The founder of Bona Naledi Society is committed to ensuring that behaviours and lifestyles of Old Naledi youths are healthy, productive to enable them to contribute to the community in which they live.
Mr Salim Kegodile said in setting up the society, he was motivated by the fact that as a youth of Old Naledi, they live in an area hard to access with limited social services.
Speaking at the official launch of Bona Naledi recently conducted by the US Embassy at Gaborone’s Old Naledi Community Hall, Mr Kegodile said as Old Naledi youths, they are to some extent marginalised and faced serious challenges in their lives.
He said they also faced challenges such as an increased number of primary school dropouts, early sex debut, pre-marital and early pregnancies, domestic violence and increased crime rates by youths.
“These phenomena are explicit in Old Naledi and the challenges had been documented and expressed by the administrative and political leadership, a number of initiatives had been introduced, but almost always dismally fail because they target the outward expression of the challenges and not the root causes,” decried Mr Kegodile.
Mr Kegodile said their project activities include working on five areas namely education, ICT, sports, arts and entrepreneurship.
“We are popular and known as a community of soccer, not only that, but also exporting a number of players, hence the need to add other sporting codes.
Bona Naledi will reintroduce field and track events such as high and long jump and many others to benefit our youth,” said Mr Kegodile.
He said business flourishes everywhere in Old Naledi, both legal and illegal, hence they have to tap into this potential and turn this entrepreneurs to establish themselves and they will create linkages with existing government programmes such as Youth Development Fund.
For his part, the US Embassy representative, Ms Sophia O’Donnell said, “We have worked with Kegodile on several projects targeting youth through organisations such as the Youth Health Organisation, Kast Foundation and the I Am project,” said Ms O’Donnell.
She said along with other hardworking individuals, Kegodile’s work has offered life skills through theatre at 62 schools throughout the country.
“We have trained over 1 400 youths at the Youth Empowerment Scheme boot camps coordinated by the embassy’s art envoy programmes to bring American play writers, actors and choreographers to work with youth, and help produce the hip-hop CD, Get Up & Go, which reached thousands of children with lifesaving health messages,” said Ms O’Donnell.
She highlighted that the embassy spearheads youth focused programmes such as Youth Employment Programme, which is part of a US$16 million project intended to help improve the quality of life of vulnerable children, women and families.
“Through our Education USA advising centre, we reached over 9 000 Batswana youth last year and increased the number of Batswana studying in the US by 5.6 per cent,” said Ms O’Donnell.
In addition, she said they recently launched the English Access Micro scholarship Programme in Mochudi with Stepping Stones International to provide leadership and English language skills to disadvantaged 13 to 15-year-olds through participation in an intensive two-year after school programme which focused on English language skills, vocational training, and community service activities.