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Dare to dream: the story of Bakang Molefi

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Bakang Dithapeo Molefi, 20, is the perfect embodiment of resilience. Here’s a young man that has defied all adversities to become the master of his Fate. Purposeful and self-driven, Bakang is confident of a bright future ahead of him, as he embarks on a life-changing educational odyssey that began in 2016, when his mentor – Thabo Botshelo, a Social Worker at SOS Serowe – chanced upon an advertisement for scholarship in a local daily newspaper. The advertisement was for applications for the Ashinaga Africa Initiative – an academic leadership programme targeting orphaned students from 25 Sub-Saharan African countries to help them access international higher education so that they can contribute to global development.

As one of the over 100 orphans and vulnerable children placed at the SOS Serowe, Bakang sprung up with excitement, his eyes dazzling with prospects when Botshelo dared him to apply for the scholarship. He did not consider his personal tragedy of losing both parents at a tender age, an inhibiting factor. In fact, he was emboldened by his station in life, a character trait Botshelo affirms of Bakang. He knew that unlike other children that have the luxury of being raised by one or two parents, he had to work extra hard to realise his dreams. And big dreams, they were.

That same week in 2016 he applied and it took a few months to receive feedback and he was called with four other candidates for interview at the Embassy of Japan in Gaborone in April 2017. He was selected and invited for a six-month study camp in Uganda, where he was drilled on the processes of applying for University. Yoshihiro Imamura, Director Ashinaga Uganda was in Botswana last week with colleague, Sarah Bourenane Staff member of Ashinaga USA and also a former Ashinaga Intern to conduct a screening process of the 100-Year Vision Scholarship Programme for 2018 candidates.

In an interview with The Sun, Imamura said they were in the country to interview the five shortlisted students from which only one candidate (an orphan) will be selected for placement in a University of his/her choice. He said this year 2800 applications were received from the 25 sub Saharan countries participating in the programme. Bourenane explained that Ashinaga – a Japan-based NGO that has supported over 95,000 orphans in the last 45 years, follows a strict criterion – candidates must be orphans of 17 to 22 years and must commit to return to their home countries upon completion of their studies. If an applicant fits this bill and passes the document screening and interviews, he/she is then admitted into the programme. She said they had received a total 50 applicants from Botswana out of which only 26 were eligible.

On Friday The Midweek Sun met some of the shortlisted candidates that had gathered at the embassy for screening. They expressed a burning desire to be selected. At the same meeting, Bakang Molefi, the Thamaga-born lad who did his junior secondary at Ramlokgonami JSS and then went to complete his senior secondary at Lotsane SSS (2015 – 2016) was present to prepare for his next mission –a preparatory camp in Uganda that starts in May. Bakang was placed at SOS Serowe in 2008 after due diligence performed by social workers. According to his mentor, Botshelo, he is a hard worker, a resilient person that perseveres against life’s adversities and a fearless fighter that will not be deterred from achieving his dreams.

Botshelo is elated that Ashinaga selected Bakang from his SOS in Serowe, adding that Bakang’s brother was also selected in 2017 through Government’s Top Achievers programme for placement with a UK-based University. In an interview Bakang said he is going to study Digital Arts in a US University majoring in Animation with a minor in Business Management and Entrepreneurship. When he comes back hopefully after four years of study, he intends to promote awareness in the country and eventually set up his own Art Gallery of Private Art Museum. Botswana is grappling with 27 323 registered orphans as at March 2018. And according to a spokesperson of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, Masego Ramakgati, government continues to provide these orphans with school uniform, transport fares, bedding and toiletries. In addition, Government ensures that orphans are exempted from cost sharing fees, are provided with psycho-social support as well as given special dispensation for access to tertiary education. An amount of P234, 054, 440 was allocated for orphan care programme for the fiscal period 2017/2018, said Ramakgathi.

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BRING IT ON Ignatius Moswaane ready to serve Francistown West again

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READY TO LEAD AGAIN: Francistown West MP Ignatius Moswaane

Ignatius Moswaane is a former Francistown City Mayor and he served as Monarch Councillor until he took over the reigns as Francistown West constituency in 2014. The constituency had been in the hands of the late Tshelang Masisi before Moswaane took over.

