Youth Employment Program

In October 2014, the COE put on its first ever Job Readiness Training, part of the Youth Employment Program.

The Youth Employment Program is a partnership with Project Concern International, the COE, Humana People to People, Hope World Wide and Bakgatla Bolokang Matshelo in Mochudi. The goal of the programme is to provide marginalized youth with the opportunity to gain meaningful employment leading to economic empowerment, self-reliance and individual accountability. Youth undergo a rigorous programme designed to develop new skills, attitudes and behaviours to become productive employees bringing value to the workforce. Youth who once had no prospect of gaining meaningful income, after achieving employment begin to feel socially and economically empowered and can start to move in a more positive direction in their lives.

YEP was developed by local NGOs working with marginalized populations, unemployed youth, high school drop outs and communities with little economic opportunities. Through this program, these youth can become productive, economically empowered Batswana.

Youth are not the only ones who benefit from this program. Participants said

“Through JRT, I learned about respect and how to use it in the workplace, this will help me get a good job”

-male, age 20

Employers who employ graduates of YEP know that their employee has been carefully selected and trained prior to employment. Youth have skills that can set them above other employees. Skills such as managing workplace conflict, communication in the workplace, workplace ethics and code of conduct, gender in the work place and financial managing and budgeting all lead toward a competent employee.

The first cohort of YEP graduates was placed in employment with Peermont Global Botswana/Grand Plam, a five-star hotel and conference center in Gaborone. Currently, the program is looking to build other successful partnerships with other employees and businesses. These partnerships have a lasting impact on not only the organization but on Botswana as a whole by working towards empowering marginalize youth throughout this great country.

This training could not have been put on without generous support from KFC, who provided daily lunches as well as a providing staff to present on workplace communication. We look forward to continue to strengthen are relationship with KFC with incorporating them in future projects as well  possibly even placing graduates of YEP in their employment opportunities.

When life gives you lemons…

When life gives you lemons – make lemonade!

Teens making lemonde with an adult volunteer!

The August Teen Club opened with a celebratory circle as the teens sang and participated in interactive games. The teens were quick to show solidarity as each newly-arriving teen club member joined the enlarging ring. Seeing the youth gather in a circle showed the strength of a unified teen force!

The August Teen Club exposed some of the “lemons” tempting and trapping youth of the day. Specifically, the teens discussed the risks and realities of multiple concurrent partnerships, transactional sex and intergenerational relationships.

The younger teens engaged in a dynamic discussion to define multiple concurrent partnerships (MCP). The youth decided to simplify each word in the MCP phrase with their own definition to really slice n’ dice the lemon into understandable terms: “multiple equals many, concurrent means same time, and partnerships means physical union”. The youth then drew graphs to represent serial monogamy versus multiple concurrent partnerships. Some of the youth mentioned that MCP may be an accepted norm in certain cultural contexts, so they were eager to discuss the emotional, physical, and health challenges/risks that may motivate them to avoid MCP in their own lives and that may help them protect their peers from MCP. The teens then decided to compare “transactional sex” to a Barclays bank ATM transaction (receiving funds or material gain) to help them understand the concept of selling/renting one’s body or heart or emotions in exchange for material return. Rather than judge those engaged in transactional sex, the youth expressed sensitive concern for those who may be financially or socially vulnerable enough to participate in transactional sex. The youth also discussed the dangers of intergenerational sexual relationships, specifically expressing concern for the potential power differentials and gender struggles involved in those sexually active between a wide age gap. An MCP Project Officer from the Botswana-Baylor COE initiated a slide presentation for the youth to help orient them to the topics. The dynamic and energetic Teen Club Leaders were awesome about keeping the conversation interactive and keeping the teens engaged!

The younger teens learned about multiple concurrent partnerships, transactional sex, and intergenerational sex by viewing a 77-minute video which depicted the social scenarios of each context. They then described the temptations, challenges, and consequences faced by each character portrayed in the films. The teens were reminded about the Baylor Clinic being a safe space for them to discuss any social concerns in their own lives during clinic appointments or with scheduled visits with the Baylor social workers and Baylor psychologists.

