The presence of the sisters in Botswana is little older than the Diocese of Gaborone, which just celebrated its golden jubilee on 8th October 2016, but even after 64 years the Spirit of compassion, the message of Hope in the cross and passion of our Lord, continues to call and invite willing hearts, hands and feet to hear and feel, to touch, to walk humbly with and accompany those who carry heavy crosses in our lives today.
We are currently three sisters in Botswana living in Metsimotlhabe village in the Kweneng district and in the northern part of Gaborone, the capital city, in Block 8. We live out our charism in our daily lives giving the gift of who we are to all who we meet, endeavouring to share our Passion for Life with all. Years ago the sisters were involved in many different and important ministries of the diocese from pastoral ministry, education and health, religious formation, home based care for HIV/AIDS patients and they are still active in the Diocese today.
Sister Angela Kebakile CP is the current manager of the Kamogelo Orphaned and Vulnerable Children Project in Tsolamosese, an early childhood day care and pre-school initiative of Tirisanyo Catholic Commission born out of the Diocese’s Homebased Care Program in 2005. Whilst, thankfully, the number of children orphaned due to HIV/AIDS in the 90s has reduced, there are still many today born into vulnerable, poor, and unfortunate circumstances without access to early childhood education, a safe and clean learning environment or adequate healthy nutrition. Sister Angela and her trusty team at Kamogelo along with Sister Pulane Makepe CP and other volunteers, do their best to make everyday a special “school day” for each and every child who passes through the gates of Kamogelo, imparting the Love of Christ to children and their families. She has worked many years pastorally as a catechist, Eucharistic minister and supporting youth through the Youth Alive Movement, active in the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference.
Sister Botshelo Ntsuwe CP is also active in the diocese serving in a counseling capacity as part of the Engaged Encounter diocesan marriage formation workshop team assisting many couples preparing for this most important time in their lives. Journeying with the men and women seeking God’s plan and helping to share Love’s presence in their lives is a valuable experience. She has worked pastorally for some years and has teaching experience teaching in public junior secondary school and does a lot of work with children and youth as well.
Sister Pulane Makepe CP is newly professed but supports the community in internal affairs as well as assisting Sister Angela at Kamogelo twice a week. Currently Sister Pulane is actively embarking on promoting vocations and sharing about the charism of the Cross and Passion with young women and men as well as interested associates and friends in the diocese and beyond. She also works in music ministry in the parish of the Good Shepherd and hopes to grow this ministry to use in mission projects and other projects in the future.
The sisters are particularly dedicated to a community project which is also the Mission project of the congregation in Botswana. It is an important start up project amongst the poor and vulnerable in the rural settlement in Mam’hiko, just outside Metsimotlhabe. Nicknamed Grain of Hope, the sisters have been coming out to the people of Mam’hiko since 2012 when Sister Angela was informed about the settlement by one of the home based care clients. The people of Mam’hiko live without basic infrastructure like electricity, clean water, access to reliable transport and in some cases adequate shelter and food. Mam’hiko had traditionally been an area of subsistence farming but with time, and partially due to drought, many people struggled. Today most of the people are undereducated parents and grandparents with many young children. Oftentimes because of unemployment and poverty, young children in the area do not start school until they’re old enough to walk the long distances to nearby villages and primary schools. Common social ills associated with poverty and lack of adequate education is rife and many people do not have enough to eat.
The sisters began with a Saturday feeding program of which the food was supplied through funding from Passionist sisters friends overseas and then locally by some local charities. As some donors started to commit to the feeding program, the sisters have been able to feed the children every Saturday. Soon sister Angela would coordinate the feeding for Saturday and sisters Botshelo and Pulane would visit during the week on Wednesday then Friday to be with the most vulnerable population which is the children under 6 years of age.
The sisters, when resources are available, organize some stationery and try to hold informal classes and other play recreation for the children and youth. When families who wish to support Grain of Hope come out, they too bring toys and fun and games are shared by all. The parents of the children also contribute their time by cooperating with the sisters in the cooking and clean up afterwards. Various volunteers who have a Saturday morning to spare have also come with ideas to speak with the youth, to pray with the children and their parents, to spend time with them and encourage the community at large. This gave the sisters hope and the dream of Mam’hiko Grain of Hope Project was born.
With the help of the congregation, family, friends and other important stakeholders, the sisters have been able to make significant strides in getting Grain of Hope recognition for the important work being done. Please pray for the community of Mam’hiko and the sisters and their benefactors that this little mustard seed will grow into a very large tree.
Pulane Makepe CP