LIVING IN POVERTY
Waitse Makgolo’s story is sad and unfortunate, but among many young people living in Sese, her story is not unique. Sese is a small settlement in the South Central region, 15 km from Jwaneng, with a population of just over 2000 people.
The village has only one primary school and despite its proximity to the biggest diamond-producing town by value, it remains extremely underdeveloped.
Makgolo is a 20-years-old uneducated single mother of two little boys aged six and three. She emerges as someone who is frank, angry and not slightly bemused as she describes the sheer hopelessness that comes from living in poverty.
“My parents brought me into this life, it is the only one I have known and most likely so will my children,” she says. She doesn’t have just one or two problems, but a whole pile of them. Both her parents have died, they were nomadic and never settled in one place for a long time which made going to school next to impossible. Now, with nowhere to even call home, Makgolo says she relies on friends for accommodation and just trying to get the bare basics is a struggle, as sometimes the children have nothing to eat but sugar water.
“We are only ever able to eat when we have visited people, that in a way is my job. I used to work in Ipelegeng but had to quit because there was no one to stay with my children while I was away,” she shares.
Like every good mother, Makgolo says she wants the best for her children and that includes education, which she acknowledged was essential to take them out of poverty, which they were now forced to grow up in. But in her current state, she doesn’t see how it will be possible. “It is all hopeless,” she laments
As Botswana joins the rest of the continent on Thursday in commemorating the Day of the African Child, Aya Abe, a professor at UB who researches poverty and social exclusion says young people like Makgolo are testimony that the struggle is far from over.
“If children are unable to exercise their full potential, it’s undoubtedly bad for the quality of the labor force and its dynamism,”he said in an interview. Adding that, “Failure to invest in overcoming poverty will most definitely dampen economic growth.” The Botswana Poverty Assessment found that poverty declined from 30.6 percent to 19.4 percent between 2002-2010, particularly in the rural areas. However, despite significant improvements, the report also notes that half of Botswana’s population remains either poor or vulnerable, with 46.2 percent of them children under 15.