Local time: Thursday, 27 February 2020 05:11:18hrs
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Office of the President (OP)

As part of its monthly commitment to Community Service, the Office of the President (OP) 10/02/11 leant a helping hand to two organisations in our country that are focused on assisting needy and vulnerable youth.

In the afternoon H.E. the President, Lt. General Seretse Khama Ian Khama, presented a large food donation to the “Assist A Person” or AAP Home Based Care and Family Life Programme.

AAP is a local non-governmental organisation (NGO) that, since the year 2000, has been providing meals and day care services for children affected and infected by the HIV/AIDS scourge and additional challenges. It directly caters to the needs of over 1000 children in remote area villages, as well as at its Old Naledi Centre.

Today’s donation consisted of 46 sacks of maize (50kg) along with cartons of mealie meal, canned goods, milk tea and soup, as well as other foodstuffs including sweets and biscuits.

At the handover AAP founder, Mrs. Martha Rampa, thanked the President, noting that he has given material support to sustain her centre over the years. AAP Board Member Ms. Lee-Anne Bell further observed that it was fortunate to have a Government  that looked after people, thanking President Khama for his personal role in mobilising public and private support for grassroots organisations serving those most in need.

For his part the President praised those working in community services, such as AAP for keeping alive the values of compassion and Botho through their daily work, noting that there was no higher calling than that of providing genuine assistance to those in need.

Earlier in the day OP staff, led by the Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Mokgweetsi Masisi, and the Permanent Secretary to the President, Mr. Eric Molale, were at the Stepping Stones International Centre in Mochudi for their community service. There with the support of personnel from the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), they planted fruit trees and vegetables, completing work on a new garden they have contributed to the centre.

The Centre exists to provide afterschool programmes targeting orphaned and vulnerable youth from the ages 12-18, with outreach to families and the community.

At a short ceremony before the planting Minister Masisi reiterated Government’s commitment to Community Service Day, in partnership with the community stakeholders and others.

For her part the Founder and Executive Director of Stepping Stones, Mrs. Lisa Jamu, commended Government for taking the initiative to establish and promote backyard gardens as a means of reducing poverty through self sustenance while encouraging entrepreneurship. [The full text of Mrs. Jamu's remarks is reproduced below]

Community Service Day initiative was officially launched on the 5th November 2010 by His Excellency the President together with Cabinet Members. The purpose of this Day is to uplift disadvantaged communities; revive the spirit of compassion; and contribute to sustainable development. Each Ministry is thus expected to set aside one day each month to give back to the community.


[Salutations]…Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, friends

"Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has been, I have great faith in a seed. Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders."  -   Henry David Thoreau

The Bakgatla community and Stepping Stones International recognized and had faith in the “seeds” of youth and started operations in the district in December 2006. The afterschool and outreach program we provide for orphaned and vulnerable youth ages 12-18+, nurtures their mental, physical and emotional well-being and creates realizable opportunities for them to bloom and become self-sufficient.

The SSI programme, comprised of four core components, psychosocial support, life skills, leadership and advocacy and community mobilisation, lends to cultivating youth to find the leader within themselves and to achieve their dreams.  A life without dreams is like a garden without flowers.

Today, I commend the Botswana Government for taking the initiative to start these backyard gardens as a means to reduce poverty, encourage entrepreneurship and afford the opportunity for self-sustenance. You are making the dreams of many come alive.

The initiative of the Office of the President to plant an irrigated garden for the youth at SSI is a testimony to how socially responsible collaborative efforts from the government, private sector, and institutions can achieve an impact on the lives of youth.  In this case, the land was provided by the Catholic Diocese of Gaborone; person power, technical expertise, supplies and this event were provided by the Office of the President and the Ministry of Agriculture; the FACET foundation through SAFDICO provided the support for the leadership program which grooms the youth who will care for the garden; a company in the community, Mochudi Hardware provided the gate for the garden and SSI provides the quality programming to guide the youth.  These collaborative alliances emit the warmth, the water and the fertilizer to nurture our youth to grow into flourishing and productive members of society.

What grows in the garden is more than the vegetables and flowers but people. The hard work that has taken place over the past week and the planting that will take place today represent the seeds for nutritional food and the growth of our youth and community. We have recently measured the body mass index of our youth and found that 25% of them are underweight.  The garden will afford SSI the opportunity to improve nutritional intake of our youth. Furthermore, the youth will learn more about entrepreneurship, financial literacy, managing a business, nutrition, agriculture and serving the community through this project. Finally on a macro-scale this project is a stepping stone to achieving Vision 2016. In particular the community service demonstrates “A compassionate, just and caring nation” and the garden itself and gardeners highlight  “A Prosperous, Productive and Innovative Nation.” 

Stepping Stones International appreciates the planning, effort and innovation that has been injected into the project.  It is often said that a garden will not grow if there is no love, therefore to show our appreciation, I want to assure the Office of the President and all our collaborators that  this garden will thrive and produce wonders. SSI creates an environment of love for the youth and in turn the youth pass it on to caring for the garden and their community.


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