My official title is Organisational Development Advisor with BONASO (Botswana Network of AIDS Service Organisations). What you might ask does it really mean? Hopefully this post will answer some of those questions but you must understand that I am still learning as well.

Botswana currently has the highest rate of HIV and Aids of any where in the World and due to that there is a government program to attempt to stop the epidemic. There are also a number of very large development programs/funders pouring money into the country to assist the effort.

I have been hired to help tackle the capacity building of civil society organisations (basically what we can non-profit organisations back home in Canada). What is capacity building? It is identifying, teaching and creating tools/learning within organisations and service providers to address the following:

  • policy planning and strategy development
  • good governance
  • project formulation and management
  • networking capacity
  • financial sustainability strategies
  • resource mobilisation
  • knowledge management
  • advocacy
  • gender equality

To do this I will be meeting  and developing relationships with the relevant government ministries, major funders such as the World Bank, FHI (Family Health International), USAIDS, NASTAD (National Alliance of State and Territorial Aids Directors) among others.

One of the main projects that I will be reporting on and building capacity for is call Maatla (meaning strength in Setswana).

“The goal of the Maatla Civil Society Strengthening Program is to significantly and sustainably strengthen the capacity of the civil society sector in Botswana to support HIV/AIDS and related health service delivery.   The program ensures that local non-governmental organizations have the skills and resources to implement high-quality programs for the delivery of a wide range of HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and care services for the long term. It also seeks to develop and implement a model to strengthen district level systems of CSOs and local government to provide and coordinate HIV/AIDS services in the hard-to-reach areas.”

The reason Oscar and I came to Kasane was three fold – and you thought that I was just being a tourist!

  1. To help build a District Coalition of HIV/AIDS service providers for the Chobe District
  2. To build relationships with and better understand the local District level and their programs
  3. To visit with local service providers and encourage them to join BONASO as members.

So while you all thought that I was running around having a really good time (which is definitely true) I really was working very hard. There were long meetings, constantly meeting new people with which BONASO wants a good relationship, representing the brand as Oscar calls it and doing site visits to learn about and connect with the actual service providers. This included visiting a preteen and family clinic that is doing incredible work; a clinic for truckdrivers and sex workers just at the border to Nambia, Zambia and Zimbabwe, a Human Rights clinic along with other sites. At each site they clearly explained who they provided services to and what the gaps/issues were.I have discussed male circumcision,  methods of foreskin removal for adult males and the needs of sex workers all at breakfast before the day has truly begun. I nearly exploded at a the District Council meeting yesterday when the local nurse reported on the abortion statistics and the doctor chairing the meeting completely missed the point of the information being delivered. Instead of focussing on the fact that because there were 24 abortions it meant that these young women were having unprotected sex, they focussed instead on whether the abortions were medically necessary or criminal. I just wanted to yell that these numbers show that the prevention methods are ineffective – thankfully Oscar addressed the issue so I wouldn’t explode. The District Council agreed to continue to track the numbers and see if the trend is increasing. If it is it means that the prevention messages aren’t hitting home and need to be revised.  It is my job to now problem solve how we can build capacity to provide services, create better connections and communications between them and the associated government programs along with a multitude of other capacity building initiatives.

While both Oscar and I feel that our efforts have been successful here when we return to Gabs it will be my job to develop a work plan by Wednesday to outline the follow up work that needs to be done. Plus, we are preparing for a Board Retreat, Nov 8 to 11, AGM on Nov 14 as well as other projects.  I am sure that 15 months will not even begin to cut it but Oscar assures me that it is plenty of time of make a concrete difference. I will hold him to that, plus with him as a partner I know we can succeed in achieving a change for the better.

So hopefully that gives you an idea of what else I have been doing other than just being a tourist in the Chobe District of Botswana.

3 thoughts on “My Work

  1. It sure sounds very interesting Cheryl and lots to be done but I’m sure you are up to the task. Good luck!! I enjoy reading your posts. Take care

  2. That sounds like fascinating work Cheryl. I know that you are up for that challenge. Good luck. Keep posting, I am a few days late getting to read your posts, but it is incredible that we can share your adventure. Love the pictures.

    1. Thank you ladies! I am glad that you are enjoying it. It is funny that it has become almost a daily habit of mine to find at least a few minutes to write something and I never seem to want for topics. In fact, I have several that I want to write but am too busy to do it…stay tuned!

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