Traditional culture and modern life exist side by side in Botswana’s largest village, Serowe.
Since 2008, SOS Children has been working to support local families, and vulnerable and orphaned children, as they battle the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
Serowe has a population of approximately 60,000 and is located in central Botswana. It is known for its traditional buildings and natural attractions and is the country’s largest village. In the early 1900s, Serowe was the capital of the Bamangwato people and was also the birthplace of the country’s first President.
The village is located in a fertile area near the Lotsane River, ideal for farming and livestock rearing, which makes up the primary source of income for the majority of people living in the area. Serowe is also a trade and commerce centre. The Khama Rhino Sanctuary, a community-based project, is located 25 kilometres north of Serowe and the village has a small hospitality industry catering to tourists visiting the sanctuary.
Extended families are feeling the strain of HIV/AIDS
Serowe’s families have a traditional structure and the extended family will usually take on the care of an ill or orphaned relative. This arrangement has been put under pressure as people move away from the village in search of employment and as HIV/AIDS continues to spread in the region.
With parents losing the ability to work to support their families and children losing parents and carers to the disease, HIV/AIDS is placing considerable strain on the families of Serowe and the village’s resources, economy and infrastructure.
Serowe is working hard to combat social challenges
Serowe is a place where traditional culture and modern life co-exist. The village has retained some of the best aspects of its heritage – such as relatives caring for extended family members – but in today’s world, Serowe faces some important social challenges.
The HIV/AIDS pandemic is a serious health and economic problem in the village and surrounding areas. Education is needed to remove the stigma that is still associated with the disease and to combat its spread, enabling affected families to seek the support they need without fear of condemnation.
The Botswana government and local authorities in Serowe have worked hard to put initiatives in place to assist families affected by HIV/AIDS. Despite the success of support systems, serious strain has been placed on the village’s resources by the rapidly increasing number of individuals and families affected. Many children are in a vulnerable position, having lost both parents to the disease, and many families are living in hardship.
Our work in Serowe
We currently have 12 SOS families in Serowe that have been providing loving homes for up to 120 children since 2008. Our SOS families give children the opportunity to grow up in a stable and affectionate family setting, with siblings and under the care of an SOS Mother. Social workers support the children and their psychosocial needs, helping them to overcome trauma, and each child has his or her own development plan that maps their education or vocational training.
Our SOS youth programme is under development and will be put in place for children as they move into young adulthood. Our youth homes provide semi-independent housing where young people continue their training and live together under the guidance of an SOS counsellor.
Children enjoy carefree moments
SOS Children operates a nursery school in Serowe, which provides day care for as many as 100 children from SOS families along with children from the local community. The children are cared for by professional staff, making the nursery a safe environment where they are able to enjoy playtime while learning important social skills and preparing for primary school.
We arrange many activities for SOS children, such as camps and visits to local sights, to give the children an opportunity to enjoy themselves, and experience carefree moments, while building knowledge and skills that will be useful as they enter adulthood.
SOS Children runs a small clinic in Serowe that provides treatment for minor medical conditions to SOS children and staff. More complex medical treatment is provided by Serowe’s hospital facilities.
Families in Serowe face a host of challenges. We support the most vulnerable, and offer lone children a new loving home. Will you give orphaned children in Botswana, and sponsor a child today?