Botswana: Programme Gives Young Mothers Hope

Tonota — About 39 young mothers have undertaken a six months facilitator training that seeks to empower young mothers under Young Mothers Empowerment programme in Tonota.

The programme's facilitator, Ms Theo Khumo told BOPA in an interview that it was established to empower unemployed young mothers aged between 15 and 35 to overcome their challenges as young mothers in the community.

"We recognise the challenges faced by unemployed young mothers and our intention is to train them to be facilitators with an aim to go out there to motivate other young mothers and empowering them," she said.

Ms Khumo explained that the empowerment programme is a product of the Thapelo Olopeng Foundation, with the current 39 facilitators undergoing training as the programme's first crop.

The programme runs for six months after which the trained facilitators will then graduate and then be allocated projects to work on.

The selection of the young mothers is premised on the fact that they have already experienced the challenges and the best way to motivate others will be for them to share stories and testimonies.

The mandate of the programme is to counsel young mothers who have lost hope because of the challenges faced, more especially those who are unemployed or single mothers, said Ms Khumo.

She said most of the young mothers go through break-ups during pregnancy, with fathers not taking responsibility of the pregnancy and this had affected them in so many ways.

Therefore, Young Mothers Programme seeks to show these young mothers that there is still hope despite all the challenges they face, she said.

"As they share their testimonies and stories, the programme provides counselling platform for them to accept their situation. It helps them to forgive the men fathering their children, thereby develop a different perceptive on life," she explained.

The programme has been running for almost three months with one session in a class per week, and the response had been great since the trainees opened up and testified. She said currently some had acknowledged that the programme had helped them open up about their challenges, which had nurtured them to see life in a different manner.

Ms Khumo said some came with no hope but had managed to see the bigger picture and had even suggested projects that could help empower them and fight unemployment.

She said the idea came up while she was going around the country conducting seminars in her capacity as a facilitator for Mma Mosadi Movement, a movement she co-founded.

"It came to my realisation that we have been leaving behind the most people in need. Most of the seminars I conducted were about empowering unemployed women, leaving out the other less privileged sisters who are in need and unemployed. Hence I took up the idea of empowering young unemployed mothers in Tonota," Ms Khumo said.

She said they were looking forward to rolling out the programme to other settlements, which had made requests.

"My vision is to see well-equipped young mothers who are independent, self-esteemed and able to realise their business aspirations. I also want to empower those aspiring to go back to school and make sure their wishes happen," she said.

For her part, 28-year-old Ms Onneile Sekwidi, a facilitator trainee appreciated the efforts made. Ms Sekwidi is also a single mother who had gone through rejection from the baby father when she fell pregnant.

Source : BOPA

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