The National Aids Coordinating Agency (NACA) has collaborated with Botswana Association of the Deaf (BOAD) to explore alternative ways to getting HIV/AIDS education to the deaf community in a way that accommodates their needs.
Nearly 400 000 people in Botswana live with HIV with an estimated prevalence rate of 22.8 percent. Prevention efforts that target HIV- related risk behaviours remain the most effective method of lowering incidence rates and the objective cannot be achieved without sufficient information reaching all members of the community. However, over the years not so much HIV prevention interventions have been made towards integrating deaf persons. With a variety of languages and communication styles employed among people who are deaf, it is important to understand which communication style would be most suitable to the targeted population.
BOAD hopes to develop effective HIV prevention intervention programmes to meet the urgent and unique needs of those who are deaf and hard of hearing. As is true of any culture there are features of deaf culture that can both challenge and support the implementation of HIV prevention interventions. Therefore, community based organisations and peer education of the deaf by the deaf are likely to be an advantageous avenue to use in the development and dissemination of HIV prevention interventions that target persons who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Deaf Federation of South Africa national director, Bruno Druchen who is consulting on this project shared that, amongst other things, the initiative aims to educate the deaf persons about HIV/AIDS as they have been missing on previous messages in the public domain because those campaigns were not designed to accommodate their needs. Druchen said that to date, all empirically validated HIV prevention interventions have relied on communication strategies designed for people who can hear and read spoken language. Therefore, understanding and developing effective prevention methods is crucial for persons who are deaf.
He explained that the main risk factor for HIV infection for deaf people is the lack of access to information. Deaf people, he said, face an information gap at the prevention stage in that one needs proper information in order to know how to avoid infection and deaf persons cannot understand the language used in the mainstream – mass information systems. He indicated that the limited knowledge of how HIV is transmitted may contribute to increased vulnerability to HIV infections among persons who are deaf and hard of hearing.
Selected deaf participants were pulled from different places across the country to be trained as trainers who will then go to their respective villages to educate other deaf community members on HIV/AIDS issues in conjunction with their district health teams.
Druchen indicated that the aim is to have peer-counselors by the deaf to the deaf, where a deaf person will communicate with another deaf person using the language that they both can understand and offer support to one another. Sign language interpreters were also trained on the code of ethics, the behaviour and professionalism of interpreters as these are the people that assist communication flow between the health service providers and the deaf persons. Druchen emphasised that interpreters should understand that their role is to relay the message and not to talk on behalf of the deaf person(s).
He stated that since confidentiality is a key issue in HIV prevention, some clinics and testing centres may not be equipped to deal with deaf persons and hard of hearing persons as they rarely have health care providers who are fluent in sign language and interpreting services are not easily available when needed. This may further marginalise deaf and hard of hearing persons and their access to education on HIV/AIDS, HIV testing and other health issues may be impeded, he warned.
Dr Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi has refuted claims that she is under the radar of the Financial Intelligence Agency. Dr Venson-Moitoi who pulled out of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) presidential race at the eleventh hour, was last week reported to have had her accounts frozen because she was being investigated by FIA.
It was alleged that the freezing of the accounts would have a negative bearing on her campaign as she could not access her funds. Responding to enquiries on the issue during a media briefing in Kang Village, Dr Venson-Moitoi said the allegations were far from the truth.
According to the former cabinet minister, all her accounts were clean and she was accessing her funds without any challenge. “The person who was saying all those things was lying. My accounts are clean as we speak. I was never confronted by FIA or anyone. As far as I know I am not under any investigations,” she said.
Linked to that, it had emerged that Dr Venson-Moitoi’s campaign was being funded from outside the country especially by the some rich families in South Africa. Reports then suggested that her source of funding was blocked through the intervention of FIA, and that even her accounts were frozen. She dismissed the reports as propaganda that was perhaps spread to soil her campaign.
“I am clean. This is why I am never mentioned in missing funds from National Petroleum Fund or those of Capital Management Botswana,” said the Serowe South Member of Parliament. Last month Dr Venson-Moitoi had reported to the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) Director General Peter Magosi that she was not happy that she is being followed around the country by security agents.
Magosi dismissed the claims on grounds that his organisation is not the only one that uses private motor vehicles.
ARRESTED FOR RECKLESS DRIVING
Simba Mooketsi Mampori, 31, of Mbalambi allegedly killed his girlfriend in Bontleng, Gaborone and used her blood to scribble a message on the wall.
The message read, ‘Ke lapisitswe ke maaka’- translated to mean ‘I am tired of lies.’ Matlhogonolo Moshashu’s body was found inside his sister’s rented house in Bontleng.Mampori and Moshashu, 34, had a two year-old child together. Mampori allegedly killed her in March 31 by stabbing her with a screw driver, which was found inside the house. In an interview with The Midweek Sun this week, Otilia Kholiya, one of the tenants in the yard, said that she arrived on that fateful Sunday to find a yellow tape surrounding the yard with the police all over the place.
She said that she was the one who helped with cleaning. “He used her blood and wrote ‘Ke lapile ke maaka.’ I washed all the blood in the house by myself. Although police officers suspect that he used the screw driver they found in the house to kill her, I beg to differ. “That blood was just too much, it must have been something bigger,” she said, adding that they found a new dress that the deceased was going to wear to Mampori’s sister’s baby shower.
Another tenant Nicah Mandefu said that the house belonged to Mampori’s sister and that she rarely slept there and preferred her parents’place in Gaborone. She stated that she saw Mampori with his girlfriend arrive on Saturday around 4pm. “I don’t know him much because the house belongs to his sister. He probably just needed it for the weekend to spend time with his girlfriend who was staying and working outside Gaborone.
“They just greeted me and another tenant as we were sitting in front of our house. They stayed for 30 minutes and left. They would come again around 7pm,” she said. Mandefu said it was the first time she saw the deceased.
Mandefu said that Mampori’s sister arrived on Sunday around 9am, found her house locked and asked about his whereabouts. “She then told me that the lady he was with was actually his girlfriend and mother of his child,” she said. After some time, the sister returned to tell them that she received a report to say Mampori was found in Mmankgodi where he had tried to hang himself on a tree after killing Mashashu.
Upon failing to kill himself, he drove off recklessly at high speed, thus catching the attention of the police who stopped and charged him with reckless driving. “The police then noticed that he was not well as he had bruises from trying to kill himself. He could not even speak to the police but wrote down his mother’s phone number and gave them the keys to the sister’s house.
“They then took him to Thamaga Primary Hospital to be attended for his wounds on the neck, and later the police called his family and finally drove together to Bontleng where they found his girlfriend dead inside the sister’s house,” the neighbour tenant narrated to The Midweek Sun.
According to Botswana Police Service Deputy Public Relations Senior Superintendent Near Bagali, Mampori is also linked to another murder that occurred on 26 March in Gaborone in which a 39-year old woman from Molepolole was found with stab wounds.
At the time of his arrest, Mampori was awaiting trial for two murder cases committed in Mahalapye and Gaborone in 2016 and 2017 respectively. The deceased were his girlfriends. He was arraigned before Extension 2 Magistrate Court last Wednesday. He is incarcerated and expected back in court on April 17.
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