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“The time I spent with LNFOD gave me the opportunity to see a different way to do business”

Emma Biraghi

Don’t tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you have traveled”.

This sentence from prophet Muhammad has always inspired me, even if I’m not particularly attached to religion, this specific one touches my soul since I heard about it, probably more than ten years ago. My parents instilled the love for travel in me since I was a child and as soon, I was “old” enough to travel by myself I immediately took the opportunity.

I am Emma Biraghi, a 20-years-old Italian woman and unlike all other people that had an experience with rise, I’m not an architecture student. I’m an Italian student of international politics and law and I wanted to do a voluntary experience during summer. The problem was that no organization gave me the possibility to go so far from home at such a young age; however, rise trusted me and, thanks to the fact that I knew the architect Luca Astorri, I managed to do this incredible experience.

When I booked the flight tickets I was scared out of my wits, I understood that I was about to actually go to Lesotho and the dream was becoming true. It was not only my first time in Africa, but also my first trip without my family nor my friends: I would have been completely alone. Fortunately, Daniela and Luca greeted me with open arms and the reality was not that scary. 

I stayed in Maseru for two weeks, but those days were sufficient to make me fall in love with Lesotho: definitely one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been.

I left the hot Italian summer for winter, which probably is the thing I liked less about Lesotho; however, it gave me the opportunity to see some spectacular views from mountains and go horse-riding to see dinosaur footprints!

Apart from the beautifulness of the place itself, my voluntary experience was great too. Since I am not an architecture student, I worked with a partner of rise: Lesotho National Federation of Organisations of the Disabled (LNFOD) , an umbrella body that advocates for the human rights of persons with disabilities by representing their needs to government, private sector, and the entire community.

The time I spent with LNFOD gave me the opportunity to see a different way to do business: we’re used to imagining business meetings as a group of serious people with suit and tie, but in Lesotho things are different. I participated in a meeting for a microcredit project for women with disabilities in business and the most amazing thing to see was that everybody had the traditional clothes of the Sesotho culture, and they were singing the traditional songs, playing instruments and dancing during break time. This way of doing business shows a strong attachment with the tradition and the community that we lack in Western culture, especially in Milan, where I’m from. 

The Basotho society are more traditional, they have such a strong and powerful connection with their community, they have great faith in the world, and they express that by contributing to the growth of their society; for a city dweller like me was incredible to have a contact with a sense of belonging that I never experienced in such a strong way.

Another thing that was unbelievable was the strong contact with nature: Maseru, the capital of Lesotho, is a small city where cows and sheep cross the road with the people! There are many huge parks and in 10 minutes by car from the center it is possible to reach the mountains and the spectacular views that they offer. I strongly believe that the closeness to nature is one of the main reasons why Sesotho people always smile and are so kind, just imagine that they say “Hello! How are you?” to every person they meet in the street.

Leaving Lesotho, I was surely a bit heartbroken, but I’m grateful to have discovered their social connection, which I hope I’ll keep with me now that I’m in Italy. Going on the opposite side of the globe totally shifted my way of looking at the world and opened my mind to visit many more places where I can discover a new perspective, as it happened in Maseru with rise International family.

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