In Botswana, breast cancer is the second most common killer among women. Although the disease is rapidly becoming the most common form of cancer in the country the good news is that if detected early enough, it can be treated. Unfortunately we continue to lose many lives to the disease every year which research has shown is largely due to late diagnosis.
Conceptualised in 2008 as a fund raiser for patients who needed financial aid for breast cancer, Journey of Hope has indeed grown in leaps and bounds over the years. In 2010 they created an annual awareness campaign event called The Big Journey. During the campaign women riders use pink Vespas as a marketing tool to hold testimonial appearances, talks, breast examinations and awareness workshops across local communities. Their main objective has always been to spread the message of knowledge and hope about breast cancer throughout the country. In 2012 Botswana Life Insurance Limited joined forces with them to create a conducive environment where women and men could be assisted to carry out breast examinations in privacy.
On Wednesday, Journey of Hope received a donation of P100, 000 from BLI to enable them to plan well for 2016 knowing that they have financial support to carry out their mandate. “We are proud of our brief history with Journey of Hope. We have worked with them long enough to assure ourselves that what they are doing is making a positive impact in people’s lives,” said Deputy Chief Executive Officer at BLI Bilkiss Moorad. She commended Journey of Hope for doing a remarkable job in creating awareness about breast cancer and encouraging early detection. “Their mandate is very much aligned to ours at BLI and if we grow together we will certainly save many lives together,” she continued.
“It is not every day that we meet and work with companies that are willing to go all out and help better the communities in which they operate, this donation will really go a long way in helping us achieve our mandate,” said Journey of Hope’s Onica Lekuntwane. She said Journey of Hope is eternally grateful for what BLI has done for them and hopes that they continue helping organisations to better livelihoods.
Moorad said the feedback BLI received from Journey of Hope about the increasing number of examinations carried out this year assures them that their support has not been in vain. “According to the statistics that they shared with us, in 2012 alone a total of 1638 breast examinations were performed, 232 of which were men. This is compared to only 800 in 2011,” Moorad said. She deemed the breast cancer statistics in the country are quite unnerving. Even more so is the fact that many patients go undiagnosed and therefore untreated until very late. “As a life insurer it is in our own interest to insure that dread diseases such as cancer are detected very early and given the right treatment in order to reduce mortality rates, extend the lives of the affected and improve the quality of life of families in our communities,” she said.