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Kasane, Botswana

Friday I left Zambia, crossing the river to Botswana. I have been staying with Keith and Robin Honey who run a mission organization, Africa Crossroads (AC), in the Chobe area. They also have a social work coordinator, Carrie, living with them and working with AC. It has been great to learn about their work and hang out with fellow Texans for the week (yes, they are all from Texas). I have also been able to learn about other projects in the community. Kasane is the town closest to Chobe National Park so there is a lot of tourist traffic and many game lodges. This is also the governmental center of the region, so there are many government workers. The Batswana (people of Botswana) of this region face many challenges such as poverty, alcoholism, abuse, early pregnancy, dysfunctional families, lack of education, and health challenges. The people I was able to meet this week are working to improve the lives of the Batswana.

FAS poster developed by Africa Crossroads

On Saturday I attended a workshop sponsored by Africa Crossroads that addressed the issue of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). FAS affects children whose mothers drink alcohol during pregnancy and results in mental disability, characteristic facial features, and slow growth (FAS children are usually ten percent smaller than their peers). FAS is the most severe form of the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) – which range from mild mental delays, internal organ defects (especially heart problems), more serious brain damage, all the way up to full blown FAS. Drinking alcohol at any time during pregnancy can affect the developing baby. The first few weeks and months are the most crucial time for development so the damage can be done before some mothers even know they are pregnant. With the high rate of unplanned pregnancies and prevalence of alcohol abuse, many children in this area are affected. The workshop included health workers and educators from the community, as they are dealing with the mothers and children affected by FAS and FASD on a daily basis. A phenomenal woman, Leana, from the Foundation for Alcohol Related Research in South Africa came up to teach about FAS and FADS. At the end of the workshop there was a great response from the community and we are having a follow up meeting tonight to discuss how to educate the community about the consequences of alcohol use during pregnancy. 

Robin Honey, Keith Honey, and Leana at the FAS workshop

I attended worship at a small international church in Kasane on Sunday. After church some of the international folks working here in the Kasane area gathered at the Honey home for lunch and games. It was great to get to know their stories and have fun together. I was also thankful for a day of worship, rest, and fellowship.

Church

Monday I visited a school run by one of the local churches. It serves the poorest area of Kasane, providing a preschool in the mornings and after school activities for school aged children. Many of these children are not well looked after, so the interaction and love they get at school is very important. The young ones also get a meal at lunch, which may be their only meal of the day. The day I visited the children sang me many songs and I taught them a new verse of “Head, Shoulder, Knees, and Toes.” They were also talking about family and each child drew a picture of their families. There is one Motswana woman who runs the program by herself six days a week. Please pray that she will be encouraged to continue to teach and care for the children.

Drawing families

Then on Tuesday I shadowed Octavius, a Peace Corps volunteer who is working with BOFWA, Botswana Family Welfare Association. This is an organization that provides health education, counseling, and care – especially in regard to sexual health and family planning. The clinic in Kasane is focused on helping youth (ages 10-29) so it runs workshops and programs in the area in addition to having the clinic. Octavius helps in the clinic, works in conjunction with the local government, and runs some of BOFWA’s programs for children and youth. When I was visiting he was preparing for the next day’s DES club, which is for children ages 8 to 12. DES stands for Delay Early Sex and teaches children to have confidence in themselves, educates them about sex, and encourages them to know that they have a choice about engaging in sexual activity. In this area it has become culturally acceptable for young people to have sex and it is often very hard for a girl to refuse if a boy or man propositions her. BOFWA’s vision is “for every Motswana to have choice for a healthy and productive family now and beyond.” Please pray for Octavius and BOFWA as they educate and care for the people they serve.

Octavius at the BOFWA office

Today (Wednesday) I have been with Carrie, Africa Crossroad’s social work coordinator. This morning we visited a preschool for OVC (orphans and vulnerable children) which is near the AC office. These children are mostly orphans so the school cares for them in many ways. Although most of the children live with extended family they are often not cared for and even abused. The children get a bath, brush their teeth, and are provided breakfast and lunch each day at school. In the same complex there is also a youth library where kids can come to read, play games, and have a safe place to hang out. It was wonderful to see these projects that the community has put in place to help their young ones, please pray that resources and caring people will continue to be provided for this school, library, and projects like them. 

The children's toothbrushes at the OVC preschool

The Lord's Prayer - Carrie and kids at the OVC preschool

Tomorrow will be my last full day in Botswana. I am planning to visit the game park in the morning, then go on a river safari in the afternoon. After a week learning about all the challenges here it will be good to see the magnificent beauty of this place as well. Then on Friday I will head to Zimbabwe. Finally, please pray for Keith and Robin Honey and Carrie as they work to support and minister to the community in Kasane in so many ways. I am so grateful for the way they have opened their home, ministry, and lives to me over this past week.

As night falls elephants come to a waterhole

Posted September 19, 2012

Comments

What a full week, Rebecca! Thank you for sharing it with us. Will pray for all the life-giving work being done in Kasane. Safe travels to Zimbabwe!

Beverly Bartlett on September 19, 2012

Wonderful experience, Rebecca. Thanks for sharing and please give our greetings to our friends and partners in ministry at the CCAP in Zim! Blessings, Don

Don Wahlig on September 19, 2012

What an intense experience your travel is -after just a few days! Thanks for providing us a glimpse. I'm eagerly awaiting your report on your activities in Zimbabwe.

Kathy H on September 19, 2012

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