Compassionate Botswana: The Botho Compassion Movement Works in Jwaneng Squatter Camps

Compassionate Botswana: The Botho Compassion Movement Works in Jwaneng Squatter Camps

By Julia Travers, 2015.

In Botswana, the first country to sign the Charter for Compassion in 2013, The Botho Compassion Movement is serving homeless families in Jwaneng squatter camps. Botho, or, "Motho ke motho ka batho" means in Swetsana, "I am because you are." In Jwaneng, 200 people are living in squatter camps. Magdalena Whoolery, Founder of the Botho Compassion Movement and a Nurse with a PhD in Health Studies, led and wrote a summary of a mission visit in October delivering supplies to these camps.

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Botho Compassion Movement working in Jwaneng squatter camps. Photo Credit: Magdalena Whoolery

In discussing her concern for these individuals, she writes,
"As a nurse of over 15 years and having worked with homeless people specifically, I can honestly say I have not seen such severe cases of malnutrition.
"I have asked the Catholic Church to make an urgent appeal to their congregation requesting food and water for the homeless. Our partners at Ministry of Health Nutrition Department were contacted...the head of Nutrition Mr. Abia responded with such greatness and compassion...I’m still overwhelmed by his response...The Head of Nutrition suggested that 'The DHMT head and the Community Health Nurse in Jwaneng must be contacted urgently to enroll the children in the nutrition program.'...This is the sort of action from government that must be commended and I really feel that we are so blessed at Botho Movement to be working with such compassion partners.

"We are also going to assist comprehensively in reducing infant mortality in Botswana through our work with MoH; these projects are about promoting and protecting breastfeeding."

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Botho Compassion Movement working in Jwaneng squatter camps. Photo Credit: Magdalena Whoolery

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Botho Compassion Movement working with Children in Jwaneng squatter camps. Photo Credit: Magdalena Whoolery

Whoolery also reported that there have been incidents of child rape in the camps.

"A serious concern for us at Botho Movement is the issue of child protection which I’ve raised before...Thanks to the suggestion from Marilyn [Turkovich, director] at Charter for Compassion we will be developing a guidebook and workshop for key stakeholders on the procedure and processes of child protection in Botswana...I will also speak to the Deputy Commissioner of Police and see if they can provide some kind of child protection service to these children."

On the follow-up visit, she reported that:

"...the children and mums will all have at least one meal a day for the next few weeks (direct feeding), until the children can be enrolled in the MoH nutrition program. This nutrition program is only for the under-fives and so we will need to make sure that somehow the older children and mothers get food too."

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Botho Compassion Movement working in Jwaneng squatter camps. Photo Credit: Magdalena Whoolery

Empathy fatigue is a big concern, but she tells us that,

"Botswana has amazing laws, a Children Act, the Education Act...the issue is not a lack of resources, protocol, people or even transport, because with compassion, we will always find a way...it’s as simple as cultivating compassion in our workforce...then implementation becomes what we do, because it’s the right thing to do. With determination and perseverance we can turn this terrible situation around..."

 

Video Clip of Botho Compassion Movement working in Jwaneng squatter camps, credit: Magdalena Whoolery

Additional issues include the provision of education for children over six and child health. A hopeful development is the allocation of two hectares of land for the homeless through the "Safe Space" project now in development.  The Botswana Foundation Trust, which was established by British High Commissioner Nick Pyle, gave funding to this project.  The key goals for the Botho Compassion Movement in Jwaneng are improving child nutrition, education, safety and documentation, and reducing infant mortality.

What you can do to help: Follow and support the organizations carrying out the work described in this article, listed and linked here:
Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) in South Africa (this is a GoFundMe page supporting Kangaroo Mother Care training in Botswana, to reduce infant mortality),
Botho Compassion Movement, Charter for Compassion,
REWA (Raising Education Within Africa), SensoBaby,
Ladies Circle of Botswana, La Leche League, Lady Khama Charitable Trust,
Masiela Trust Fund, Catholic Church in Botswana,
Ministry of Health in Botswana , The Botswana Police Department.
Sign and affirm the charter for Compassion for free here. Take a Stand: find a variety of ways to take compassionate action here.

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Botho Compassion Movement working in Jwaneng squatter camps. Photo Credit: Magdalena Whoolery

 

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