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Sharing From Botswana
The Plight of the Orphans

Lesang Bana Care Center

bullet Progress of Lesang Bana Care Centre
bullet Some Photos
bullet Blessing of the corner stone and site of the proposed centre
bullet Psycho-social support camp
bullet Are the children mostly orfans because of AIDS?
bullet When people say "long illness" we usually understand it as AIDS
bullet Official Opening of Lesang Bana
bullet Other story before official opening of centre

From: Gaby Faimau SVD
To: svd.supgen@verbodivino.it
Sent: Tuesday, July 19, 2005 2:57 PM
Subject: Sharing from Botswana

Fr. Antonio Pernia SVD
SVD Superior General
Via dei Verbiti 1 00154 Roma, ITALIA

Dear Father Tony,

Warmest greetings from Botswana.

In my last email and letter I shared with you about Divine Mercy Catholic Mission in the village of Metsimotlhabe, Botswana. I also mentioned there about Lesang Bana Care Centre, a centre we started to give care for our children, particularly orphans and vulnerable children in Metsimotlhabe. Let me take this time to share again with you the progress of Lesang Bana Care Centre. At the moment, there are 45 children in our day care pre-school programme and another 73 children in our Saturday Kids Club Programme. If everything goes well as planned, we will soon start the building project of this centre. At the moment, our people are contributing building materials. It is a lovely experience seeing people bring building materials such as cement, window frames, door frames. I have also got some funds for this building project from our mission offices in Techny, Netherland and Germany. With these funds, support from the diocese and our people’s contribution hopefully we can start next month. We are now still waiting for the government’s final approval of the building plan.

It has been nearly one year since we started the centre. Personally I have learnt a lot by being with our orphans and vulnerable children. Orphanhood is not just a matter of losing parents. Experience of loss in fact creates so many effects physically, psychologically, emotionally and spiritually. This is what I have learnt by being with our children in Lesang Bana Care Centre. In this centre we are trying to develop psycho-social support programmes for our children, caregivers and members of our community. I happened to visit our children when they had a 3-day psycho-social support camp the first weekend of July. I spent only two ours with them but I was blessed by what I experienced. In one session, the facilitators put in front of the children so many things such as key, ball, mobile pone, shampoo, soap, body lotion, paper, pen, book, medicine, torch, lamp, candle, picture, net, cloth, spoon, fork etc. The children then were asked to pick one of them. Later on, each one of them was asked to share, why did he (she) pick any particular thing? A sharing from a small girl of 11 really touched me. She picked a body lotion. She then said, "This body lotion reminded me on my mother. She used to buy this kind of body lotion. Every time when she went for shopping, this is the kind of body lotion she was usually looking for. She died some years back. I now remember my mum as I have this body lotion in my hands." This small girl then could not continue to talk as tears showered her little face. After some time, one of the facilitators asked her, "Have you ever shared this with your grandmother?" "No," she answered. "Is this the first time you share with others about losing your mother?" She answered, "Yes."

Many times orphans have nobody to share with. Some have the experience of loss and yet they struggle to cope with such experience alone. In many cases, the experience of loss forced them to be quiet and to fight alone with loneliness. Grandmothers or caregivers cannot just simply replace their mothers or parents. The above exercise really helped the children to acknowledge the experience of loss and to cope with it by sharing with others. I was happy that the children could openly share this experience and I could easily see that sharing this experience made them free from the burden they have been carrying. When our children came back from the camp I just mentioned, they first question they asked me was, “When will we be having another camp?”

With the above lines, may I ask your prayers for me and our missionary work here in Metsimotlhabe. So far I am happy with the progress of this new mission and I am happy as well of being with the children in the centre. More than something I give, in fact I have received a lot from our children of Lesang Bana Care Centre. I also promise my prayers for you and our councilors.

Yours in Christ the King of Mercy,

Gaby Faimau SVD

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From: Gaby Faimau SVD
To: Niels Johansen SVD
Sent: Thursday, July 21, 2005 11:10 PM
Subject: Greetings from Botswana

Dear Niels,

armest greetings from Botswana. We once met in Surabaya (1999). Actually Aurel Pati introduced me to you. I was by that time on my way for my ordination.

