From grass to grace - the story of Botswana’s wonder twins

15 Jul 2019

BY LASELIE SEETSO

Molly Malomo and Kelly Sebolai’s are true graduates from the school of hard knocks. The twins were thrust into the trials and tribulations of life at a very young age; abandoned by their mother, suffering temper tantrums of an abusive father, going to bed without food and as if that was not enough, having to bury both their parents.

Miraculously, the pair’s traumatic upbringing was their philosopher stone which resulted in analchemical transformation of the base matter of their personality into spiritual gold.

In their campaign, Brought Up Just Right , Kelly and Molly recount their inspirational grass to grace story about two lives that have turned out exceptionally well in spite of unfavorable  circumstances.

The identical twins opened up to theSunday Standard last week, in an interview so frank it threatened to flush to the surface their deepest wounds, their worst fears and their rawest emotional trigger points, but the twins spoke about their past without any hint of anger. They seem to have undergone a personality sea change in the fashion of Shakespeare’s Tempest, where sea change refers to a shipwrecked death at sea. That is a sea-wrought alteration; a deep, permanent, almost alchemical transformation from one substance into another – sand into pearl – mortal flesh into precious stone.

“Words are powerful.  The Brought Up Just Right campaign is very much about words that build. We express such power in writing, motivating and or inspiring people with our own story. We have been doing these mostly in schools and through poems and songs”, they told the Sunday Standard.

“We pray that God helps us to do more. We have been to schools like Bokamoso CJSS, Nanogang CJSS and Good Hope SSS where we had successful sessions with students. We shared our experiences with them in a bid to motivate, encourage and build them into people with purpose and drive for success. ”

The pair taps into their torturous past which has become grist for their mill of inspiration. “After our mother abandoned us, we spent our childhood with our grandmother in Serowe where we barely had enough food on our table and clothes on our backs. Our father tried to provide for us although it was never enough. Although it was particularly tough, there were valuable lessons learnt. In fact it is where our sense of morality and spirituality was forged and nurtured. Initially we begrudged our mother for abandoning us at such a tender age until she passed on. One of the things that are inevitable especially in our case where family dynamics are rattled is abuse. The night our elder sister shared the family experience we us made us realize just how much mom loved her children. There were nights when my father’s temper got the best of him, and he would point a loaded gun at the whole family. My sister was always in tears as she recalled how they used to huddle together, with my mother at the front looking through the barrel of a loaded gun, prepared to take the first bullet. She accepted that, after having stayed with my father for a long time and having six children by him that he no longer adored her as the mother of his children and that, if anything, her existence alone annoyed the one man she ever truly loved. Her presence, therefore, presented a danger, not only to her, but to her children as well. She decided to go as far away from the family as possible.”

In their motivational talks and literature, they encourage people to learn to accept when situations are no longer favorable and walk away while they still can. “We mustn’t be afraid to journey on to new chapters. We will often need to release ourselves from the bondage of abusive relationships, drugs and even unworthy friendships and allow God to redirect our journey into meaningful and purposeful lives. We will come out victorious and stronger”, they said.

They recall that growing up without a mother was very challenging, and their sister Ndaa has to grow up very fast to mother the troubled family.

The whole interview is a patchwork of personal experiences, bits of home grown philosophy and nuggets of motivational wisdom.

“We cannot run away from the fact that we will have to forge and foster friendships and partnerships but I’ll not tell you to keep friends that have the same principles as you, as principles are also uniquely shaped by our unique personalities; but I’ll tell you to have friends that appreciate and accept your foundation of morality. To be safe, be around people that share the same values as yourself and in that way, when you fall short, they will be the first to caution you and not cheer you on when you miss a step. The value of friendships cannot be overemphasized as it’s where our socialization skills are honed. But one should be careful of the company they keep because bad company corrupts.

The Brought Up Just Rightcampaign also aims at sensitizing students about the dangers of alcohol and drugs. “Drugs are not just body altering but are also life altering in the long run. The high is temporary but the scars the damage they leave in their path can be for life.

Although Molly and Kelly have never used alcohol and drugs, they witnessed the horror of living with an addict. They narrate how in their childhood they always had to look behind their shoulder for their father’s next alcohol induced tantrums. After years of binge drinking and chain smoking, his heart ultimately turned against him.The Brought Up Just Rightcampaign draws from this personal experience in the crusade to promote sober habits and the spirit to face challenges head on without depending on drugs and alcohol as a crutch.

The pair narrated how their difficult upbringing was a crucible for personal and spiritual growth.

It seems those days of walking to school barefooted and going to bed hungry revealed the pure gold at the heart of their nature, qualities like beauty, delight, awe, deep passion and kindness, generosity and tenderness. “There were times when faith and hope threatened to leave us, but we learnt that the pain we were suffering was the fire forging our strength. In our campaign, we teach young people to learn how to embrace painful moments and use them to catapult themselves into the future. We’re not saying people should stay in abusive situations but that they should have a positive mindset, walking away when necessary or seeking help. The mind is the greatest asset one can have. Therefore we should jealously guard our temples.

Our aim as Brought Up Just Right is to cultivate positive spirits in young people using a practical approach. As we interact with young people, we learnt that a lot of the problems they share with us are similar. This is why we came up with the book Brought Up Just Right. We don’t shy away from the fact that people helped us along the way, among them Masiela Trust Fund. We refer some of the cases we come across in schools to them. We are adopting this initiative into a structure so that we may better serve people. We want to be able to enroll young people into a program and monitor them until they achieve their intended purpose and goals. We’re grateful to our sister and siblings, our God given Catholic aunt, our grandmother and most importantly our parents. Our mother sacrificed herself for us, a gesture we mistook for selfishness until she died without our forgiveness. We learnt the lesson of forgiveness the hard way.”