In this article Angela Kebakile tell her story of how a donation of bicycles helped carers of AIDS families in Botswana to reach their clients.
In May this year, I attended a meeting in the AIDS office of SACBC (Southern African Bishops’ Conference). In my report I mentioned the great challenge that our care -givers face in the long distances that they have to walk in order to reach their patients. Our caregivers walk for about 20 km in the heat, tired and hungry. This concerned the director of the above mentioned organization who then came to me after the meeting and asked me if bicycles would lessen the burden a little. She told me of a donor from the United States who had promised some bicycles for South Africa. She asked me would I make use of them if they were able to donate some to me. I was very happy to hear this and I told her that I felt that this co-incidence was all part of God’s plan for us in our need.
I waited in vain for three months to get feedback. Eventually at the end of July I received an email from the director reminding me of our conversation and informing me that I would be getting 18 bicycles for my caregivers. I was absolutely thrilled about this. This was the beginning of our business and she emailed me several times updating me until mid August when she sent final details of when I should come to South Africa, what was going to happen there and what I should bring along.
I was so excited and arranged everything accordingly.
On the 20th September I left with two youths to help me with driving in South Africa. We arrived in Johannesburg around 6 pm at a centre run by the Anglican diocese of Johannesburg. We had supper and rested. The following morning at 7.30 am we left for another place called Orange Farm, which is about 20 km south of Johannesburg. There we were introduced to a team from the USA plus those from South Africa who were going to demonstrate to us how to assemble the bicycles. I realized then that I would have to put the bicycle parts together! We were divided into groups of about seven and given the tools necessary (spanners). And so we started our work. For two and half days we were sweating, assembling the 750 bicycles. On the third day we were allocated bicycles in a ceremonial way. Since we had a long distance to travel ahead of us, we asked if we could be the first to be allocated so that we could start our journey by daylight. We left at 11.30 am and arrived at the Botswana border at 7.30 pm, reaching our destination at 9 pm so exhausted that we just left the bicycles in the vehicle in the middle of the mission campus and went to our homes.
The following morning I went to the office and called the bishop to see the bicycles. He was as delighted as I was and decided that we should have a short ceremony to give them out. So, on 14th of October the bicycles were distributed to our home-based caregivers in a beautiful ceremony, in the presence of the Chiefs from the three villages that we serve. Representatives from Social welfare, local clinics, villagers and church leaders were there. There was singing and jubilations indeed. After several speeches the bishop blessed the 18 bicycles and gave them to the caregivers. You should have seen the joy in their eyes!! These bicycles were going to help them to visit more patients and cut out the long distances that they used to walk in the heat.
We are very grateful to Bristol Meyers Squibb for donating these bicycles to CATHCA and grateful also to CATHCA for remembering Botswana. May God bless them and reward their generosity. May we have many like them who share what they have with the less fortunate.
– Angela Kebakile, C.P.
- Merck Foundation Adds to Botswana Partnership (abcnews.go.com)