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Against all odss

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This week, we profile the extra ordinary lives of two women, who in their own right rose to meet the challenges of life.

One driven to change the course of her own life positively and the other dedicating her’s to assisting others to conquer difficult struggles to achieve what seemed like impossible dreams.

Although she was a bright student, Mpho Dintwe, 29, had to put her studies on the back burner for 10 years to care for a sick mother.

Six children later, Dintwe enrolled at Limkokwing as a first year student and she is now well on her way to becoming a graduate.

She said, “We were raised by a strong woman who did not have much but gave what she could to provide a home for us. Even though life was not a bed of roses there was love in abundance.”

The death of her mother however thrust Dintwe in motherhood responsibilities as she was forced to look after her three younger siblings.

She also had her second born child at that time but went on to have four more children.

“My mother and her siblings had fallen out before her passing so I didn’t have any extended family to speak off. It was the need to love and to be loved that drove me to have my own family. I longed for affection and deeply believed that my own flesh and blood would never forsake me so I had many children.“

But with six mouths to feed, Dintwe had to find work.

She registered with Ipelegeng and did manual labour including clearing of grass by the roadside.

“It was tough but I could provide the basics. We also received great assistance from the church of God of Prophecy (Palapye Branch) and from the council through the social welfare programme. They provided food baskets and masiela vouchers/coupons and these went a long way in keeping us cared for. I worked in Ipelegeng from 2007 to 2013.”

Through encouragement, Dintwe applied to tertiary institutions and ultimately enrolled with Limkokwing University of Creative Technology.

Despite everyday hardships of juggling school with family on a shoestring budget Dintwe is determined to pass well.

“I have been blessed to get a second chance in life and I’m grateful to those that have stood by me. I only wish there was more support for orphans because navigating through life, as a young person without guidance is tough.

“However, I am proud of my children and each day, no matter how difficult it gets, I’m ready to put my best foot forward. My greatest wish is to graduate and find good employment and be able to continue to provide for them.”

LORATO MOALUSI SAKUFIWA– Kagisano Society Women’s Shelter CEO

Lorato

Sakufiwa was exposed to social work as a young woman doing her national service with government over 25 years ago.

She went on to study social work extensively and became a staunch proponent of social welfare services.

Through a number of programmes, Sakufiwa and her dedicated team at Kagisano Society – Women’s Shelter have strived to make a difference in families over the years.

“Relationships including marriage are wonderful but they can be trying at times bringing out the best and the worst in people. It is through the worst of times that people need our support. Objectivity and rationale is often furthest from mind and regrettable choices are often made during such painful times. Each day we attend to both men and women who are broken and offer them hope. There is life after violence, hope following abuse and through specialized counseling we assist individuals, couples and families.”

Women’s shelter also exposes clients to legal services and provides emergency and temporary shelter to women and their children.

The shelter works closely with other stakeholders and engage community mobilization to create capacity to prevent and respond to gender based violence.

The 2012 Botswana Gender Indicator Study statistics indicate that 67% of women have been a victim of violence and 45% of men admitted to having perpetrated gender violence; conversely only 1% reported the crimes.

“People are weary of reporting as they do not have faith in the system, but we see more people willing to open up and seek help. It has also become apparent that there are higher cases of emotional abuse against physical abuse and at times people do not report this as they may not have obvious signs of being abused but abuse is prevalent and must be addressed.”

Sakufiwa believes that our patriarchal society contributes adversely to gender violence.

At all levels of society there is gender inequality and this breeds disrespect with one gender having an upper hand.

Through education we can bridge the gap and have all members of society co-exist in peace, that’s what we call Kagisano in Setswana