The older teens were eager to learn about entrepreneur alternatives that could protect against fiduciary dependence (the teens recognized that MCP, transactional, and intergenerational sex is sometimes motivated by vulnerable people facing economic hardship enough to fall into risky lifestyles). A guest speaker from Stepping Stones International (an innovative after-school and community outreach program serving orphaned and vulnerable adolescents in Gaborone) lead the teens in a discussion to brainstorm small business ideas, to learn about the resources available to turn an idea into a project, and to explore the personal attributes required for entrepreneurship.

The teens then divided into small groups to turn boiling water, sugar, and fresh lemons into delicious of fresh lemonade. Through an interactive project, they brainstormed marketing strategies for advertising and selling their lemonade. The teens gulped down their successful drink recipes with their afternoon lunches.

Teens enjoying their lemonade at the end of the day!

Life has a way of handing out lemons. For example, many of the usual teen club youth were unable to attend teen club this Saturday due to their having to attend weekend school to make up for missed classroom days during the extended teacher strike. In a context of a “one-in-four” HIV population rate, a loss of guardians, academic challenges, social stigma, and financial barriers facing many of the youth – sometimes it feels like tart challenges and sour trials abound. But, the teen club youth show an incredible perseverance, a remarkable resiliency to chase joy, and a committed to ensuring a better future for themselves and for their peers. As the teen club youth helped each other cut up lemons, add sugar to one another’s recipes, and stir in solidarity… we were reminded of the refreshment of teamwork and life skills.

Meaghann Weaver, MD

Molepolole Teen Club: A Volunteer Passes the Torch

*For more information about our 2010 Fundraising Drive, please visit our Donations page.*

The following post is courtesy of Molly Waite, a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer and former Adult Volunteer for Molepolole Teen Club:

A Peace Corps Volunteer prepared a cake to celebrate over a year of Molepolole Teen Club events. (Photo courtesy of Lena Muldavin)

Molepolole Teen Club: A Volunteer Passes the Torch

Back in October 2008, when I was working as a new Life Skills Peace Corps Volunteer in Molepolole, Botswana, I joined a group of volunteers to organize a Baylor Teen Club in the village without actually knowing much about what it entailed. But eventually we found Hope World Wide Botswana, a local NGO (non-governmental organization) to sponsor the club. In November 2008, we started holding Teen Club meetings with about five HIV-positive adolescents, referred by doctors and nurses working at the local hospital. By May 2010 we had more than 25 members with the numbers still rising. So as myself and other volunteers prepared to leave, we decided to have a meeting with Hope World Wide as well as the new and old volunteers.

We began by discussing our many accomplishments. Two male and female Teen Leaders were elected and participated in planning and implementing the monthly meetings on the first Saturday of every month between 10:30am and 2:30pm. With the adult facilitators and the Teen Leaders we learned how to work together as a team to meet the needs of the teen members. We planned a day at a swimming pool to teach members to swim. Another time we invited a hip hop artist to teach us to dance. One weekend a year ago, we went to a local game reserve to learn about the animals and to improve teamwork within our club, and planned many life skill activities. We learned about self-awareness by drawing an outline of each teen on the floor, followed by writing and discussing the individual’s personal qualities. Barclays Bank Botswana sent representatives to teach the teens how to handle money through projects involving budgeting. We have had sessions on dating, medication adherence and ARV medication, etc. More recently we have watched and discussed videos in Setswana and English about discrimination against those living with HIV as well as how to live positively with HIV. And in addition to all this we have conducted energizers, sporting activities, lunch and crafts.

So as I left Botswana in June 2010, I felt assured that Molepolole Teen Club will be in capable hands and continue in the near future to address the challenges that our teen members have in terms of living positively and learning how to be future leaders. Both the Teen Leaders and the adults have a passion and commitment to lead the club forward. So I can feel assured that the group we started over a year ago will be in good hands.