Former journalist, Archibald Ngakayagae, is an ardent communicator with a passion for helping the less privileged.
He is the founder and Chairperson of CSI-Concept Foundation which organises the annual charity walk; The Desert Bush Walk.
This week the 41-year-old Serowe born Ngakayagae talks to Voice Reporter, Portia Ngwako-Mlilo, about the inspiration and motive behind the charitable bush walk.
Q. What inspired you to start the bush walk?
A. The Desert Bush Walk was initiated by two activists in 2014, myself and a friend called Amy Benson.
We are passionate about giving back to our communities, particularly the underprivileged.
We are driven by the spirit of volunteerism and our main objective is to raise funds towards sustainable educational projects and disadvantaged children in our society.
Q. How challenging was it to start this project?
A. The first walk was not that challenging though it was our first experience.
We did not have a lot of people to participate in the walk, but we achieved our objective which was to raise funds towards the construction of a creative learning center to house a carpentry workshop and a library at Sese Primary School.
The walk is now more challenging because it attracts participants from all over Botswana and Southern Africa hence the need for adequate preparations to meet their needs.
Q. How do you think the library will change the lives of Sese pupils?
A. We believe it will help the students and staff in their studies and personal development.
Students will utilise the library for research to improve their learning and academic results.
Q. Apart from raising funds for the less privileged, how else does the event benefit the community?
A. The Desert Bush Walk also promotes our country and Jwaneng as a tourism destination for local and international tourists.
It also helps in socio-economic development as businesses are always gaining during the event with hotels being fully booked.
All businesses benefit, including streets vendors or small businesses.
Q. From your past experience, where do you think you need to improve for the future success of the event?
A. We need to improve a lot in the registration of more participants, sourcing of sponsorship and early preparations.
It is important to establish partnerships with other key stakeholders such as the council, local private companies and government departments which would make all the planning and implementations very easy for our organising committee.
Q. What other activities are you going to have at the event?
A. One big addition to this year’s events is the aerobics and spinning and there will also be an after party.
We have also organized transport for participants; buses will be transporting them from Gaborone to Jwaneng and back after the walk.
Q. There’s only one week left before the event. How are the preparations going?
A. We are done with the preparations as the organising committee and logistics are conveniently in place for the participants.
Q. Have you checked with meteorologists on the weather forecast?
A. The weather changes over a short period of time, so we will be in contact with the Department of Meteorological Services before the end of the week for any updates.
We will share the information on our social media platforms and radio so that we can advice participants accordingly on what to wear during the walk.
Q. What are your future plans with the walk?
A. You will be surprised to learn that when we started this walk it was intended to be a once-off event.
The feedback was so overwhelming with the participants pleading with us to hold another walk last year.
The event has grown and is now run by my foundation, CSI-Concepts Foundation with the support of the organising committee.
Together we have decided to make the walk an annual event.
We are working on bringing on board new partners and of course broaden our target beneficiaries and cover the whole country on sustainable educational projects.
There is also a possibility that we may add another walk of its kind in summer at a different location.
Q. Are your donations only focused in the Jwaneng area?
A. Of late we’ve only been concentrating on the Jwaneng-Mabutsane area but this year we donated our 2016 proceeds to New Xanagas Primary School in the Ghanzi District.
As the event grows we will cover the whole country in terms of beneficiaries.
Q. What advice can you give to those who want to start charity projects?
A. Charity Projects are not that easy to embark on. First of all you must have the spirit of giving back because that’s what drives a charitable vision into a reality.
You must be determined and have the much needed energy to knock on all doors to get partners and sponsors in order to achieve your goal.
Whenever you feel like giving up, think about the people you had wanted to assist and they must be the ultimate priority in your life.
Give everything out and remember you will never get poor by giving back to your community.
Q. Often there are issues of mismanagement of funds by charitable organizations. How do you ensure that there is transparency?
A. Great question. We at CSI-Foundation in conjunction with The Desert Bush Walk LOC have decided that we are going to allow all the sponsors and partners to have full access to our accounts on request at any given time.
Another obligation as the organisers is that every year we start from a clean slate. That is to say, all the proceeds from the walk go towards the intended projects and we start afresh with zero Thebe in our account.
Q. You once were in the media industry as a journalist. What good and bad memories do you have from then?
A. (Laughter) Where do I start? I think I was born a journalist. I have done everything to do with media.
I started my journey while I was a student at Swaneng Hill School, where I used to produce the school’s newsletter and being a photographer.
I went to Tirelo Sechaba and I was attached to the Department of Information and Broadcasting as a reporter.
During my university days I was freelancing for newspapers and worked at Radio Botswana before joining BTV as a News Producer/Reporter.
There have been many highlights throughout this journey but none of them is more fulfilling than the feeling of breaking a story that changes the lives of people.
While at BTV we were free to pitch any story idea and follow it up.
My lowest moments were, of course when I met resistance from relevant officials who were never ready to grant me interviews as a reporter.
Q. Who is your inspiration?
A. I have a lot of people that I look up to who help me to view life differently.
First of all I’m inspired by my mother, Gobona Ngakayagae.
She always tells me that ‘if you plan something it’s already half done’.
Another source of inspiration is my beautiful wife, Roselyn Ngakayagae, who made a man out of this boy, and my two lovely kids Lebopo and Rorisang.
They are such an inspiration. Professionally I have a lot of support from many people but one man I call the “submarine” because I hardly mention him though he is my all round mentor, Debswana Managing Director, Balisi Bonyongo.
Q. Your last word?
A. I wish to humbly extend my gratitude to the Board of Trustees, LOC and volunteers, our sponsors and partners for making the Desert Bush Walk-winter a success.
I would like to also thank the media, both print and electronic, for their continued support.
Q. Thank God It’s Friday, what are your plans for the weekend?
A. It’s a busy weekend, we will be attending Galaxy FC victory party and then push the last preps with the LOC getting ready for the walk.