I thank you for your nice email. I will be very happy if you could put my letter on the internet or publish it somewhere. Please find 3 photos I attached here. First photo: Frt. Tony Nguyen who is now doing his OTP programme in Botswana read a story and the children listened to him attentively. Reading stories for children is one of our Saturday Kids Club Programmes. Second photo: our children had a weekend camp. Third photo: some of our children joined a psycho-social support camp recently.

Recently Bro. Dennis Newton SVD of Techny Mission Office informed me that an article on Lesang Bana Care Centre will appear soon in their magazine. In case you need more information, please let me know.

Fraternally yours,

gaby

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From: Gaby Faimau SVD
To: Niels Johansen SVD
Sent: Tuesday, August 16, 2005 7:55 AM
Subject: Blessings

Dear Niels,

Greetings from Botswana.

As planned, we had a beautiful blessing of the corner stone and site of the proposed centre. Our children already gathered at the Church from 3 pm. Later on people then joined. At 5pm all of us moved to the site. There we sang Veni Creator. The community leader then said something on the programme. The builder has prepared a stone bricks at one of the corners for blessing. After the blessing we had a wonderful African procession to the church. During a short sermon I reminded our people with these words, "Today we start building a centre for our children, indeed a centre for our parish. More than just a building, today we are building THE FUTURE of our children. By doing so, we have given hopes to so many of our children." Coming to prayers of the faithful, 5 youth had procession with five plates of sand, cement, concrete, bricks and pitsand. Before the altar, each one of them said a prayer. Many were so touched by these prayers. Thank God that He made it possible where our people experienced this as a spiritual experience. We have started. Mary our Lady was staying 3 months with Elisabeth. I believe she is also going to stay with us during the construction of this children's centre.

Many thanks for your prayers and support.

gaby

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From: Gaby Faimau SVD
To: Niels Johansen SVD
Sent: Sunday, August 28, 2005 3:56 PM
Subject: Another Camp

Dear Niels,

Greetings from Botswana.

Last week our children had another 3 day psycho-social support camp. This time I managed to be with them 2 days. It was really an inspiring and wonderful experience. Our volunteers develop some programmes during the camp such as spider web, art and craft, singing and dancing, adventure unlimited. Every time when the finish one activity, the leaders asked them the same question, "What have you learnt?" It was really nice to hear their sharing. On the second day, our bishop came to visit them at the camp site. I was so touched by the way bishop talked to the children. He then bought nice ice cream for them. On the third day, field officer of UNICEF Botswana also came to the site. She could not believe experiencing the joy of our children that day. I have asked most of the children and the volunteers to write what they have experienced at the camp. I will send you a copy once I compile their stories.

Best wishes

gaby


From: Niels Johansen
To: Gaby Faimau SVD
Sent: Friday, September 02, 2005 9:40 AM
Subject: Re: Another Camp

Dear Gaby:

Greetings from Rome and thank you for your mail.

The stories you are promissing me will be very welcome! Just one question, which was not crystal clear in your first mail: Are the children mostly orfans because of AIDS? I wish you all the best.

Fraternally yours,

Niels

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From: Gaby Faimau SVD
To: Niels Johansen
Sent: Friday, September 02, 2005 10:15 AM
Subject: Re: Another Camp

Dear Niels,

Greetings and thank you for your email.

It is really difficult for families in Botswana when dealing with AIDS. One cannot just simply say that my mother or whoever died because of AIDS. However the term which is commonly used is "long illness." When people say "long illness" we usually understand it as AIDS. For your question, my answer will be, most of our children are orphans because their parents (father or mother) died after "long illness." Patricio, my provincial, just came back from holiday. I will soon share with him what I experienced last July. Thank God that our bishop and a brother priest helped me to get the money back.

