Sunday, March 26, 2023

Bokamoso adopts rustic Mmopane school

When multitudes of Mmopane village residents packed the grounds of the only primary school there to celebrate the joining of hands with the nearby Bokamoso Private Hospital, some were not aware of how the event came about.

The 39-year old school was celebrating its adoption by the Lenmed Health Bokamoso Private Hospital-one of the Lenmed health group of hospitals in Botswana and South Africa.

However, to the event’s steering committee, the event was excitedly known to be the results of smart brains of a former pupil of the school. An organiser and sponsor of Independence Day soccer tournaments in the village; Chairman of National Constituency League Committee; former committee member of Regional League committee; former Councilor for Gaphatshwa ward and the current Administrator and Research Officer in Kweneng South East constituency office.

It was when the Head Teacher of the School, Queen Diana Manthe stood to give background of how the event came about that those curious eyes from the majority of the audience saw the man, Moemedi Mokgachane. Out of the more than 11-member-steering committee, it was only he who was called to the podium to be introduced to the gathered merry makers.

“This is the young man who saw to it that we gather here today. He was my pupil in this school in 1984. He was a well behaved boy, excellent in sports, and very good in class work. I could tell even at that tender age that he would one day, in events like this be sharing head table with me.

He has passion for this school as he visits it regularly. After receiving news that the government of Botswana is introducing Adopt a School Program, I informed him, knowing that he would not disappoint me. He did not,” she said to a loud round of applause.

In an interview after the event, Moemedi (the name means representative or delegate or spokesperson) who attributed his commitment to the meaning of his first name said Manthe was just a teacher in the school in the 1980s.

He was by then doing his Standard five. She did not teach him but because of his outstanding character, conduct and abilities she knew him as did many other teachers in the school then. He was not a monitor as their primary school then did not have monitors, but he was one of those favored for leadership where need arose.

Though he did not consider himself very good in class work he was certain about his sports performance. There he excelled. “I was a sprinter. I ran 100 meters, 200meters as well as 4×1 and 4×4 relay. I was in the National Athletic Team from 1992 to 1996. In 1993 I was faster than anyone who participated in 100m and 200m runs in the country. I quit running in 1996 after sustaining muscle pull. My muscle got cut and that marked the end of my career in athletics, but I never stopped supporting the genre,” he said.

Back on the background of the adopt a school project, Moemedi said he received word from the head teacher that in the meeting they held in Molepolole they as school heads and other community leaders were told that the government has come up with this kind of the program so as to try and augment the limited resources the government had in educating Batswana. Since he never stops thinking of how to improve the livelihood of his community, he said, his mind thought for hours how and where he would get hearing ears. It then crossed his mind that the nearby hospital might develop interest if only he thoroughly planned for an approach.

“I just drove to the hospital, not knowing who to talk to. But along the hospital’s corridors I met the Chief Executive Officer. I had seen the man in one of the gatherings somewhere. I told him of the situation in the only primary school in the village I grew up in, which has made me what I am, and I have it so close to my heart. The man listened and advised me to go meet his Secretary. I did. I had a warm reception and I could foresee I was bound to succeed. They asked me to approach the leadership of the village, form a responsible committee and write a letter outlining all our needs at the school and sending it to the hospital; with copy to the Ministry of Education and skills Development,” he said.

The response he got from the community leadership in chiefs, Councilors, Village Development Committees (VDCs) and Village Extension Teams (VETs) was awe-inspiring. Within a few days the steering committee for the project was set up and the letter written with priorities thoroughly drawn and weighed. The government’s procedure on the initiative was made and it is the one that extended the beginning of the implementation from November 2012 to Friday last week.

It came to his attention that the hospital had prior to his visit been contemplating adopting the whole village but did not know how they would go about doing that. At the back of their mind the hospital administration had taken heed of extending a helping hand to the nearby community as some form of the social responsibilities the government urged the corporate world to partake in.

They wanted to have regular wellness day activities in the village where they would avail their facilities and staff for free utilization by the residents to check for both commutable and non-commutable diseases. They would also support by any other means possible.

And so when Moemedi approached them things became easier and it was clear where they should start.

The old school had a lot of challenges. Shortage of class rooms, absence of school library, lack of modern hygienic toilets (pupils still use limited number of out dated pit latrines) as well as shortage of books and even chalk boards are but some of the problems rocking it. It did not come as a surprise when the head teacher reported that the school’s results had been dwindling recently and only rose a little bit when the teachers searched their own pockets and bought affordable resources with their own money.

Thus on top of the known initiatives in the village like the Mmopane Independence Cup, the community’s representative-self appointed- has made the dreams of the children; teachers and community at large come true. He is happy that beside s the construction of buildings (including repairing of cracked floors); which will start with construction of toilets as the renewal of painting of the school has already started, the hospital is going to help with wellness of the children and community. So from worrisome status the village and community is bound to a higher, desirable social status. He did not know how much the hospital would spend in the school’s initiative. Likening the partnership with marriage he said; “You do not question how much you will spent in your marriage with your spouse. In the like manner whatever the hospital will end up spending on the school or community does not matter. In fact expenses do not count here but the quality of partnership the union shall bring forth. The school has to improve performance so that it can be attractive and not let down a renowned group of hospitals.”

Asked how far he learnt leadership and community service, Moemedi says he was probably born a leader. He was a Prefect from Junior Secondary School. He said after completing secondary education at Gaborone Senior Secondary School, he did not go and participate in the Tirelo Sechaba (National Service) because he was in the national team. He did marketing job part time. He later joined Game shops as Lad Assistant in the shop’s photo production department. He later went for training in South Africa. In 2001 he joined a German company called Wurth as Sales person, covering the whole of Botswana, supplying consumer foods. In 2003 he had to choose between being based in Mafikeng South Africa and joining politics. He had won the BDP primary elections and thought it unfair to abandon the people who have shown trust on him for a career in South Africa. He therefore opted for competing for the general elections the following year where he won Gaphatshwa ward.


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