Debswana contributes to livelihoods

The game-changing decision by Debswana Diamond Company to support youth empowerment through the donation of rechargeable solar lamps, reusable hygienic sanitary pads and educational books on sexual abuse, will see beneficiaries reaping innumerable benefits.


The three-tier donation speaks to Debswana's Corporate Social Investment programme which includes, among other key focus areas; education, health, enterprise development, youth development and sports.


Thanks to the partnership forged in 2019 with Debswana, the economic prospects of villagers in Mabalane village in the Kgatleng district, have been boosted through employment that came about after Now For Them Trust, a non-governmental organisation, engaged twenty women and youth in assembling 4250 solar lamps.


The employment of the women and youth is in line with the Government's clarion call for poverty alleviation and imparts real skills that will allow the beneficiaries to chart their own paths, especially given that most of them are from poor backgrounds, while some dropped out of school due to teenage pregnancy.


After undergoing an intensive training for one month, the recipients acquired skills in assembling solar lamp units in an industry that is traditionally dominated by men. Now  For Them founder, Sarah Mulwa says the solar lamps project created real employment in Botswana.


"The women and youth employed to assemble the solar lamps are now skilled people that are capable of putting food on the table in their homes," she says. "They have the necessary skills and knowledge to make a real contribution to economic development in the renewable energy space which is still growing in Botswana. They are also capable of doing maintenance work on the solar lamps."


The recipients of the rechargeable solar lamps are scholars with no access to electricity based in Jwaneng and Orapa catchment areas. Mulwa says the biggest benefit the learners will derive from the solar lamps is the improvement of their school grades as they can study well into the night without worrying about light.


"We are talking about an entire household benefiting from just a single lamp," she says. "It is a great milestone when it comes to innovation, especially given that the solar lamps were assembled by Batswana women and youth who have now become social entrepreneurs."


Debswana's donation of more than 4000 reusable hygienic sanitary pads echoes well with the global push to promote a healthy lifestyle for the girl-child and ensure they are kept in school and not left behind; in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.


This endeavour will result in minimum disruptions to female learners in Botswana, thus allowing them to concentrate on their education without worrying about their monthly cycles ordained by nature.


An immediate positive transformation that comes with the substantial donation is the improvement of school grades, the fostering of self-confidence and promotion of greater socialisation skills for the girl-child who will be kept in school.


The founder of The Chosen Pads Foundation, Malebogo Letsatle, says girls and women in Botswana could make huge financial savings through the use of reusable pads which can be reused over a period of three years.


"The pads are waterproof, allow for aeration, adequately absorb and retain the flow and come in different sizes up to the mega pad for heavy flows," she explains. "The environment benefits immensely as there will be less pollution through littering or filling the landfill sites. In other words, these pads are sustainable and ecofriendly."


In this connection, Agora Club Botswana, which partnered with Debswana in procuring the sanitary pads, continues its work of fundraising and raising awareness about the plight of adolescent girls in Botswana who are forced to skip school due to lack of access to sanitary pads.


Agora Vice Chairlady, Fuzlin Egner, says her organisation has been involved in many other projects that include the testing of children's eyes in schools in Ghanzi through the Eyes of the World project in which opticians would determine which learners required reading glasses.


Debswana partnered with UNICEF in procuring 15 000 copies of the book titled, My Body Belongs to Me, which will be donated to students in Jwaneng-Mabotsane and Boteti district.


The educative and informative book empowers young people and raises awareness on issues of gender based violence whose numbers spiked in the country, since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.


Onica Lekuntwane, the author and illustrator of the book, says the main take away for people is that her book pushes everyone to know, understand and appreciate their limits when it comes to conduct around children.


"The main benefit, which is also part of the reason why I produced the book, is so that children can know what safe and unsafe touching is, and for them to know that they have the right to say no, if the touching is unsafe," she explains.


The book is rendered in simple yet artistic fashion in both English and Setswana for the benefit of children and adults.


The involvement of adults, Lekuntwane says, is necessary in order that children feel safe around people they may or may not know.


"For example, when a child goes to the clinic, they are asked where their parent is, yet some adults refuse to accompany their children for treatment," the author says. "Adults need to know that some people take advantage and touch their children inappropriately, even in instances in which parents think their children are in good or safe hands, so parents and guardian need to be aware of this."


Parents and guardians are called upon to sit with their children and educate them on sexual abuse of children. Through this book, adults can also benefit with knowledge on how best they can protect children from sexual abuse, or any form of abuse.


"This book is beneficial and must not be read by children alone," Lekuntwane says. "It can be read by parents and guardians at home, the teacher in the classroom, leaders at places of worship and many other platforms."


Lekuntwane's gratitude to Debswana for the support is profound. "I am very grateful to Debswana for purchasing such a large number of books for distribution to areas that need the education on sexual abuse against children," she says adding that the entire nation has a role to play to protect children. "We cannot keep waiting for someone else to take the initiative. We need to make the right noise where it is necessary to protect our children."