News: Botswana Happy with Peace Corps Service

This was posted in the national daily newspaper just days after swearing in, but I just got a hold of a digital version to post. A copy from the original newspaper is taped just on my wall behind my desk at work.

Botswana Happy with Peace Corps Service
16 June, 2010
– Botswana regards peace corps volunteers (PCV) as service
providers of repute, especially on HIV/AIDS programmes. The volunteers are mainly deployed at the District Multi Sectoral AIDS Committees (DMSAC).

Speaking at a peace corps swearing in ceremony in Molepolole on Friday, Assistant Minister of Local Government, Mr Kentse Rammidi said the volunteers were expected to facilitate development of a district HIV/AIDS response plan, which included strategies to overcome barriers to an effective district and sub district level response.

He said the volunteers would also coordinate, monitor and evaluate plan
implementation through the Botswana HIV/AIDS response information management system and to advocate against stigma and discrimination of people living with HIV/AIDS. Some of the targeted programmes for volunteer services included community home based care (CHBC), orphan care and PMTCT. For her part, peace corp director, Ms Peggy McClure said the volunteers were expected to serve for two years in different parts of the country, saying they have come at a time when HIV was threatening this country’s 40 years of hard work.

Ms McClure said with anti-retroviral therapy, behaviour change and greater
understanding of how to prevent mother to child transmission, infections were being prevented, but an average of 30 people were being infected with HIV every day and 10 000 each year. She noted that the volunteers were tasked with helping to reduce the rate of new infections and create an AIDS-free generation.

For the past 44 years, Botswana has been enjoying US assistance focusing on poverty alleviation. During that time, volunteers came in the form of engineers to help lay out the infrastructure, site boreholes to provide water, health workers, teachers and advisors to government ministries.

Another speaker, Mr Richard Matlhare from the National AIDS Coordinating Agency (NACA) said government was working with a tighter budget than ever before, adding the orphan programme for this financial year needed P450 million. He therefore urged peace corps volunteers to help the country to achieve more with fewer expenses.Mr Matlhare said there was a lot to be done, as the main purpose was to strengthen the capacity of individuals, service providers, organizations and the community to mitigate the effects of HIV/AIDS through behaviour change, preventative services and care delivery.
He said the technical agreement was operationalised mainly through local
government, health and education ministries. He highlighted that the programmes support areas were capacity building, HIV prevention, PMTCT, voluntary counseling and testing, CHBC as well as life skills programme for the in-school youth.

Mr Matlhare said the PCVs project has assisted in getting men, women and youth to participate in activities that promoted healthy lifestyles and emphasized prevention on HIV/AIDS to facilitate achievements of vision 2016 goal of no new infections.

Out of the group of 56 PCVs starting their two years of service this year, 14 would work with the district AIDS coordinator’s offices, 17 would be sent to clinics and social welfare and community development offices, 10 would work for nongovernmental organisations, primarily serving orphans and vulnerable children while 15 would work in life skills programme in schools in various villages in the country.


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