More often after getting the electorates’ votes and get to hold public office, politicians usually hit a U-turn on promises they made while campaigning and turn a blind eye on their constituents’ problems. Not so with Gantsi North MP, Noah Salakae. The youthful MP together with his constituents, are working together to establish the Gantsi North Community Trust, whose primary aim is to assist the needy children commonly referred to as ‘street kids’ who are now a common sight in the village and whose numbers are growing by the day. If all goes according to plan, Salakae says the trust will be launched over the festive season in a three-day fun filled event. The launch – on December 24 – will have Maun West M, MP Kgosi Tawana Moremi officiating and will be preceded by a beauty pageant fundraising night on December 22. Gantsi North Soccer Tournament takes place on December 23rd. Lobatse-based Extension Gunners is expected to be the crowd puller for this event. Gantsi, unlike other rural townships and villages in Botswana, is experiencing a rising number of street children who – according to MP Salakae – move from nearby farms following their parents who migrate to Gantsi Township in search of greener pastures. According to Salakae, although the Gantsi North Community Trust will have a wide range of objectives its first responsibility will be to ensure that street children in the constituency receive the best remedial assistance ever. This assistance he says will also extend to their parents, who are also living in deplorable conditions in the township. “You will find that more than 20 of this young people usually share a single homestead, and sit idle all day because they cannot find jobs, which often result in them engaging in sexual relationships and bearing many children which they cannot afford,” he said.
Salakae notes that majority if not all of these needy children and young mothers that they are planning to assist are of San/Basarwa descent. He points out that although Basarwa as persons categorised under the Remote Area Dwellers (RADs) initiative are supposed to receive some sort of assistance from government social safety nets; this is obviously not the case as evidenced by the continuous migration from remote areas to Gantsi in search of a better life. “Most of them tell me that the programmes that government claims to be rolling out to them are all talk and no action. The only thing they say is currently in operation in their areas is Ipelegeng; which is actually a temporary form of employment and never really help,” said Salakae. Salakae estimates that there are more 200 street children in Gantsi, who are out of school with some totally never been in school. As one of the measures of redress, Salakae says they will be working with one councilor in the village who has with assistance from donors already secured a land where the children can be convened at; provided with food and ablution services and where a strategy to motivate their parents to take them back to school can be launched.