A non-governmental organisation (NGO) has challenged policy makers to address developmental issues faced by youth in this country.
A non-governmental organisation (NGO) has challenged policy makers to address developmental issues faced by youth in this country. Maikano Youth Wellness Organisation (MYWO), a newly established advocacy organisation, has raised concerns over lack of policies and strategic ways of addressing problems that at most times lead to abortions, baby dumping and juvenile delinquency.
"We have noted that there is an increase in the incidence of baby-dumping, concealment of birth, child neglect, and infanticide in Botswana. Police statistics suggests that between 2005 and 2010, at least 450 babies were dumped, neglected, concealed, or died at the hands of their parents.
Most of the perpetrators are women and in particular, girls," said Nkosi Bentu, the Chairman of MYWO. He said that these are often the poor, single, under the age of 25, a first-time mother, likely to have less than Form Five level of education and to have suffered physical, sexual and emotional abuse in her family and intimate relationships.
Bentu said that now that the perpetrators have been located, it should be easier for the government to address problems that in a way force them to go against their conscience and commit some of the most hideous crimes.
"These issues clearly call for a response from political leaders, policy makers and practitioners. We believe that Botswana can still actively search for alternative methods to protect newborns by paying attention to the factors that skew the experiences of poor mothers toward unmoderated vulnerability.
All the deaths associated with these incidents are in fact preventable," he said. "Fortunately, there is evidence that this situation can be turned around, but concerted efforts from different stakeholders are needed. We further assert that current response systems do not reflect additive empathy, an ethic of care and compassion, comprehensiveness
MYWO is a newly registered NGO that intends to "aggressively address gaps that have been left out by existing organisations dealing with issues concerning babies and youth". It is mainly interested in promoting positive behavioural change to enable them to effectively resolve personal and social issues associated with developmental challenges. "We will be facilitating edutainment activities in order to promote wellness among the youth through physical activities.
We want to promote and build positive behavioural change programs for the youth in connection with improving healthy living," he said. "MYWO is positioned to address wellness issues concerning the youth by engaging in different kinds of recreational activities and implementing intervention in schools and the community at large," he said. "However, most of the workshops will be held in prisons, both male and female, aimed at promoting wellness, counselling, restoring hope, rehabilitation, change behaviour programmes," he continued.
Bentu said that they would at the same time be supporting ongoing national programmes aimed at poverty eradication. This will be from fund-raising initiatives. "We have decided to organise a sponsored walk that will include children from tertiary schools, primary, junior, senior secondary, tertiary education and the youth from the community at large.
This march is intended to raise awareness among the youth, local authorities, traditional leaders, health workers, families and the population in general on the magnitude of baby dumping, infanticide and concealing birth and we also want to advocate for a comprehensive study on the issue in order to evaluate the magnitude of the phenomenon, and identify strategies to tackle it effectively," he said. The walk is planned to take place at the end of this month.