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Depression survivor tells the story

Yvonne Mooka

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HAPPIER TIMES: Keneo lost her husband only eight months after marriage

One moment, Keneo Bonang’s husband was dropping their daughter at school in the morning, and the next moment he was reported dead, killed by petty thieves for his mobile phone and wallet.

On that fateful Thursday in 2014, Bonang 31 says she received a call from her man around 6pm telling her that he had run out of petrol near Grand Palm hotel in Mogoditshane. She would ask if he needed her to bring him some, and he told her he would ask colleagues.

Then he became impatient, she says, and walked to a nearby fuel station. It was then that two young men attacked him, and stabbed him. In an interview with The Midweek Sun, Bonang however says she did not find out immediately that her husband had been murdered.

“I called and called him but he didn’t answer the phone. Around 2am, she’d call her sister as she was now getting worried. It was only when I arrived at my sister’s house that our other sister called us with a suspicious tone, asking where Kabo, my husband, then 36, was.

Upon driving to her house, a security guard told us people had gathered in the house and that, “it looks like someone is dead,” she said, and that is when she received the sad news. Bonang says that losing her husband only eight months after their wedding took a toll on her.

They were still in a honeymoon phase, and again, she found out a day after his funeral that she was pregnant with their second child. “I didn’t know that ‘till death do us part’ would mean eight months. I became a widow instantly,” she says.

Her church, Seventh Day Adventist immediately started counselling her the day she lost her husband, something she is thankful for. Her take is that widows need counselling as soon as the news of their husbands’ death breaks.

She says that the most difficult processes are identifying the deceased at the mortuary, arrival of the body at home (Kgoroso), being told to sleep next to the coffin and when the coffin goes down the grave. “Especially if the death was tragic, you can lose your mind because of trauma. You need to be counselled early,” she says. I became a tragic widow’

Bonang was on a teaching contract and it had come to an end a month before her husband’s death. She says that between 2014 and 2017 January, she sunk into deep depression. She moved back to her mother’s house in Maun. “I was incredibly overwhelmed, shocked, traumatised and deeply saddened.

All of the emotional stress and pain resulted in physical ailment and pain.I had pain everywhere – legs, feet, ears, arms, and this excruciating pain wouldn’t stop. I had body tremors,” she says, adding that the neurologist had thought she had Multiple Sclerosis, an incurable condition which presented the aforementioned symptoms.

She says that her BOMAID medical fund was depleted in a space of seven months, and she had to use her cash or go to Princess Marina hospital. After the baby arrived, she was diagnosed with Psycho-somatic disorder, which involves both mind and body.

It is thought to be particularly vulnerable to mental factors such as stress and anxiety. She would then start counselling with a psychologist whom she says was very good. She also shares that at one point she tried a life of clubbing and drinking to escape the grief. ‘I beat depression’

After moving from the house she shared with her husband in 2015, Bonang says she decided this year in January to move back in and to start afresh with her two children.
She says that this Tuesday morning her young daughter came to her asking where her father was and wanted to confirm if he was dead as her older sister had told her.

“I had to take the bull by the horn. It has happened and I have accepted that I have lost my husband. He was a sweet, loving and kind man and we loved each other deeply. But I have to face it and can’t grieve forever,” she says.

She advises young married women to ensure they are financially sound and to invest so that life does not end when their husbands pass. Other than being an administrator at Bokamoso Private Hospital, Bonang also runs a pre-school in Maun.

But is she dating? She laughs it off, saying that she is safeguarding her children and that if she finds someone, she will only introduce him to her children after he has paid Bogadi (marriage price) for her. Meanwhile, her husband’s killers are still at large.

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Botswana urged to sign Maputo

Keletso Thobega

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Botswana is one of the five countries that have been advised to sign the Maputo Protocol. Botswana, Egypt and Morocco are the only three African countries that have not signed this Protocol. Adopted in 2003 and implemented in 2005, the Maputo Protocol is a ground-breaking protocol on women and girls’ human rights, both within Africa and beyond.

It compensates for the shortcomings in the 1981 African Charter with respect to women and girls rights. It includes 32 articles on women and girls’ rights, and also provides an explicit definition of discrimination against women, which was missing in the African Charter.

The Maputo Protocol defines discrimination as “any distinction, exclusion or restriction or any differential treatment based on sex and whose objectives or effects compromise or destroy the recognition, enjoyment or the exercise by women, regardless of their marital status, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in all spheres of life.”

The State of African Women Report 2018 stipulates that more still needs to be done to implement laws and commitments to the rights of women and girls in African societies. While there has been significant improvements in addressing issues affecting women and girls over the years, the report notes that commitment to girls and women’s right is still lagging behind.

The report highlights that:
“Three in five countries in Africa do not criminalise rape, young women aged 15-24 in sub-Saharan Africa are 2.5 times more likely to be infected by HIV in comparison to men in the same age group, more than half of maternal deaths worldwide occur in sub-Saharan Africa and that gender based violence and sexual assault still affects women more”.

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Mama Rampa, the Good

Yvonne Mooka

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NOBLE CALLING: Martha Rampa on a mission to rescue the underprivileged

Martha Rampa, project manager at AAP Home Based Care and Family Life Programme quit her nursing job over ten years ago to attend to the needs of orphans, poor and sick.

AAP has 3119 orphans and underprivileged children from South East, Kweneng, Kanye and Kgalagadi districts. The Non-Governmental Organisation aims at supporting, providing food, clothing, shelter, education, nursing care, counselling and supporting destitute, terminally ill patients and orphaned children.

According to Rampa, the thrust of the practice is the link between the patient and the clinical management services. “It is a person-centred approach, which ensures that patients receive the appropriate service in a supportive and effective manner. Destitute and orphaned children have over time become integral part AAP programmes,” she said.

Last Saturday, she organised an appreciation dinner for donors. It was a colourful event where beneficiaries had also come to testify about the way their lives have changed since they were enrolled.

One of the young girls said that she had given up on life as she was from a poor family. The under 15 girl said that through AAP, she managed to continue and is exceling at school. A young man under 20 said that he was moved from a settlement where he could not focus on his studies because of his family background.

AAP put him through a different school that has boarding. “At AAP, we call her mama Rampa. She is our mother and we are so blessed to have her,” he said at the event in Gaborone.

The primary aim of AAP is to rehabilitate and develop children in difficult circumstances such as orphaned children, street children, economically poor and socially oppressed children and work for the eradication of child labour and child exploitation.

Rampa said the vision is to help and give many more children a real and loving home which helps them to live and grow up to be free, healthy and independent individuals; to influence behavioural change of individuals, especially those in the realm of sex and family life and to introduce a change that will bring a transformation, which alleviates the impact of HIV/Aids infection and stops the spread of the virus within the community.

She said there were local companies that had committed themselves to giving the children food after every two weeks. Through her gift of counselling, she also assists with providing emotional and spiritual support including counselling to orphans, destitute, terminally ill and the poor. She also prays for them.

She said that since the project started in 2000, the focus was on the care of HIV/AIDS patients. Volunteers were trained to take care of terminally ill patients in their homes. “Due to lack of funds in supporting the volunteers, for three years only 45 were full time serving in the project with great results.

“A networking relationship was established with Ministry of Health/AIDS department and Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs as well as other NGOs like BOCAIP, Clinics around Gaborone and Church leaders. We effectively communicated our mission to our leaders like Counsellors, Members of Parliament and diKgosi in the areas where we are operating,” she said.

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