Paying it forward

Boitumelo Maswabi

American civil rights activist and poet, Maya Angelou, wrote: “If you get, give. If you learn, teach.”

Since the advent of Covid, which seemingly is not letting up, we are constantly anguished, to a greater degree because from food to fuel and everything in between, commodity prices continue to skyrocket.

So, often, in these challenging and uncertain times, we tend to keep a tight grip on our money, talents or possessions due to heightened anxiety caused by the uncertainty.

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Voice Woman speaks to ordinary Batswana women to find out what they are doing to help others.

But first, meet Chipo Baboloki Mazhani and Atang Same Philemon, 24-year-old University of Botswana students who I met at the SOS Village a few weeks back.

Despite their busy schedules and paltry allowances, the scholars meaningfully and positively impact the lives of the less fortunate.

Chipo is pursuing a Master’s Degree of Physics while Atang is studying for a Bachelor’s Degree of Education (Science).

They tutor seven of the Village’s kids each.

“We volunteered to teach Science, Maths, and English to Form 1 and Form 2 students. This is because we want to provide the children with extra resources and learning tools outside of school so that they can reach their full potential and achieve their dream careers,” they explained.

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Inspired by her grandmother, Mokgadi Kgathi, who she describes as her “wonder woman” – courageous, full of patience and love – Atang says she hopes to make a difference in Botswana’s education sector.

“I aspire to leave a footprint of change and be remembered for going above and beyond to improve the quality of education for children.”

Away from her studies, the adventurous Bobonong lass, whose motto is “Always remember to fall asleep with a dream and wake up with a purpose”, enjoys farming, yoga, dancing and hiking.

“I would tell other young people that giving back to the community gives one a sense of purpose and it also improves a person’s quality of life as well as the lives of those around us.”

Chipo, a bookworm who’s also a keen cyclist, believes hard work is the most important key to success.

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And it is easy to see why as she says South African inventor and investor, Elon Musk, is her inspiration: “He is an innovative entrepreneur determined to achieve his goals despite the obstacles in his way.”

Looking to the future, the Mulambakwena native hopes to be an influential scientist who will work all over the world helping others to have better and easier lives.

She encourages the youth to give back because, “It helps improve mental and physical health while also boosting the wellness of society.”

Candy Mokwaleng, 36, Hukuntsi

The spirit of giving has waned, although some people are still compassionate.

Things are expensive, and this has caused Batswana to be wary of sharing what little they have. For example,

if I went next door to my neighbours to ask for cooking oil, they’re likely to turn me down considering the cost of cooking oil.

It’s been a while since anyone shown me generosity.

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I work here at the Main Mall and on several occasions I’ve helped total strangers; that’s my nature.

I can part with my last Thebes just to help someone who is short on bus fare, for instance.

Nowadays, though, people are only focused on what they can gain from assisting you. Things have changed, but it’d be wise for all of us to turn to God, who is the supplier of our every need.

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Let’s have faith in the Lord that He rewards, “Whoever sows generously”.

My other prayer is for Batswana to know to speak positive words that encourage and build others up; it’s what we all need to do currently.

Kgakgamatso Steven, 29, Nkange

The last time I received a gift from anyone was just before the pandemic started in 2020.

Times have changed, because life has gotten so expensive.

I am a giver.

Take for example at my church – St John, Ledumang – a lot of needy people come to church and I help them with any and everything that I can; money for transport, especially, or accommodation whenever we have all-night prayers.

I wonder why I rarely receive help, or maybe I should be patient; good things are on the horizon.

Goitsemodimo Nkgotla, 25, Molepolole

I have not experienced any generosity in a while; since Covid hit actually.

There are so many people struggling to make ends meet right now.

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Because I’m selfless, I care about the welfare of others. Let’s reignite that spirit of giving as many have fallen on hard times.

Kgetsi ya tsie e kgonwa ke go tshwaragannwa.

Lillian Makgorotlha, 54, Digawana

In 2016, Jewellery Box owner at Rail Park came to my rescue after I lost my stock to thieves.

She literally offered me materials from her shop so I can restart my business.

That was the last time a stranger was charitable to me.

As you can see, I am still doing well in this business.

I, on the other hand, am also generous to a fault.

I help people all the time, with money or clothes.

One doesn’t even need to ask; if I see that someone is need, I will just give to him or her.

People need to understand that for one to be blessed, one needs to plant that seed.

When you do good for others, it will return to you manifold.

10 simple acts of kindness to do today:

1. Say hello (and smile) to every person you come in contact with.

2. Let someone else have that parking space.

3. Slow down so someone can merge in front of you in traffic.

4. Pay for the person’s meal or coffee in line behind you at a drive-through

5. Compliment someone, be specific!

6. Let the other person go first.

7. Take 5 minutes to gather items you no longer use and drop them off at a local charity bin.

8. Plant a tree!

9. When someone is talking, show them you are really listening by only looking at them.

10. Hold the Door for Someone

Volunteer Opportunities in Botswana

Featured Non-Profits Causes

• Teaching

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