Bots hailed for pro-people policies
Despite this drawback, the southern African country has, however, been praised by the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) for making meaningful strides in developing its people and making services available to them. Unicef Botswana representative Gordon Jonathan Lewis said despite the fact that only half of Botswana’s 120 000 orphans receive assistance from the government, the effort was still commendable although there was room for improvement. “We will not do justice to ourselves if we fail to recognise that not all children in Botswana have access to essential services,” he said when presenting an overview of the Unicef’s 2006 State of the World’s Children Report under the theme “Excluded and Invisible”. However, Lewis said Botswana deserved great recognition as the country’s prudently managed resources have been prioritised for social and economic development. He commended the country for scoring higher in achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Botswana is also one of the countries far ahead in providing life-prolonging drugs for HIV/Aids patients, but it is yet to reach universal access for all children who need treatment. Currently, Lewis said, it was estimated that anywhere between 10 000 and 20 000 children lived with HIV/Aids but less than 5 000 were on anti-retroviral treatment. Approximately 9 000 households were headed by children. He said these children were missing out on proper childhood and more was needed to include them. He said Botswana’s infant and under-five mortality rates between l991 and 2001, had increased by 17 percent and 21 percent, respectively. It is a sad twist of irony that these trends have not yet been excluded from statistical systems, but the thousands of children who have died in this 10-year period have, indeed, become invisible in our lives. Turning to the global picture, Lewis said hundreds of millions of excluded and invisible children were suffering from severe exploitation and discrimination. Not only do these children endure abuse, most are shut out from school, healthcare and other vital services needed to grow and thrive, he added. Meanwhile, Motswedi Rehabilitation Centre in Mochudi for people with disabilities has received a 25 000 pula donation boost from Kabelano Trust Fund. President Festus Mogae handed over the cheque to board members of the centre. Mogae urged members of the Kabelano Trust Fund to continue helping the needy. The money was raised through the annual Orange Kabelano Charity Cup football tournament held last year. President Mogae also commended Motswedi Rehabilitation Centre for doing a great job as it caters for children, not only from the Kgatleng District, but also from all over Botswana. He thanked the Dutch Reformed Church for starting the centre. Grace Ramatsui, the co-ordinator of Motswedi Rehabilitation Centre, said the Dutch Reformed Church saw it fit to help people with disabilities that were often looked down upon by their communities. The centre was established in 1995 with the help from the ministries of Education and Health. It caters for children of all ages. “We start with these children from a tender age and furnish them with skills that will help them contribute to the development of the country,” she said. Last year the centre opened a pre-school. Rakwadi Modipane, the Member of Parliament for Kgatleng West, thanked President Mogae for choosing Motswedi as it needs financial assistance. Modipane said centres that cater for people with disabilities needed all the support and encouragement to continue operating. He said Kabelano Trust Fund members should be seen as role models and that their gesture showed that there was hope of realising the aspirations of Vision 2016. In another development, Schachter and Namdar Botswana, a diamond polishing and processing company, has donated school equipment worth 220 000 pula to Bana ba Keletso Orphan Care Centre in Molepolole. The donation included computers, furniture ‘ for the administration block and dining hall ‘ toys, books, children’s educational equipment, and 10 tents for camping. The amount also includes the cost of a security guard for the next year and 3 000 pula per month to be used for petrol to transport the children to and from the centre. Charles Tibone, the Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources, handed over the gift to Bana ba Keletso. Tibone said the company has now become part of the Molepolole community and it has employed 300 people, mostly Kweneng residents. Tibone thanked Schachter and Namdar for remembering the children, who are the future leaders of the country, adding that he wished other companies would follow suit and reach out to needy communities. “Supporting a worthy cause like this centre really shows how socially responsible Schachter and Namdar is,” Tibone said. Tibone urged the company to continue its spirit of social responsibility and identify others who needed their help most. He said through the donation, the company fulfilled one of the pillars of Vision 2016 of building a compassionate, just and caring nation. Moeng Pheto, the Minister of Labour and Home Affairs, said Bana Ba Keletso Orphan Care Centre’s purpose was to offer all types of counselling services to the infected and affected by HIV/AIDS and other social problems in the Kweneng District, which has 6 048 orphans and other vulnerable children. Currently, the centre looks after 411 children aged between two and 18. Pheto said because of stigma and isolation in the society, not all children admitted in the centre were those who had lost their parents to Aids. The centre admits all orphans regardless of how the parents died.