The last time I saw Flying Mission’s Mercy Leshomo in action, she was teaching basic financial skills to a group of home-based care volunteers. Today she was at it again, only this time she was teaching these skills to a group of dynamic young adults. Each of these youth has received Lifeskills training from Flying Mission and is in turn now teaching his or her peers. Most of them have founded or are leading youth clubs, with the purpose of teaching and encouraging the youth in their communities to make good life choices. One participant mentioned why they are so passionate about learning everything they can to help their clubs grow and develop. “It’s reported that 25% of those in our country who are HIV+ don’t even know it. We are still in denial. We are telling ourselves that this is a problem only in the city, but it is a problem in our villages, too. It is important to be informed.”
Helping their clubs grow and develop means getting registered with the government so that they can seek sponsorship. It means keeping financial records. It means having written goals and objectives. Flying Mission’s Lifeskills Coordinator, Emanuel Nwako, was also at the workshop today. “Club work is not just dancing, drama, and choirs,” said Emanuel. “All of that goes side by side with this [financial management, record-keeping, etc.].”
I asked some of the youth club leaders about Emanual’s statement. “Before you came today,” I said, “did you realize that club work involves a lot more than dancing and drama?” Katli, who is the founder and leader of the Butterfly Abstinence Club in Molepolole, said no. “I didn’t know that all of this work is involved in running a youth club,” she said. “But it doesn’t frighten me. I feel empowered now to not only help my club succeed, but to help myself personally.” After today’s instruction, she feels motivated to get the 25-member Butterfly Abstinence Club registered with the Botswana government.
Winnie, who leads the Itsoseng Character Development Youth Club in the village of Kopong, also said that she did not know about this side of club work. “Today’s workshop was eye-opening,” she said. “We’ve done fund raising before, but we don’t have any records to show it.” Winnie also intends to get her club registered so that they can begin seeking sponsorship.
Cassius, who leads the 18-member Visionbearers Club in Gabane, said that he did realize the administrative work involved, but that he didn’t know how to do it. “I’ve long been waiting for this kind of information,” he said.
Why does Flying Mission invest so much in training young people to educate their peers? “Youth can reach other youth better,” said Mercy Leshomo. And now, after today’s workshop, fifteen young people know better how to do it.