Masiela Trust Fund this year marks the tenth anniversary of its existence and its leaders have admitted the journey has been difficult although it has made big achievements.
The Fund was launched in 2001, under the auspices of the then President of Botswana, Festus Mogae, and it was meant to complement government initiatives in caring and providing for the ever escalating number of orphans in the country.
As part of their celebrations, the Fund plans to embark on a 20km sponsored walk.
According to Masiela Board Chairman, Kholisani Solo, the past years have been a bumpy ride with many achievements as well as challenges.
“We have grown from a tiny to a big organisation. We have increased our catchments area and our coverage is almost countrywide,” said Solo. “Masiela has had projects in Jwaneng, Ramotswa, Tswapong, Maun, Palapye, and Mahalapye to mention a few. This translates to more orphans being helped. The fund accommodates and feeds kids wherever necessary. We also build hostels for orphans and, as a result of all these expansions, we meet different challenges, including financial and human resource. We have volunteers who are very dedicated but we need more, especially in villages outside Gaborone where we offer help.”
Solo says many people and some companies are still reluctant to offer support as they believe Masiela Fund is sponsored by government.
“But for the past two years, we have not been receiving anything from the state and if we don’t receive any help from the private sector we fear Masiela might have to close their doors due to lack of funding.”
Masiela board members, Gulaam Abdoolah, who was requested to join the board by former minister of Local Government, Margaret Nasha, who is also Patron of the fund, said, “Children are the country’s single largest asset, and it is unfortunate that due to HIV and AIDS problem we have this influx of Masiela (orphans) but we have to deal with it. The government spends millions of pula supporting orphans and I want to personally change the face of Masiela Trust in the sense that we do not want to duplicate what government is doing.”
He continued: “I would like to concentrate more on the human rights of orphans. We have a big problem of abuse, especially in the rural areas and these include physical and emotional abuse as well as that of property grabbing. Orphans are losing their inheritance to families, so there are many areas of human rights where we can help. I see this as a partnership with government going forward.”
Mr Gulaam says that though local companies have not been supporting, it is not entirely their fault.
He revealed that Masiela survives on donations and has been operating on a very tight budget.
“This has hindered us from advertising openly what we are doing, so I can’t say people are not supporting us. I think we still have a lot of work to go out there and make people aware of what Masiela is doing, so they support us.”
Going forward we have to create a sense of awareness of what the trust does. We want the trust to gain more mileage and support. We are going to go back to government for support. We want all orphans to know that Masiela Trust is there for them and we will do anything in our power to help and be there for them in their times of need,” Gulaam assured.
Last week, Masiela Trust travelled to Jwaneng where they donated clothes to residents of Nagamphabatho, a settlement on the outskirts of Jwaneng.