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Old, crawling and home alone

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One of Botswana’s VISION 2016 pillars of a caring and a compassionate nation has eluded 76 year old Gaboutwelwe Nthomiwa of Sebina village as she finds herself crawling around her house and yard without anyone noticing her desperate situation.

Nthomiwa, who was affected by polio in both legs as a young girl, now desperately needs a wheelchair to help her get around her house. Her condition was compounded some two years ago when she fell after a misstep.

This paralysed her legs rendering them unable to carry her any more. Nthomiwa can only move from one place to another by way of crawling. This makes it close to impossible for her to sweep her house, bathe herself or wash her clothes.

As if that is not enough, her only son and child died some years back depriving her of a companion to care for her. “I grew up with my disability. It was however not a handicap as I walked around with the aid of crutches. I also ran a tailor business specialising in sewing school uniforms and different types of clothes for both men and women. My disability never gave me any problems until I accidentally tripped and fell two years ago, “she said.

Things have never been the same since that fateful fall. Her only source of income is the old age pension or tandabala. If she had a source of income, she would hire a maid. “It’s been some time since I last took a bath because to do that I need somebody around to fetch water for me. If only I had a wheelchair, things would be better as I would be able to move around and do my daily chores in the yard.

I am grateful though that the Sebina chief has shown a lot of concern and care for me because, time and again, he and his family send someone to give me food since cooking for myself has become difficult.”

Even fetching water from the tap inside the yard has become a burden for Nthomiwa. “As far as I am concerned, a wheelchair would definitely end my current woes,” she said.

An investigation by The Midweek Sun has established that the old woman is not getting the recently introduced disability allowance like any other disabled people. When asked to produce a food ration card for destitute people, Nthomiwa said that she does not have one. She revealed that only once did she get a bag of 12.5kg mealie meal and a chunk of meat from a local retailer shop.

“That piece of meat you see spread on my cooking stove is all that I have been given each month for the past two months,” said Nthomiwa who revealed that  all her close relatives live in Mafungo village.

Tutume Sub-district public relations officer Gaamogwe Nfila was in the dark about Nthomiwa’s desperation, saying she can only be aware of a case which has been registered with the council social workers. “I will make an official investigation and inquiry into her situation so that she can be assisted if she qualifies after a thorough assessment by our social workers,” she said.

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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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