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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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Police blast man with fire extinguisher

The MidweekSun Admin

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Life has not been easy for Rakhuna man, Gaitsiwe Moroka since a police officer blast a fire extinguisher in his face at a roadblock near Pitsane this year on April 25.

The police were on duty and as a norm, they were checking for among others, the presence of a functional fire extinguisher in a kombi which Moroka and other five other passengers and their driver were using. When The Midweek Sun interviewed him on Monday, pain was written all over his face.
His is a clear sign of depression.

“My life changed drastically this year after the incident. I was on my way from signing an agreement for a tender with Botswana Defence Force camp when the police stopped our kombi at a road block in Pitsane. There was a long debate between the two police officers and our driver about the functionality of the fire extinguisher.
All of a sudden, one of the officers sprayed the fire extinguisher without checking if it was functional or not, and he directed the nozzle inside the kombi,” he said, adding that he was on his way to Lobatse where he stays.

High Court papers dated August 30, 2018 show that Mfosi Legal Attorneys are handling the case in which the victim is suing the BPS for an amount of P2.84 million.
He says although there other passengers in the kombi, he was the one most affected. The High Court documents state that the police officer did not even bother to check on the health of the commuters nor apologise for his extremely dangerous negligent act.

The kombi would then leave for Lobatse and just before it arrived, the plaintiff’s claim notes that it was apparent that the powder had affected his sight and he started regurgitating unabated, lost consciousness and woke up at Athlone Hospital with an oxygen mask strapped to his face and intravenous drip in his arm.

“To date, Moroka, 40, has a constant whooping cough and has been informed by doctors that it will take several years for the noxious elements used in the fire extinguisher to completely be flushed from his body,” says the summons, further stating that doctors had also detected likelihood of asthma.

It says that due to the gross negligence of the police, Moroka is currently unable to work, let alone work around dust. This, it says, has caused a great financial burden on him due to the fact that he is a builder by profession, and is not able to take care of his two minor children. Moroka, according to the sheet, has developed a very itchy rash all over his skin since the incident.
“What is more disconcerting is that the police have never bothered to check on the health of the plaintiff or even issued an official apology. Thus his compensation demands include gross negligence at P1 million, pain and suffering at P1 million, loss of income at P84. 200.00 and cost of the suit
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‘I feel weak’ For Moroka, the incident has left him helpless. He has given up on life and wishes himself dead. “I’m always thinking about killing myself but I always think about my two children. If I die anytime, Batswana must know that government killed me. I have no food, no income but I am a man. I believe in using my hands and legs but now my health does not permit me to walk in the sun. I’m supposed to be resting but I’m now giving up on life,” he said.

He won the children’s custody after his divorce three years ago. He is now afraid that he would lose the children because he cannot afford to take care of them. “My life is stuck. I’m sad and empty, and in deep pain. My lungs are weak. Police do not care about me after what they did to me and I’m now on my own. Government clinics do not have all the medication and my sprays, and I have to travel to Molepolole at times. My bones are always in pain and I am now on a special diet which I can’t afford,” he said.

His comprehensive report card shows a dysfunction in the heart, lungs, bones, skin and eye and makes an expert advice which is basically expensive diet and resting most of the time. Several times he had fainted while walking and at one time it happened while he was in Mafikeng, visiting a relative. He was admitted at a local clinic.
Doctors that have been attending to him since the dreadful incident that shows a common denominator of Carbon dioxide inhalation that affected his skin, sight and respiratory system. He has started counselling at SBRANA Psychiatric Hospital.

He said that efforts to seek help from BPS Commissioner KeabetsweMakgophe were futile. “I’m always told he is away,” he said. BPS Assistant Commissioner Dipheko Motube could not respond to questions sent by this reporter by press time.

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Botswana Creative Business Cup winner, Mmono joins global comp. in Denmark

Keletso Thobega

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Botswana Creative Business Cup Nicolette Chinomona says that government should channel funding and business support among youth towards the creative industry instead of focusing on traditional sectors.

This year’s winner of the cup is Lebogang Mmono of Just Ginger Beverages. Chinomona told The Midweek Sun that she applied for the license of the international entrepreneurship competition because she noticed that local entrepreneurs, particularly youth, were not getting the necessary support.

“I wanted to help develop the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the country by generating attention for startups that aren’t traditional, that are in the creative space and think out of the box; because there isn’t enough risk appetite for supporting those kinds of startups”, she said.

Chinomona said that government has been quite deliberate in helping businesses start-ups, but the key challenge is that the government has to use the resources it has to fund business models that it feels can succeed and become a core part of the economy.

“A lot of potential sponsors and funders are intimidated at the prospect of putting money into a local enterprise.”Chinomona said that it was only entrepreneurship that could change the economic dynamics of Batswana’s lives. “As a society we need to change the narrative around entrepreneurship, we need to begin to acknowledge that while entrepreneurial paths are fraught with risks and challenges, that entrepreneurship is also a huge part of developing a sustainable economy.

“We need to be realistic, not everyone can have a conventional white-coller career. Someone has to produce the goods that people with careers want to spend their money on and entrepreneurs can make an excellent living and even thrive on that. I believe that changing the conversation around this means pushing back on the idea that failures become entrepreneurs.”

Chinomona said since working with young entrepreneurs, she had noticed that one of the key things that they say they need is mentorship. “A lot of them have the raw skill but they don’t have the business skills to be able to sell what they can easily make.

“And also they are hungry for community and collaboration, because being an entrepreneur can be isolating and discouraging.” Meanwhile, Mmono is preparing to take part in the global competition in Copenhagen, Denmark next month. She said she hoped to network and find ways to break into the global business sector by selling her uniquely Botswana products and partnering with other entrepreneurs.

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