Botswana: BCC Caters for Street Children
Mmegi/The Reporter (Gaborone)
29 May 2008
Posted to the web 29 May 2008
The number of street children in Gaborone has compelled the Botswana Council of Churches (BCC) to propose programmes to help them become part of the society.
The street children, according to BCC general secretary, David Modiega, are dropouts from primary up to senior secondary schools.
He said one of the reasons why these children are giving of why they have left school are, difficulties in understanding some subjects especially mathematics while others just left without any problems.
The organisation developed street vocational programmes such as re-education where they are taught construction, carpentry, social studies, computers, English and mathematics. lessons are done at Tsholofelong Project situated at Old Naledi.
Modiega told Mmegi that they have at least 56 children who are going through these programmes.
There are eight girls and 48 boys from Old Naledi.
He said the programme is aimed at encouraging them to go back to school to continue where they left off. Apart from the re-education component, Modiega said they rehabilitate students from drugs and re-integrate them into the society and "their parents".
"We are also imparting fund raising skills to them where we encourage them to save by helping them to open accounts at post offices," noted Modiega, adding BCC users Marimba instruments to raise funds.
However, the BCC spokesperson revealed that not all children are willing to go back to school as some fear stigma from their colleagues. "Stigma attached to them is that they are called ‘bo bashi’ and things like they are the BCC children," said Modiega.
To avoid this stigma, he told Mmegi that students should instead go to schools where they are not known and "they excel".
Meanwhile, Modiega said they are not indoctrinating the street children into any religion, but they are just doing their social responsibility programme as the churches. He also said it is difficult to convenience them (street children) about their programmes as they are used to the life of the street. "We have to first develop trust with them and propose to them nicely," he noted.
Modiega revealed that they have young people within their staff members who are helping in the recruitment exercise. He said as young people they have what it takes to talk to the street children and develop some form of friendship with them.
"We have to have a lot of patience as sometimes they run away when approached," said Modiega.
BCC also is developing their plot in Tsolamosese where they will build a hall and two classrooms for carpentry for girls. "Livestock and horticulture are some of the projects we will include at this plot," note Modiega.
The funds they are using for their Tsholofelong project are from Botswana National Youth Council (BNYC), Department of Culture and Youth (DCY) and rentals they get from Kopano building.
In other issues, Modiega told Monitor that before they parted ways with a Dutch NGO, ICCO, a few years ago, they managed to build approximately 50 two-roomed houses for families in Old Naledi.
He said their agreement with ICCO fell apart when Botswana was declared a middle income country "but we are looking at reviving the programme. We have identified OIKCREDIT Programme International for assistance".
OIKCREDIT is an international cooperation of churches which funds projects like "the one we used to build houses for the needy people. If funds could come through, we will want them to revolve so that more people can benefit".