Now the outspoken MP is ready to defend it.
He lists the construction of an additional secondary school at Gerald Estate, the undertaking of a P36 million streetlights project and construction of a road network at Monarch among some of his achievements both as Councillor and later MP.

“The peripheral servicing of the planned Central Business District (CBD) at Gerald Estate has been completed.  “Over and above that we have used the P10 million community development money from government to build houses, some of which we are renting out to public servants.“We have divided the constituency into three (3) clusters and each will have a multi-purpose recreational hall,” said the Botswana Democratic (BDP) Member of Parliament (MP).

He added that Gerald Estates and Phase 6 in Monarch will soon have a local center each owned by the VDC which will lease the shopping area to business. Moswaane initiated Monarch Development Centre to help the youth access government economic projects by, among other things, doing business plans for them for free. His next phase is to push for industrialisation of Francistown by using local resources. “Besides, Francistown must become an industrial hub for the region where, instead of SADC countries going all the way to Johannesburg and Durban to collect their cargo, the cargo is brought to the Francistown airport from their source be it Asia, or where ever by plane for the owner to collect the cargo here.

Our airport is under-utilised at the moment,” he noted. Another way of creating employment is for government to increase its efforts of using ISPAAD to help small scale farmers next to Francistown to grow fruits and vegetables to the extent that we do not import anything. Moswaane regrets government’s slow pace on allocating plots at Gerald Estates. “Since 2012 some 2500 plots have been serviced yet a lot of people from as far back as 1990s are on the waiting list because government is yet to allocate the plots.

The Minister had promised that the process would commence in December last year but nothing has thus far happened. If elected, I will follow up on the matter,” pledged the MP. He is also of the view that more resources should be invested in Nyangabgwe to make it a health facility of choice. “It should be turned into a state of the art hospital where special medical care is provided to attract even people from outside the country. The residents of Francistown need a district hospital,” he observed.

If he returns to parliament, Moswaane will move that the Youth Development Fund (YDF) be increased from P120million to P1billion and the Gender Economic Empowerment Fund from P50 million to P1 billion as well. Moswaane believes the country should build more technical colleges and brigades to carter for the thousands of students who leave school every year without the necessary grade needed as the entry threshold to tertiary schools.

In 2014, Moswane garnered 5304 votes against second-placed Habaudi Hobona of the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) who was voted in by 3461 voters. UDC was represented by Shatiso Tambula who managed a paltry 950 votes. This year Moswaane will have to fend off competition from Dira Moalosi of the Alliance for Progressives (AP) and Mbaakanyi Lenyatso of the UDC.

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FREE AT LAST: LGBTI persons celebrate

Yvonne Mooka

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CELEBRATION TIME: The LGBT community celebrated the historic ruling on same sex romance this Tuesday

Thapelo Matshameko, a transgender woman who last year was attacked at Trekkers night club in Gaborone is over the moon about the High Court ruling that overturned a law that criminalised same sex relations.

A trans-woman is a woman who was assigned male at birth. In response to the ruling, she told The Midweek Sun that even though she has had it tough before with people calling her ‘Brazen’ and to stop behaving like a woman, she is now happy that the law recognises that they exist. She said that Batswana are now becoming tolerant towards Lesbians Gays Bisexual Transgender and Intersex persons.

“Recently I went out for dinner with my bae, and I came all the way from my house wearing a dress. People that know me loved it and my boyfriend loved it even more,” she says, adding that the verdict will also help other LGBTI persons that are in the closet to come out.

In a previous interview Metshameko pleaded for assistance from members of the public to help her do a surgery that would make her a complete woman. For Motswakgakala Sithole also known as Motswafere in music circles, the ruling shows that Botswana is one step closer to gay marriages.

“Thank you to all the visible gay people. We take punches for those hiding and those shaming us for being visible and exercising our rights. You guys attended court cases with pride and you have carried us to freedom,” he said.

He also thanked Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO), lawyers in the case, the media, and friends of the LGBTI community for their support. Phio Kenosi who identifies as trans non-binary asexual woma-romantic, (romantically attracted to the feminine essence), was also ecstatic.

“It is obviously showing that we are moving in a new direction that is positive and inclusive towards sexual and gender minority,” he said.

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