Best wishes,

gaby

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From: Gaby Faimau SVD
To: Niels Johansen
Sent: Tuesday, February 07, 2006 10:10 PM
Subject: Official Opening of Lesang Bana

Dear Niels,

Greetings from Botswana. Hoping that you are keeping well.

As I write this email, I am just so happy to see our little children of 3-6 years now using the newly built Lesang Bana Care Centre. The official opening of this centre last Saturday went so well. More than 1000 people came to this beautiful programme including the Assistant Minister of Education, our bishop and vicar general, member of parliament and councilors, district council chairman and local chiefs, field officers of UNICEF and Siyabhabha Trust. Our Metsimotlhabe people and Lesang Bana children proudly put on colorful T-shirts written, “With Lesang Bana, let the children change the world.”

The programme was long - started shortly after 0930 hrs and continued until nearly 13.00 hrs. There was lots of entertainment & information-sharing that was well worth viewing & hearing.

"Class Activities" was a highlight - tiny folks attired in graduation gowns & mortar board ats confidently, e.g. loudly & with spirit, who pronounced "days of the week", "numbers 1 to 10", "seasons of the year", "Smell with my nose & Taste with my tongue" amongst other things, and stated "What I want to be when I grow up." One little lady truly caught the audience's fancy when she pronounced that "I want to be a . . . PILOT". This “Class Activities” programme was performed by our Lesang Bana preschool children.

Other highlights included the song “Any Dream Will Do” from “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Coat” that featured members of our Kids Club Programme. I was privileged to be the leading vocal of this melodious lovely song. During the interlude, some children presented beautiful flowers to invited guests including the minister and our bishop. They then stood up and joined the children in singing.

Bishop Setlalekgosi spoke and blessed the Centre. The Assistant Minister of Education, the Hon. Mrs. Moggie Mbaakanyi, gave the address for the Official Opening, and praised the voluntary contributions from the Metsimotlhabe community and the Care Centre being a facility for youth open to persons from any religious background.

Many appreciated items performed by our children. One member of Lions Club International said, “The programme was well-organized.” The project officer of Caritas Botswana said, “We have just seen a very high quality items performed by children.” Philda Kereng, field officer of UNICEF expressed the same. “This is a very good start and seeing items performed by children I believe children can do great things if we give them chance. Lesang Bana has given good opportunities to children to develop themselves”, Philda said.

On behalf of our Lesang Bana children, I wish to thank you all for your support. We now have a building. For the rest, let us continue to support these children.

God bless you all.

Gaby

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From: Gaby Faimau SVD
To: Niels Johansen
Sent: Tuesday, February 07, 2006 10:13 PM
Subject: Other story before official opening of centre

Dear Niels

n the other email, I shared about the beautiful celebration of the official opening of our centre. Behind this beautiful celebration, I have a traumatic experience again. We had this wonderful event right after I was attacked again by thieves on last Thursday. On Thursday evening we celebrated together the presentation of our Lord at the Cathedral. After having supper together with bishop and fellow priests, I went back straight home and arrived around 9pm. As I arrived, I locked the two gates straight away. Slowly I opened the door to the caravan where I stay. I then wanted to close the door. To my surprise, somebody pulled the door from outside. When I tried to see, 5 young men stood before me. The first wanted to hit me with the hammer on his hand. I blocked and suddenly two of them pushed me until I felt down. These two then pressed my throat and I could not shout and breathe while others searched for money. They demanded money. They took all money I had in my wallet, an amount of P 1,200 (Euro 200). One of them asked, "Where do you put other money?" I answered, "That is the only money I have. You may take whatever you like from this caravan." They were searching everywhere but they did not find any money. After sometime, neighbours were calling me as they saw something unusual in the caravan. At this point, thieves opened the door and ran away. Thank God, they got the money but they did not take my life.

I was robbed twice during the construction of this centre. I have asked permission from the bishop to take a two week holiday this month. With this short break, hopefully I will regain my strength. I thank you very much for your great support to our Lesang Bana children. Please keep me in your prayers.

Yours,

Gaby

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