Spotlight: Mma Nthume
It’s long past the time that I introduce you to some of the fabulous people I work with on a daily basis. So today I bring you the first in what I hope will be a series of ‘Spotlight’ features, interviewing some of the people working in and around the Diocese of Botswana. Enjoy!
Who are you and what do you do?
I’m Gosego Nthume, I work as the Diocesan HIV/AIDS Projects Coordinator.
How did you get into this and why?
It’s a programme I am very invested in. Previously I worked with UNICEF for around 14 years as a programme officer. That time I was assisting different programme officers on special projects within the country. I developed an interest in HIV and working with orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs) during this time. We were also working with government departments (then the Ministry of Local Government and Lands, which was also working with schools and day care centres). We were also involved in prevention of HIV within the nation. From there I joined a PEPFAR-funded programme under BOTUSA, I was working there as an admin programme officer.
During all this time I was an Anglican Church member and we learned through the Diocesan Secretary that there was a vacant post for an HIV/AIDS Coordinator for the Diocese. I was then invited by the Bishop to help with the programme since the post had been vacant for some time.
What special projects are on your desk right now?
The prevention of HIV/AIDS. We’re trying to disseminate information to the congregations and to empower the congregations and the youth regarding trends for HIV information. I’m also working on existing Diocesan HIV/AIDS programmes; the three day care centres and the Holy Cross Hospice. The HIV/AIDS Programme takes care of all the programmes and coordinates and empowers the coordinators of those projects. I also try to help the projects belong to their local congregations.
The HIV Coordinator role was funded by ERD for the year 2009 and during that year we held workshops to sensitise representatives from the different parishes on HIV, the HIV programmes and what I intend to do as the HIV Programme Officer. In 2010 we haven’t received any funding but we are concentrating on trying to help build a Day Care Centre for OVCs in Palpaye, under the Mary Magdalene parish. Those OVCs are homeless and presently stay under tents. They don’t have basic human needs, water, electricity, shelter and even clothes.
The HIV desk is currently working on trying to build a Day Care Centre together with Recreation Halls and other activities for the OVCs and the community as a whole around the Palapye area. The aim of this project is to alleviate poverty, try to take care of the children’s health and educate and assist their parents to be able to sustain their living.
What are the biggest challenges in your role?
The Diocesan HIV/AIDS Programme is unfunded for 2010. Our plans for the Day Care Centre and Recreation Hall is going to be partly funded by Masiela Trust Fund and we’re hoping our Link Companions will assist in running the Day Care Centre. We still have challenges and we need to work out other projects to assist the existing programmes in their continuous running. We are still looking into finding donors or anyone who can assist.
A lack of transport is also a big issue. It prevents us visiting donors and projects. It’s hard to do things over the phone and at the moment we can’t go anywhere to do the following up work.
What’s been your biggest triumph so far?
The role has only been funded for nine months. In those nine months being able to arrange and hold the workshops, informing congregations about the issues around HIV was a big achievement. We also completed a Needs Assessment for the existing projects within the Diocese and managed to identify their problems.
What are the biggest challenges facing Botswana in the area of HIV/AIDS prevention in the next 10 years?
The challenge is to eradicate the HIV virus from Botswana. The aim is for the nation to be HIV free – free of new infections – in the next 10 years.
How should we meet these challenges?
Through education and through empowerment.
Education of the nation, training people how to take care of themselves and to adhere to the information given by the government. And empowering the nation, letting people understand the negative impact of HIV+ status.
What’s on your ‘to do’ list for tomorrow?
- Prepare the agenda for the next HIV/AIDS Committee meeting, on the 1st July.
- Follow up with the Palapye Land Board as to the status of our application for land for the Day Care Centre.
- Try to find how to fit the Malaria programme into my work, work out who to meet in the Ministry of Health, and how to orientate myself in that programme.
- Call our Malaria partner officers to set up a meeting with them.
Who are your heroes?
Nelson Mandela – he’s someone who has a passion of forgiveness.
Mma Mogwera (our Diocesan Executive Administrator) – for believing and understanding – how to have good faith and be strong in difficult circumstances.
Who do you want to win the World Cup?
What’s the best bit of advice you ever had?
When I joined UNICEF, Scholastica Kirmaryo, currently Head of the Africa Section at the UN, told me, “When you do your work you should understand what you are doing and learn to follow instructions” and,
“Note down every official communication, so that if you’re not here tomorrow someone else can carry on your work.”
I’m here because of her. I’m going to keep doing my work following her advice.