ARTESIA: While shelter is a basic need that any individual should have, the same cannot be said of several families in Artesia, a small village located in Kgatleng District.
Even though the whole yard is clean, the family does not have sufficient accommodation to house everyone and the rest stay in a white tent which has been pitched next to the tin house. The tent was donated by the Botswana Red Cross. “We used to have two huts here. But they were destroyed by rain some years back. I don’t remember how long we stayed in a tent, but I know it is quite a number of years back,” Lejone explains their plight. “Even though I would like to build a proper brick house, I cannot afford it because I am unemployed.
My parents failed to take me to school because of poverty.” Lejone says she cannot find a better job to provide for her family due to “my educational background”. “We used to survive through my boyfriend’s salary, but he just left his job as a herd boy after having a disagreement with his boss who did not pay him as agreed.” With her boyfriend out of work and her surviving on menial jobs, she finds it difficult to put food on the table. Lejone says she depends largely on Ipelegeng, which is also not reliable, since they are hired on shifts. Under the programme, her and co-workers work for one month and skip the next one to give others a chance.
To exacerbate the situation, even though her children have grown up, only one of her daughters is employed at a local farm, but her earnings are not enough to provide for the family. Sadly, the rest of her children are unemployed. Her plight is worsened by the recent schools’ reopening as her youngest child, who has just started Form One, does not have a school uniform. Lejone reveals they have so far only managed to buy school shoes for the child and are not certain when they will be able to buy school uniform for him. Lejone’s situation is the same as of that of 52-year-old Onneetse Keobatlile whose family lives in a similar set-up. Even though she could not readily state the number of her family members, Keobatlile explains that they are a very big family who survives on piece jobs. Keobatlile, who is a single mother, says as a result of lack of job opportunities in the area, her children are unemployed and they depend on piece jobs that do not pay much to put food on the table.
Keobatlile also blames lack of education as a contributing factor for her predicament. She bemoans that living in a tent is a nightmare for the family as it is not suitable for any kind of weather. “Rainy days are bad, as we have to hang clothes to dry every time after the rain stops. We barely sleep during those days. Winter seasons are the worst. Itlhela go sena fa motho a ka itshobokang teng gore bogolo a utlwe bothitho. I feel sorry for the young ones since they also have to endure the harsh weather conditions,” she says of bad weather elements.
For another Artesia resident, Bafedile Molefe, her situation may seem a bit better on face value because the family has two one-room houses. However, she lives with her three young sisters and children in the two rooms. Her children are also unemployed. Molefe points out that her attempt to seek help from social workers had not succeeded because she was told to look for a job, as she was still young. She says her attempts to look for a job have not borne fruit because of being illiterate. The situation in Artesia is a documented one. Even Artesia’s customary court headman of record, Benjamin Lesang admits his village faces many challenges.
He identifies these as high unemployment amongst the youth, poverty more especially amongst women, which makes it difficult for them to provide for their children. Artesia, also known as Mosomane, is located about 55 km north of Mochudi, along the A1 road.