Kealabale Sathaga has lived in Moshana for 76 years on a plot of land she and her two sisters inherited from their parents. This is the amazing story of resilience of one woman caring for her 24 grandchildren.
Once, the extended family compound included five solid mud huts, providing shelter for Kealabale, her husband and her seven children along with her sisters and their families.
One woman, 24 grandchildren to care for
Over the years, though, wind and rain have reshaped the huts, much as death and hardship have reconfigured the family. Kealabale’s husband died many years ago and also 5 of her 7 children also passed away of age-related illnesses.
Her two remaining children have abandoned the family, leaving the elderly woman to care for 24 grand children and great grandchildren on her own. Watch this extraordinary story (or read the story below) of resilience and strength, no matter what.
Unemployment and rural poverty in Botswana
“My name is Kealabale Sathaga. I was born a long time ago. There is no one else. I am the only one taking care of them. They are my sole responsibility. We are responsible for each other.”
Moshana is one of the poorest villages in Botswana. It’s grinding poverty represents the reality of many rural African villages. The village is located 20 kilometers from bustling Kanye, but employment opportunities are scarce.
Several years ago, adults in the village worked in the pioneer quarries which has since shut down now most people in Moshana depend on temporary seasonal jobs for survival. Some people are subsistence farmers and a few have found work in the diamond mines 2 hours away.Some people of the community live in makeshift tents and struggle to make an existence.
Eradicating child poverty with new homes
Kealabale’s family survives on an old age pension of 220 pula a month (about £25), and whatever piece meal work her grandchildren can find. The family receives a monthly food ration from the government, but for only three eligible children.
Kealabale stretches resources as much as possible. But still, the family usually runs through it’s monthly food allotment in two weeks. Kealabale eats only after all the children have been fed.
Our local team, with a one million pula grant from Barclay’s Bank, will build 32 homes for 30 families in desperate need of safe, decent shelter – thereby helping tackle some of the root causes of poverty in Botswana. 85% of the beneficiaries of this project are orphaned and vulnerable children.
Some of the homeowners are disabled or destitute. Habitat’s work in Moshana is 100% subsidised, since the families served have too little or no income to take part in our usual system of microloans.
“They now have a place to sleep”
“I see that this house is of great importance to me. This is very important for my grandchildren because they now have a place to sleep. I have a place to rest my head. Now, I have place to gather them together. I am like a mother hen protecting my chicks.”
“All of the children that I am taking care of, none of them ever say, ‘I am thinking of my mom’. They all consider me as their mother. I love them so much, I love them more than anything else.”
Because of the size of Kealabale’s family, we are building two houses to accommodate them. Each house is 34 squared meters, with two rooms and a covered area for cooking built of cement blocks and cement floors and iron sheet roofing.
The root cause of child poverty in Botswana
HIV/AIDS affected families
We have witnessed the devastating impact HIV/AIDS is having on the communities and families we aim to work with in Botswana and Africa. Botswana has one of the highest HIV/AIDS infection rates with over 17.6% of the population living with HIV.
Girls are four times as likely to be infected and over 20% of the children have been orphaned – 4 out of 5 due to AIDS.
The impact of HIV/AIDS in Botswana
The consequences are debilitating – 1 in 4 households in Botswana will lose an income earner to AIDS within the next 10 years. The orphaned children, or those living with sick caretakers, are more vulnerable to homelessness, food insecurity, and compromised health and have little access to education and psychological care.
We plan to expand and tailor our traditional home building programme to meet the needs of OVC’s (Orphans & Vulnerable Children) living without basic shelter that could improve their health and well being.
The Moshana project is considered as a pilot project towards a bigger OVC project. With some estimation of orphans being around 120,000 in Botswana, we need greater support from different partners to house all the orphans in the country.