The Botswana Retired Nurses Society (BORNUS), a society made up of some Tlokweng residents volunteers and retired nurses, is appealing for support from the nation to take care of its more than 1177 clients.
The society, formed in 1999 by some retired nurses after the then president of Botswana, Festus Mogae, declared war on HIV/AIDS, currently takes care of 700 elders and 477 children who are chronically ill or have been affected by HIV/AIDS.
Despite taking care of so many patients, the Society operates from one caravan, which is used as a consultation room and administration office.
Registered with the Botswana Registrar of Societies in 2003 after encountering numerous challenges at its birth, the good Samaritans who formed it did not falter and fall but rather solicited funds from the Ministry of Health and from community leaders to procure necessary resources which would help them run the society.
Mavis Kewakae, the Center Coordinator, said along the way, they were helped by the Village Development Committee (VDC), KBL, and the Global Fund, which unfortunately stopped funding them.
She said the Tlokweng community has been receptive and supportive, and that the village’s Member of Parliament, Olebile Gaborone, has for the past three years been organizing annual fund raising dinners for them.
Kewakae said some grocery stores donate food weekly and the Tlokweng community helps a lot with other necessities, giving an example of an elderly woman over the age of 79 who has offered to donate a bag of potatoes every month.
But despite all these efforts, Kewakae noted that they are still faced with the accommodation problem as they have many clients yet they don’t have infrastructure, saying they currently depend on weather conditions as they attend to their clients under a tree.
NACA, she said, has promised them a caravan which will however not fulfill their accommodation needs as they had wanted to increase the number of their patients.
The Society, which runs as a day care centre, supports and counsels on HIV, cancer, diabetes, stroke and cancer patients who are given hand on experience in hair plaiting, gardening and sewing. They are then advised to apply their skills in the market after recovering to earn a living.
The Society also takes care of low achieving students, especially HIV orphans and all vulnerable children by giving them extra lessons to help them catch up.
Street children are also rehabilitated and given food in the morning and afternoon.
The long-serving registered nurse said her dream is to see BORNUS spread throughout the country as there are a lot of people country wide who need care, adding that they currently have only two branches in Kanye and Morwa in Mochudi.
One Project Officer, Lesego Mabona, who is also one of the founding members of BORNUS, said despite their challenges, she is motivated by her love to help those disadvantaged saying “people never close doors on us as they realize the value of what we are doing, both chiefs and the VDC have whole heartedly received us”.
Lucretia Keodibetse, the Project Coordinator who joined BORNUS in 2008, said passion and love motivates her to help others, adding that God has blessed us in different ways, so those graced should share with those less privileged.
“There is nothing more gratifying than waking up in the morning knowing that you are going to help somebody who doesn’t have what you have,” she said.
A patient, 76-year-old Charles Rapoo, said he enrolled with the day care centre in 2006 and has since been helped a lot as during the day he is brought to the centre to be taken care of and not spend the day alone at home.
He asked for clothing from the nation as he said winter was just a little too extreme for them.
An HIV positive patient, who also suffers from cancer, Malebogo Oagile, said when she came to the centre in January of this year she had a lot of stress but since then it has subsided. She thanked BORNUS for the counseling and support they had offered her. She pleaded for food and clothing but, mostly, for money to help them get accommodation.
Kewakae said they have planned a fund raising lunch for the 27th of July 2009 at Tsholofelo Hall to raise money towards building shelter for their clients.
She pleads with private companies, individuals and the nation at large to help their cause, urging them to call 3132276 for further information.