The last volunteers from Canada will be completing their work in Botswana by April. World University School of Canada (WUSC) celebrated the end of their 11 years UNITERRA program which has for the past years helped Botswana in capacity building through their volunteers.
The country coordinator for WUSC in Botswana Chillie Motshusi appreciated the volunteer cooperation between Botswana and Canada, which dates as far back as 1980.Through the UNITERRA program WUSC had been involved in various sectors in the country like education, parastatal, economic diversification, health and mostly the AIDS sector in which they worked close with both the government and non-governmental organisations. Most non-governmental organisations like Botswana Christian AIDS Intervention Programme(BOCAIP), Botswana Network for People Living with AIDS(BONEPWA) and Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) among others have indeed enjoyed their service which led to the tremendous growth of the organisations in Botswana. According to Motshusi, since 2004 when UNITERRA started sending the first volunteers to Botswana, there were tools developed in order to cater for all non-governmental organisations in the country. He said in 2009 when the second phase for UNITERRA began, it was because of increased need in the AIDS sector in the country. Motshusi said that is when they decided to focus solely on those issues as from 2009 by bringing volunteers in those aspects.
He said though the end of the UNITERRA program does not signal the end of AIDS in Botswana, it rather signals that Botswana is at a state where it can now fight for itself. "This now shows that Botswana has the capacity to drive itself in fighting this endemic, and this of course shows tremendous growth, so that is why the conclusion of the UNITERRA program," he said. The Executive Director for WUSC Chris Eaton appreciated all the 343 volunteers from his country who have been coming to Botswana for the past 11 years. He held that though WUSC operates in 14 other countries around the world like Nepal, Burkina Faso, Bolivia, Mali and Guatemala among others, it is in Botswana that they have collaborated well with the organisations. “Relationship with Botswana is deeper and stronger, and we continue to host Batswana each and every year in our universities in Canada," he said. He added they will continue taking students with disabilities to go and study in Canada, while highlighting that WUSC is the only Canadian NGO that is based in Botswana. He also affirmed that though the UNITERRA program is coming to an end there is nothing to worry about since WUSC will still remain in Botswana.
Coordinator for National AIDS Coordinating agency (NACA) Grace Muzila said that after UNITERRA capacity building there have been tremendous change in Botswana which has led to excellence and capability. She said that now they can proudly approach sponsors and in return they do not hesitate to help them because they are well organised, something that she revealed wasn’t the case before UNITERRA program started operating in Botswana. She said as NACA it is their aim for Botswana to get a certificate this year for having no child born with HIV/AIDS. Gaeimelwe Goitsemang who is the Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said though they were worried about the completion of the UNITERRA program, they are now happy knowing that WUSC is remaining in the country, something which was their major concern. He said with Botswana having five national priorities of employment creation, poverty eradication, HIV/AIDS, corruption and quality education, they hope that WUSC will find a way to continue with other partnerships in those different aspects. "Botswana and Canada come from afar. They started assisting Botswana when it was not like this and they have seen the country grow, and we will continue to appreciate them for what they are doing for this country," he said. The volunteers that came to Botswana through a recorded video clip, not only esteemed Botswana but rather they mostly talked of how they have learnt a lot in this country from very dedicated people from organisations like BOCAIP, who have showed commitment into making sure that they serve their communities. Most of them said they are proud to be in Canada but still refer to themselves as ambassadors for Botswana because of what they have learnt about this country and the words that they put out there about Botswana.