Monday, January 26, 2009

The Botswana Association for Positive Living ~ BAPL

We have officially become an NGO through the Register of Societies here in Gaborone!  After hearing it would take ages because of the slowness of the government, I was fired up to make it happen quicker.  It should have taken a minimum of 14 business days from January 15th, but a little persistence worked in our favor and the process was done in 7 days.  We are in the flow of things, gaining momentum to begin the pilot in a couple of weeks.  The establishment of a local NGO is key for the public-private partnership we are cultivating.  BAPL is the body through which we can link with civil society and become a part of a larger network of efforts to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa.     

As an organization, we are focusing on youth, seeking to empower them through mentorship. Our project team is young itself, all of us between the ages of 22-27.  We are youth, working with youth, with the vision of collaborating to cultivate a positive lifestyle that encourages people to connect with each other and to live healthy, vibrant, and fun lives.  As human beings, we are connected with others around us and it is by reaching out and connecting that we create synergistic forces that can make great feats possible.  Synergy is a force that is greater than the sum of its parts.  As we seek to have a significant impact on the HIV/AIDS epidemic, this project will need the force of synergy to fly and spread to the many communities that make up Botswana.      

There is a beautiful concept here in southern Africa, that comes from Zulu, known as ubuntu.  Ubuntu is the philosophy that as humans, we are made up of the people with whom we interact; we are not solitary individuals acting in a vacuum.  In Zulu, it means, "a person is a person through other persons."  If we support each other and teach each other, then we are strengthening the whole.  If we choose to act selfishly, then the whole is undermined.   

Within BAPL, we will be mentoring youth in areas of IT, public relations, NGO and business operations, and patient relations.  We hope to eventually employ a few of them to run the NGO and mentor the next wave of youth.  In the future we want to mentor youth to be peer to peer educators who will be involved in educating  each other about HIV/AIDS, spreading knowledge about how the virus works, how antiretrovirals (ARVs) work, and how to get social and emotional support.  Our first activity is to host a soccer/football tourney in Gaborone to raise awareness and funds for our organization and of course, to have FUN while doing so.  We'll keep you posted.  


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