The exponential growth of Maun, in Northern Botswana, the gateway to Botswana’s popular tourist destination, the wildlife-rich Okavango Delta, has brought with it large-scale unemployment and the social problems attendant to that. In addition, Botswana’s high rate of HIV/Aids infection, especially in adults of child-bearing age, has resulted in many children being left in the care of elderly relatives, or heading up households themselves.
Bana Ba Letsatsi is a rehabilitation centre for orphans and vulnerable children which endeavours to keep such children off the streets and away from negative influences. It aims to empower them through education and support, help them return to mainstream schools, establish a drug and crime free life, and become productive members of society.
One of Bana Ba Letsatsi’s primary tasks is to supplement the education that is given in the government-run schools in Botswana, making sure that the children can get the most out of their schooling. Nevertheless, some children need further help, particularly with the basics of things like reading and writing. Currently, no such provision exists at Bana Ba Letsatsi.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Foundation is funding a pilot programme for children whose illiteracy is preventing them from participating fully in the other education programmes offered by the centre. Children such as eleven year old B_____ and his fourteen year old sister, O_____, who live on the outskirts of Maun on an illegal plot of land from which they are likely to be evicted at any time. Neither their mother or stepfather are working, although occasionally the stepfather will run an errand for someone in exchange for a small payment. B_____ has never been to school and O_____ dropped out early with negligible literacy.
The £500 provided by the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Foundation will provide a trained and experienced teacher for two two-hour sessions a week for fifteen children, and will include transport to and from the centre and a hot meal after lessons. If it is successful Bana Ba Letsatsi will use the experience gained from this pilot to seek funding for a longer term programme, with any lessons learnt incorporated.
Recommended by Robbie Stamp, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Foundation Chairman of the Board of Trustees, co-founder and current co-owner of h2g2.com.