Blessed is the hand that gives
Her journey as a journalist opened her eyes to the plight of the poor and motivated her to make a difference. She chose to help the less privileged schoolchildren with school shoes. In an interview with MMIKA SOLOMON Chandapiwa Baputaki opens up about her love for people and children in particular.
Your name is not new to many people in this country.But just as a courtesy please introduce yourself on how you would want to be addressed.
My names are Chandapiwa Baputaki. I was born 34 years ago. I originate from Nkange village in the North East District. I am single mum of two beautiful daughters aged 9 and 15 years.
Why all the smiles?
I always smile. I have reasons to smile.
Is that your approach to life then? Just smile and life will be beautiful
My late mum was an exceptional woman. She taught me that in life one doesn’t have don’t take things too seriously. She taught me the importance of living for the moment because tommrow usually takes care of itself.She taught me to always be positive in life no matter what circumstances you are in. In hard times I still smile like I do in good times.
How did you cope after the passing on after your mum?
It was rough. First it was my father who passed on, then after ten years my mum died. Because of her teachings I managed to survive together with my siblings. She made sure that we had food on the table every day. I am trying to live by her standards that no matter what my family should have food.
Are you in a relationship that can lead to marriage?
I am dating as a matter of fact. But that person is not the father of my kids. As a woman it is difficult to date openly in-front of your daughters. Regarding a marriage, all I can say is that God shall decide for me. If it comes I will gladly embrace it. If it doesn’t happen, I won’t be too fussy about it, especially I witnessed what happened to my aunt after her husband died.
Her in laws mistreated her badly. It was like she was never married to that family.It is a sad story for another day.
What do you do for a living?
I am the Principal Public Relations Officer II at the Ministry of Lands and Housing. Before I was transferred to the Ministry I was at Ngwato land Board in Serowe and I was later seconded to LAPCAS Programme in Mogoditshane as the information officer. Before then I was a journalist at Mmegi Group covering education issues.
Why did you leave the group?
I went for greener pastures. Life is all about money.
Are you comfortable where you are at?
It depends on the side you are looking at. I am happy with my current job, I am not complaining because it is certainly better than where I was.
Of late you have been donating shoes to the needy kids across the country. May I know why?
A. My initiative is called ‘Help Change One Life a Million Times.’ What I believe is that kids who go to school without shoes tend to have a low self esteem. Normally they don’t do well in school especially at Primary school. Because they have this low self esteem they tend to be school clowns and walk faster to cover for their lack of shoes. It is painful for a kid to walk to school without shoes as a mother I wouldn’t want my kids to go to school without shoes. During my time as a reporter I was covering an event at Lesirane Primary School in Tsolamosese I was shocked to see kids at that school without shoes.
Is this how you developed an interest in assisting disadvantaged kids?
You can say disadvantaged kids again because I donate to those ones only. Remember we have kids who are on government programme because of their family situations and those who are not simply because of other factors. I asked a few friends to donate a pair or two and since that day I have received numerous requests across the country to help. As they say the rest is history.
How is it turning out though looking at the fact that you are a Government employee?
I am simply using my own little resources to do community service. My employer is aware of my service to the community. Even President Ian Khama encourages us to give back to the community. I help the needy children outside working hours so that it doesn’t interfere with my work schedule. I do it mostly during weekends. I haven’t registered an NGO to pursue my dream of helping all kids in this country, simply because I am giving out of love not for gain. I am not expecting anybody to recognise me or pay me. Blessed is the hand that gives so says the Lord.
There should be some people that were touched by this noble initiative. You can’t tell me all people in this country can’t see your good initiative.
Indeed. I appreciate people who take note of other people’s work. I started this project in 2011 but at some stage I had to suspend it because of work commitments but the edge to do it didn’t go away. I have had people like Ruth Maphorisa and Dr Mampane of Boitekanelo Health School donate 20 pairs each. There is a teacher at Molepolole called Fedelia Lestsebe who also deserves a special mention. They are lots of people some holding high positions who don’t even want publicity that have donated to this course. AVIS, BNYC and Motor Centre in Francistown are always willing to help with transport logistics anytime.
The reaction from the kids must be touching. Or is it?
The look on their face is so touching. For some it would the first time for them to wear brand new shoes. Imagine how excited they get. I always pride myself that I have at least helped somebody. My sister Botho is also involved in helping these kids. You can see that even my family has developed a sense of giving back.
How many shoes have you donated thus far?
We have handed over 555 pairs since January and currently we are collecting about 166 pairs for Changeta and Makaleng primary Schools.
What advise can you give to those who want to follow in your footsteps?
I am passionate about giving. I derive pleasure in doing that. Passionate people stay pushing their passion. If you want to do anything worthwhile in life be passionate about it and do it without expecting anything in return. If you derive pleasure in giving then go for it.
Feel Good its Friday what are you up to?
I am a boring person. I will be home with my daughters just spending time with them checking their home work and doing girl talk. I am not an outdoor person because I don’t even drink!