tour. They were split into two groups but not until they had all been out onto Palace Green to see their national flag being hoisted on the Cathedral tower. This was a very moving occasion with the Basotho immediately responding by singing their national anthem. They then posed for the group photograph (right). During the tour, Lilian Groves, one of the Cathedral guides, took her group to St Cuthbert's shrine where she said a special pilgrimage prayer. Another very moving occasion.
Later that same day, the Cathedral played host to the LINK's 25th Anniversary service.
The service began in typical Lesotho style with the group of Basotho singing a hymn as they danced, almost in slow motion, down the aisle (left). This was followed by a welcome from the Dean and a very stirring message from King Letse delivered by his brother, the Lesotho High Commissioner, Prince Seiso. The service also included more singing from the Basotho, as well as Bishop Adam of Lesotho preaching. Also taking part was Peter Green, who was largely responsible for the setting up of the LINK 25 years ago. Peter read the first reading from Deuteronomy. Prayers were led by Margaret Bianchi (LINK Executive Officer with her husband Rob) and Stephen Mabula (the LINK's Executive Officer in Lesotho) The Eucharist was celebrated by Bishop Mark.
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