The Monitor :: The Remaining BCL Success Story
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Last Updated
Monday 24 September 2018, 15:01 pm.
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The Remaining BCL Success Story

SELEBI-PHIKWE: Just four months before its liquidation BCL Mine, in partnership with Switzerland-based Glencore Nickel handed over half-a-million pula to Humana People to People, a child aid project in Botshabelo.
By Onalenna Kelebeile Mon 23 Apr 2018, 14:52 pm (GMT +2)
The Monitor :: The Remaining BCL Success Story








The then mine employees who contributed a day from their leave days that were converted into money, raised part of the P3.6 million fund from BCL.

Today the project remains a success story that carries memories of how much economic impact the mine had in the lives of Selebi-Phikwe residents. Now in the absence of BCL, the project relies only on Glencore for its day-to-day running. The core business of the project is to surround a child with all necessary services. The Japanese Embassy recently gave the centre a grant for materials to start skills development lessons.

Child aid project coordinator, Leburu Gaepongwe said they offer classes in sewing, small stock, horticulture, business management and computer studies with the aim of strengthening the economy of the local families. Interestingly, some former mine employees are now reaping the rewards of their sweat as they are utilising the facility for sewing lessons so that they can later establish their own businesses.

Gaepongwe said they later link their ‘students’ with government structures that can assist them with funding. “We encourage them to form groups so that they can easily access funding. We also do follow-ups to see if they managed to set up their own businesses,” he said. The facility uses some of its offices as classes and officials share the few available spaces to do day-to-day work while lessons on the other hand are in progress.

They are assisted by volunteers to facilitate courses and the Ministry of Agriculture also offers horticulture lessons for free using its own manuals.

 The coordinator is impressed that the accessibility of the centre is very high and they have since started weekend lessons for those retaking Form 3 and Form 5 to prepare them for examinations in the process providing peer-to-peer mentoring. Currently the centre has an enrolment of 391 children mainly from Botshabelo location ranging from three years upwards. During the day these children are engaged in informal play groups through which their mentors are able to identify specific challenges they may be facing at home and address them. Gaepongwe said they have already picked incidences of economic hardships and abuse through drawings, paintings and games.

Those doing Standard 5 and 7 are also provided with sexual health lessons

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to prepare them before they engage in sexual activities. Currently children in Botshabelo are mostly benefiting from the centre because of its accessibility but for other schools around Selebi-Phikwe, the centre provides lessons to them on a regular basis.

They are appealing to the community to clean up their closets and donate clothes to the centre so that they can assist those children and applauded Glencore, BancABC and some individuals for having donated some clothes.

The centre also mobilises women who are now mainly breadwinners to establish ‘Grow Groups’ to instill the spirit of saving money. Such groups have been successfully linked with Kagiso Mortuary for funeral insurance and they have insured their families to fill the gap that their husbands left when they lost their jobs from the mine. “Women have now been empowered to take over.  They have even opened bank accounts and have started individual income generation activities,” he said.

The centre also conducts door-to-door mobilisation through which they are able to identify economic and social challenges that need attention and engage relevant government departments.

He cited that through this strategy, they were able to identify many people who do not have identity documents therefore could not qualify for amenities like food and health services from government and even to look for jobs.

“We discovered that such people do not know where family members that can assist them, are hence it becomes difficult for them to apply for birth certificates and Omang. Some were even unable to enrol for ARV treatment because of lack of such documents,” he said.

He was happy that they were able to assist one resident who lived under deplorable conditions in a shack without water or ablution.

Through their assistance, the man who has no relatives was assisted with accommodation and monthly ration. This beneficiary stayed for 25 years without an identity card and the centre has assisted him to attain one.

“In the event that we cannot trace relatives completely, we engage neighbours as witnesses for us to process necessary assistance,” he added.

With all these positives the painful memory is that the mine closed down before it commenced the second phase of the centre and the space that was earmarked for this project remains idle.

 

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FOREIGN EXCHANGE: Wednesday, 17 Jan 2018
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