It is lunchtime at Old Naledi near the Market Centre and scores of children under the age of ten, with shabby clothing and holding plastic containers, play around a parked mini-bus on whose side is printed the legend: ‘Adopt-A-Person Orphanage Centre (AAP).
“This are some of the children that the AAP Orphanage Centre has identified in this area,” says AAP coordinator, Martha Rampa, pointing to a group of children, who have now gradually gathered before her, awaiting to be served lunch in their containers. “They come from an array of families, including the under-privileged, negligent parents and from families ravaged by the HIV/AIDS pandemic.”
Every lunch-time, Rampa the Good Samaritan and her crew dispatch a loaded mini-bus to the area to feed the disadvantaged kids, most of whom coming from a nearby primary school.
Even though they have identified the needy and the poverty stricken, Rampa says the initiative has attracted quite a considerable number of children some of whom do not fall in the category.
“We started with a small group but today we have about 204 children that we have identified in Gaborone and the neighbouring outskirts. Although this is an initiative to cushion the impoverished children, we do not send away children that visit us. We give food and clothes indiscriminately.”
A voluntary organization, AAP Orphanage Centre started in 2002 ÔÇô the resultant efforts of former president Mogae’s call for the nation to join hands and fight the HIV/AIDS pandemic, which was at the time ravaging the nation and the world at large.
Starting with a paltry 57 volunteers, AAP grew and currently boasts of about 900 volunteers, the majority of whom have undergone vigorous training in counseling provided by renowned academics and pastors.
“The volunteers took 6 weeks counseling training provided by university lecturers and pastors. Pastors were brought in to provide morale,” Rampa explained.
While some local corporate institutions have been forthcoming providing some assistance, including clothes, food and finances, Rampa believes more could be done, particularly on the monetary side.
“Some of the children travel long distances and need satisfactory clothing, especially during winter seasons. We have just identified a secondary school student who traverses from Kgale School to his home village in Mmopane on foot and with the little resources we have, we have hardly managed to assist.”
Fadzi Whande Mutambiranwa, a member of AAP who is well acquainted with the centre from her decade stay in Botswana, but currently living in Australia, is saddened by the pathetic conditions the underprivileged children have to go through.
Together with her team, which includes Australians Paula Currie and her son, Jacob, the trio has traveled as far as Mmantshwabisi, Mmanoko and the neighbouring places to obtain what the situation on the ground entails and plead for more assistance from willing Australian companies on their return there.
“The situation in Mmantshwabisi was the worst,” Fadzi said. “People live in debilitating conditions. One old man told us he was nearly bitten by a snake inside his makeshift abode while another single old man, suffering from an incurable disease, told us he fell into the fire trying to help himself because he has nobody to take care for him.”
Back in Australia, Fadzi has accumulated a lot of clothing for AAP Orphanage Center.
“The people there are generous. When they heard about AAP and its goals they were forthcoming, providing clothing for the cause. We could have come with some but the finances thwarted our plans and the goods are stacked there.”
“We just wish for a generous donor or shipping company to financially assist us to ship the container of clothes and other donated items to help the poverty stricken children here. We worked so hard collecting and pleading for these items for the children and it really pains me that all we can do now is to look at the items, unable to ship the container here and, as you can see, these things would make such a big difference to these innocent souls you see around you.”
She estimates that the container might cost in the region of P40, 000 to ship.
Besides Woolworths, Rampa thanks immensely such corporate entities as BEMCO, Gaborone Sun and Standard Bank employees, among others, for their contributions that make AAP vision stay alive.
The Center can be contacted on their office line 3923294 and Mrs Rampa on 72379361.