Vol.21 No.118

Wednesday 4 August 2004    

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Ramotswa home care centre fights stigma

EDGAR TSIMANE
8/4/2004 12:33:17 AM (GMT +2)

TEBOGO Letsebe is a tailor who works for charity. The 36-year-old is one of a handful of women rendering their services voluntarily at the Ramotswa Shelter for the Hopeful. She knits curtains, table-cloths, cushions, bed linen and clothes for the Community Home Based Care Centre to sell in order to augment its rations from the Ministry of Local Government.


Letsebe and her colleagues carry the heavy burden of caring for HIV/AIDS patients and orphans through home visits, feeding programmes and dealing with the stigma attached to the Shelter for the Hopeful. "I think people who still stigmatise the centre have not yet been affected but that does not mean they won't be," she says. She emphasises that the centre provides for people with a wide range of difficulties and not only HIV/AIDS. "For example, not all of our orphans lost their parents to the HIV/AIDS virus. Some died in car accidents," she says.

On Monday this week, the district HIV/AIDS coordinator, Purene Bareetsi and Kabo Reetsang, representing Total Community Mobilisation (TCM) held an open discussion with members of the public to fight the stigma surrounding the Ramotswa centre. More than a hundred people, mainly women and students from Kelemogile and Ramotswa Secondary Schools attended.

According to Bareetsi, the campaign is an ongoing process through which the District Multi-Sectoral Committee reaches out to communities to inform them about different government programmes on HIV/AIDS.

On Monday, the gathering and discussions at the Shelter for the Hopeful impressed an American Peace Corps who has only been in Botswana for two months. Ruth Senchyna told Mmegi that judging by the turnout, women should be praised and commended. "It takes a lot of courage for one to talk about their own experiences regarding HIV/AIDS," she said.

Senchyna is one of the 40 American volunteers (Peace Corps) in Botswana who work with government and various NGOs in the fight against AIDS.

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