On Wednesday, July 31st, 2013 PCI and Hope World Wide jointly sponsored a Partnership Acknowledgement Event. This important landmark for both agencies represented the union of two “like thinking” Organisations and the celebration of a large grant from Barclays Bank of Botswana for the sustainable empowerment of Botswana citizens, focused mainly on women and children.
“I never thought I could speak in public like this, addressing people of your calibre”
“ I did not think much of the P500 I received as a volunteer, until I saw a bank account being opening from weekly P2 .00 contributions”
“I never thought I could set foot in a bank, I saw the glass doors as too glamorous for simple people like me, but now I can walk into the bank and carry out transactions, like everybody else”
These are some of the words expressed by two Grass Roots building Our wealth (GROW) group members who gave testimonies at the historic launch of the Project Concern International (PCI) and Barclays Bank GROW Project partnership in Borakalalo Ward, Molepolole on 31 July 2013. These were Mrs Gomotsegang Sesupo and Mrs Kehumile Mpusetsang.
Speaking at the event, PCI Country Representative, Ms Dorothy Tlagae said PCI is an international non-governmental organisation that provides services to local community- based organisations to support communities to help themselves in addressing the impact of HIV/AIDS and related challenges.
“Through the Tsela Kgopo Program, PCI helps communities to best understand their needs and identify lasting solutions on how to address them,” said Ms Tlagae.
She explained that GROW is a community mobilisation approach that aims at empowering vulnerable populations socially and economically.
GROW stands for Grass Roots building Our Wealth and has been piloted by PCI and produced great results in some Southern and East African countries. It was then introduced to two of PCI’s partners in Botswana, that is, HOPE worldwide Botswana in Kweneng East and Kgetsi Ya Tsie in Tswapong District.
In the GROW model, women with very low economic status are put into groups of 15 – 20 to start savings. The group is responsible for coming up with its own rules and regulations; for deciding on the weekly monetary contribution per member, and any other ways to grow their wealth as a group or individuals.
In Kweneng East, HOPE worldwide Botswana implements GROW in Mmakanke lands, Mosokotso lands and in Borakalalo Ward in Molepolole village.
Barclays Bank liked the model, and then went into a partnership with PCI to fund the GROW project in Molepolole and Kasane (through another PCI partner, Catholic Relief Services).
Speaking at the event, the Barclays Bank of Botswana’s Managing Director Mr Aupa Monyatsi said, “making a difference, changing lives and playing a part to make our communities a better place is the utmost way of giving and living”.
He said “GROW, as a poverty alleviation program, was introduced to us (i.e. Barclays) in 2012, and provided a unique opportunity to invest in a program that is innovative in its approach to addressing poverty”.
Mr Monyatsi presented to PCI’s Country Representative Ms Dorothy Tlagae, a cheque worth P884 444 for the expansion of GROW in Molepolole and Kasane for the next two years, with expectation to reach 640 individuals.
With a goal to provide very poor women with an opportunity to fundamentally change and develop their lives and that of their families, Barclays’ vision is to enable young people to live economically active lives. To achieve this, they would be trained in skills such as entrepreneurial, money management and life skills in general.
He stated that, “Barclays will continue to play its part in developing the communities in which it operates by seeking innovative solutions to address critical areas.”
Officiating at the event, United States Ambassador to Botswana Ms Michelle Gavin, said the participation of women in economic strengthening activities has lagged behind due to challenges brought forth by HIV and AIDS.
Among issues that contributed to this was the fact that women spent a lot of time caring for the ill and raising orphans and other vulnerable children (OVC).
“Since 2003, the U.S. Government, through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, has supported the Government of Botswana with over $600 million to assist in Botswana’s response to HIV/AIDS, including care and support for OVC. The country is seen by many as a model for its outstanding response to the epidemic,” said Ms Gavin.
She echoed sentiments that government cannot go at it alone, but will need the private sector to also participate. Ms Gavin commended “Barclays Bank of Botswana for leading such an excellent initiative. The resources will allow PCI and its implementing partners to reach more women and youth.”
She added, “The contribution of the private sector is important in leveraging the resources coming from the governments of Botswana and United States of America for bigger impact and long-term positive results”.
Speaking to show appreciation on behalf of the Government of Botswana,Assistant Minister of Health and Molepolole North MP Mr Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri said, “one cannot over emphasise the gratitude that we feel as government for collaborations between private sector (in this case, Barclays Bank) and Civil Society Organisations (in this case, Project Concern International). “
He continued, “as government, we celebrate any public private partnership (PPP) because, wherever there are gaps due to government’s resource constraints, we can rest assured that we have able and committed partners on the ground as demonstrated through this partnership today. ”
The event was graced by among others, Kgosi Kgari Sechele III, who welcomed guests, Deputy District Commissioner for Molepolole/Lentsweletau Administration Authority Mrs Boingotlo Ngaka, who introduced guests, Kweneng East District AIDS Coordinator Ms Theresa Makati, Borakalalo Ward Kgosana Mr Kebelaele Sesiane, USAID officials, government departments, private sector entities, ACHAP, and civil society partners.
Borakalalo Ward Councillor Mr Shabir Kably gave a vote of thanks, and thanked HOPE worldwide Botswana for making a difference in the community and for bringing to them strategies that empower the residents. In the launched partnership, HOPE worldwide Botswana will be the PCI partner implementing GROW in Molepolole.
At this event, a young boy from Borakalalo named Baboloki Motswana left some in tears as he confidently recited poems about GROW and its impact in the lives of women.
By Kedibonye Malejane
HOPE worldwide Botswana
BY BABOLOKI MOTSWANA
Dithejwane Junior School
Grow you are like a diamond ruby
From opel to diamond. You shine bright like star
In the star you bravely stood among the tall mountains
You give life to women. We thank you for the opportunity of life
At times of darkness you light the way ahead
You brought life opportunities to women
You shine bright that even the light bulb breaks up
You are like an ancient Roman soldier
You are brave that you can scar a lion
You are ambassador of women
You are the hero of women
You are the ambassador of women
You are like a river flowing from north to south
We thank you for the water of life
That we drink from you
You are like Perennial River you
Never dry up
You give life to hopeless women
You open job opportunities to women
You are like a ferry that carries women across a river
From one paint to another you carry women across a river
Grow, Grow you are like a diamond
Ruby from opel to diamond
You shine bright that even a light bulb break up
You are the ambassador of women
For that I will say thank you