BANA BA LETSATSI, MAUN, BOTSWANA

In December 2002, an Irish lady founded Bana ba Letsatsi in response to the growing number of children on the streets in Maun. She quickly identified the issue of children roaming the streets that so far had not been identified by the authorities. She set up the cornerstone for Bana ba Letsasti and started focusing exclusively on these children, picking them up off the streets and taking them to a make shift center and reintroducing them back to their schools. As of today BBL has 230 registered children. The children are between the ages of 4 and 17. The organization has managed to successfully reintroduce (in some cases introduce) 35 children into Botswana’s government school system. An additional 11 children joined “Bana ba Metsi”, a charitable organization that teaches 13-15 year old boys practical skills. Two children were sent to the SOS Children’s Village in Fancistown.

 

The children in Maun receive breakfast before they go to school, lunch after school and a snack before the day ends in the center at 4:30 pm during the week. The children also learn to do their own laundry and assist in cleaning up duties.

 

The schooling provided in the center is intended to prepare these children to re-enter the official government education system.

The Center also actively monitors the development of the children that have been reintroduced to official schools. Where children have dropped out, school visits are conducted to determine why and find an acceptable solution for the child.

 

The Center will also ensure that the child has the necessary uniforms and will provide these if the parents cannot afford them and the Social Service Department does not feel responsible. Further family initiatives are undertaken and currently caregivers and mothers attend sewing and craft classes to later sell the self-produced products.

Youth development has been a strong focus to train older children in plumbing, brick lying and roofing and assisting them in finding permanent employment with local companies.

 

Child analyses and home visits are conducted to ensure the children can be classified as children at risk. A personal file is kept and updated. Regular home visits are carried out whenever possible to meet with parents/relatives to further assess the problems facing a child and councel the families where necessary.

 

The majority of the children are addicted to glue and other substances that will allow them to forget their immediate pains and sorrows. To address this difficult subject the Center is also looking at setting up a regular detoxification therapy. Many of the children are HIV-positive and the medical treatment of these children is one of the main concerns as the local hospital's functionality is very poor.

These are some of the main task involved around the children. There is obviously a lot of administrative work to be done to liaise with local NGO’s, Governmental Institutions, organize food, donations, uniforms, materials etc..