Hope for the homeless of ‘Mogadishu’

Sprawling industria: Mogoditshane is a rapidly expanding village
Sprawling industria: Mogoditshane is a rapidly expanding village

Growing rapidly through the years on the western outskirts of Gaborone, Mogoditshane has picked up several ills previously exclusive to the capital. Mmegi Correspondent, NNASARETHA KGAMANYANE, reports on one of these – homelessness

In 2001, Mogoditshane was measured as having a population of 32,843 being an increase from the 14,246 counted in 1991, the previous census.  By 2011 – the last census – the village had grown to 58,079 residents or by more than four times in 20 years.

As it has grown, the village has attracted urban-type problems associated with higher populations such as greater waste, noise, crime, vice and homelessness.

The pattern of inequality seen across the country’s urban areas has also been replicated in the growing village of Mogoditshane, with the near egalitarian structures of yesteryear, replaced by modern capitalism.

Homelessness has emerged as a by-product of the growth, with more cases of abandoned children, beggars, street children and other less fortunate wanderers in the dusty village.

The Botswana Defence Force (BDF), a central resident of the village, has come to its rescue with the establishment of a halfway house to cater for the homeless. When fully complete, the Half Way Home will be the first of its kind in Botswana.

It will provide an interim home for abandoned babies and infants, abused children and homeless persons, before proper placement can be found for them.

“Seemo sa letlhoko la boroko mo motseng wame tota se a tlhobaetsa. I can’t thank the BDF enough for building a home in my village.

I am very concerned about increasing numbers of people more especially orphans who continuously become homeless due to various reasons,” Mogoditshane Kgosi Alfred Dihutso said with a smile.

He said that it was a warm feeling knowing that there were people who still cared for the poor and needy.

Dihutso could not stop applauding the military for its good gesture saying that the house would accommodate many children from his village who are mostly taken far from home to a new environment that they are not used to.

He said that the initiative came at the right time more especially for the old people who always roam the streets and get lost because their family members abandoned them.

“I believe that if more homes could be built in urban areas countrywide, we would be able to reach the 2016 vision of compassionate and caring nation.  We will thus move forward as this would also bridge the gap between the rich and poor which seems bigger,” he said.

To many, when the word military or soldiers is mentioned they think of war, peace keepers and a lot of things that deal with the security of a country or contrary.

The task of the military is usually defined as defence of the state and its citizens, and the prosecution of war against another state.

However, this is not a case with our soldiers. In their role of serving and protecting the nation, the BDF has decided to do something extremely heartwarming. For many years, BDF has been involved in many community activities like building houses, backyard gardening, litter picking and many others to ensure that they bond with and give back to the community.

In their bid towards contributing to broader social development, BDF undertook activities that were aimed at benefiting communities, disadvantaged members of the society, the environment and the nation at large by building a shelter for the needy.

According to Colonel Morwadi Kgwatalala of Sir Seretse Khama Barracks (SSKB), in order to ensure the spirit of assisting those in need continues, they adopted a sustainable approach to corporate social responsibility on 2013.

“This spirit of caring for others is in line with one of the pillars of Vision 2016 that aspires for a compassionate, just and caring nation.”

“The Half Way Home is a joint outreach project (orphanage) by the three BDF barracks in Gaborone namely SSKB, Glen Valley, Village Garrison and VIP Squadron that provide temporary accommodation to the homeless whilst necessary arrangements are made with the relevant authorities to secure permanent placement,” he said.

He added that the joint outreach project would benefit abandoned infants, abused children and homeless persons. 

The Half Way Home will be the first of its kind in Botswana. According to Kgwatalala, the name means the shelter is meant to keep the affected people temporarily before they can be taken to permanent homes.

Kgwatalala said that even though many may not know, all the BDF barracks across the country have been engaged in different community activities.

He said the shelter will have an en-suite for boys, girls, men, and women and caretakers.

He said each house will have its own lounge, store room, kitchen, rest and bathroom and offices where consultation can be done.

He pointed out that they decided to choose building a shelter that could be used by all the needy people amongst all the projects they were given by the Mogoditshane/Thamaga social workers who told them that there was a great need for a shelter in the area.

He said the social welfare complained that they got an overwhelming number of needy people either children or elders who did not have homes.

“They told us that the situation sometimes got out of hand where they would be forced to take some of these people to their own houses as they could not abandon them,” he said.

He said they raised P530,000 and wanted the shelter to be completed in five months.

“I thank Ray Morgan Agency and Yame Kgari of Cash Build for their continued support.

I also thank both uniformed and non-uniformed BDF employees and families for allowing us to take some money from their salaries per month.  This has been a great move as we are about to change lives,” he added.

He added that they were looking forward to building more houses for the underprivileged people in the society.

According to Formson and Forsythe website (2010), the majority of children live with chronically ill or dying parents and/or live in poverty-stricken and food insecure households in Botswana. It further states that most of the children are either left orphans and homeless while some are driven away by greedy relatives who take their inheritance.

“The impact of HIV and AIDS on families has raised an alarming concern for child welfare in Botswana. In the past, the family had a sense of duty and responsibility towards its members even when resources were limited.

“About 48 percent of these children live in urban areas and the remaining 52 percent in rural areas.

However, despite improved health services and strong socioeconomic performance over the years since the discovery and exploitation of diamonds, a child born today in Botswana is expected to have a shorter lifespan than one born a decade ago,” it stated.

The website also states that developments, social ills, violence more especially Gender Based Violence and poverty have driven children out of their homesteads.

Editor's Comment
What about employees in private sector?

How can this be achieved when there already is little care about the working conditions of those within the private sector employ?For a long time, private sector employees have been neglected by their employers, not because they cannot do better to care for them, but because they take advantage of government's laxity when it comes to protecting and advocating for public sector employees, giving the cue to employers within the private sector...

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