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Wanderer with a purpose

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Y Care founding coordinator passes baton to protege

Thirteen years ago, a free spirited, blue eyed,broad shouldered and flat bottomed blond from Sweden called Stellan Bengtsson set foot in Botswana for the first time.

If you are wondering what his flat behind has to do with anything, stick with us for a moment.

Meanwhile, a bit of an instinctive nomad judging by how he has lived and worked all over the world, Bengtsson came to Botswana to do voluntary HIV/AIDS work with a non governmental organisation called TCM.

But by the time the donor funding on the HIV project had dried up Bengtsson had already moved on to more interesting and fun things and fallen deeply in love with his new gig.

Through a gym mate, Boitumelo Sekwababe, then Country Manager for Shell Oil Botswana, which was one of the main Sponsors of Y Care, a Charitable Trust that raises money through sponsored walks, Bengtsson decided to volunteer his skills to help the founder, Dr Nomsa Mbere.

Two weeks ago when it was time to return home to Sweden, the man who had become synonymous with Y Care exclaimed; “ I have had the most fantastic 13 years of my entire life in Botswana.”

And who wouldn’t be thrilled after finding not only a beautiful foreign wife but fulfilling work too that touched many people’s lives and shall continue to do so long after he has handed over the Y, Care coordinator baton to his youthful protege, Sarona Moabi.

Explaining why the new coordinator was the best candidate to succeed him, Bengtsson said, “ You have to have a heart for the people to do the job effectively and Sarano’s heart definitely beats for the community.

I have known him for a long time and he has worked tirelessly alongside me after he went through the Y Care leadership programme and excelled,” He explained

The outgoing coordinator takes pride in knowing that since his first meeting with Dr Mbere in 2006, Y Care has managed to donate to various charities over 75% of the funds raised every single year.

Many communities from different parts of the country have benefitted annually from the at least P300, 000. 00 that is raised by this unique and fun concept of exploring your own country by foot while raising funds at the same time.

Any memorable moments from some of the walks he’s been on?

“ We plan the best we can and expect the unexpected but hey, what happens on the walks stays on the walks” he says with a chuckle before going on to explain that apart from its fundraising purposes Y Care has provided the best platform for networking, team building and personal growth for walkers and volunteers alike.

“ Everybody is equal out in the pans where there’s no hot showers and no toilets,” He say with a little laugh.

The interaction is also amazing because walkers get to change walking partners through the walk which gives them a chance to chat to different people from different backgrounds and get to know them better, he further explains.

And now back to the mention of the man’s flat behind. On his first walk Bengtsson unashamedly confessed to his appreciation of The Voice page 3 models but wondered if he too would qualify to feature on the prestigious page.

The question was put out to the tired walkers on the gruelling Shakawe-Tsodilo trail and in no time the verdict was out.

“You might be blond, you might have blue eyes but the flat behind immediately disqualifies not only you but men in general ,” he was told.

It is memories of banters and anecdotes like these to relief pain on the walks that Bengtsson takes back with him to Sweden where luckily he shall not be lost to Y Care but shall continue to put his organisational skills to good use by setting up a Y Care Charitable Trust Sister organisation.

“ Soon walkers from Sweden will hopefully come to join local walkers for a fun and fulfilling event. In the meantime I trust Sarona to take the organisation to great heights,” he quipped as he ended the interview.