Our History

Rutanang Community Foundation (RCF), a Lesotho based NGO, has been a goal of RCF’s co-founder, Tseli Downard’s. Tseli was raised in rural Nk’hu-Nk’hu, Lesotho, but she wanted to better her future through a higher education. Through hard work and perseverance Tseli furthered her education in Cape Town. With two degrees in hand (undergraduate and honours) in hand, Tseli was now equipped with the knowledge to help her home village of Nk’hu Nk’hu. She worked with her husband, Rory Downard, and Dawn Marais to start building her contacts and practical skills to return home and help break the cycle of poverty. Through networking and personal sacrifice Rutanang Community Foundation was formed.

The village of Nk’hu-Nk’hu is struggling with many challenges such as poverty, orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs), malnutrition and HIV/AIDS. After analyzing the many issues the community was/is facing RCF settled on a mission statement focused on children and adolescents in the village. This idea to focus on children and adolescents came from a desire to change the cultural norm that children are seen and not heard. In September 2013, Tseli and Rory started traveling back and forth between Cape Town, South Africa and Nk’hu-Nk’hu, Lesotho during the holidays to run children/youth focused, life-skills holiday clubs. After traveling over 1000 kilometers multiple times, the couple decided the most efficient way to help the village of Nk’hu-Nk’hu would be to live and work in Lesotho and in 2015 they made the move. Since their move from Cape Town to Lesotho Tseli and Rory have started numerous projects, spreading knowledge, skills and hope along the way. Everything they do is through faith and the transforming power of their personal relationships with Jesus Christ.

RCF’s vision is to bring hope and transformation to the rural areas of Mohale’s Hoek district. We appreciate our friends and family who have supported us from the beginning and we hope you become a friend of RCF in the future, be it through volunteerism or funding.

Why Lesotho?

Lesotho, with a population of 2 million, is one of the countries in Africa facing a devastating impact of HIV and AIDS. The disease has left many children orphaned because of the premature deaths of their parents. This has caused the up and coming generation to grow up without parents. There is a huge need for rural community organizations that aim to educate, support and empower Basotho children and youth with skills that would enable them to overcome their despair.

Why Nk'hu-Nk'hu Village?

Nk’hu-Nk’hu village is in the Mohales’ Hoek district of Lesotho, which is located in the south western corner of the country. Because this is where Tseli grew up, she already understands the culture and the immense challenges the people face, having experienced the devastation of family members infected with HIV/AIDS, teenage pregnancy and unemployment. In her village, traditional family systems have been broken down due poor socio economic prospects of Lesotho, causing many able-bodied adults seeking employment in South Africa, and further eroded by the death of family members to AIDS. Many of these adults were the sole providers for their families. Children are left behind to fend for themselves, often emotionally and spiritually crippled. This leaves the children vulnerable to abuse, human trafficking and always to poverty.

Nk’hu-Nk’hu village has no social or health services, no public meeting places, no churches, no running water and only recently has limited access to electricity. During droughts, which occur frequently, villagers wake up before dawn to walk long distances to collect water for their families.

Yet, the children are extremely responsive to the work that Tseli and Rory have been doing there, walking long distances to attend Holiday clubs and participate in any other activities RCF offers.