Dare to dream: the story of Bakang Molefi

18th April 2018
Bakang Molefi Source:The Midweek Sun


By Ernest Moloi -

Bakang Dithapeo Molefi, 20, is the perfect embodiment of resilience. Here’s a young man that has defied all adversities to become the master of his Fate. Purposeful and self-driven, Bakang is confident of a bright future ahead of him, as he embarks on a life-changing educational odyssey that began in 2016, when his mentor – Thabo Botshelo, a Social Worker at SOS Serowe – chanced upon an advertisement for scholarship in a local daily newspaper. The advertisement was for applications for the Ashinaga Africa Initiative – an academic leadership programme targeting orphaned students from 25 Sub-Saharan African countries to help them access international higher education so that they can contribute to global development.

As one of the over 100 orphans and vulnerable children placed at the SOS Serowe, Bakang sprung up with excitement, his eyes dazzling with prospects when Botshelo dared him to apply for the scholarship. He did not consider his personal tragedy of losing both parents at a tender age, an inhibiting factor. In fact, he was emboldened by his station in life, a character trait Botshelo affirms of Bakang. He knew that unlike other children that have the luxury of being raised by one or two parents, he had to work extra hard to realise his dreams. And big dreams, they were.

That same week in 2016 he applied and it took a few months to receive feedback and he was called with four other candidates for interview at the Embassy of Japan in Gaborone in April 2017. He was selected and invited for a six-month study camp in Uganda, where he was drilled on the processes of applying for University. Yoshihiro Imamura, Director Ashinaga Uganda was in Botswana last week with colleague, Sarah Bourenane Staff member of Ashinaga USA and also a former Ashinaga Intern to conduct a screening process of the 100-Year Vision Scholarship Programme for 2018 candidates.

In an interview with The Sun, Imamura said they were in the country to interview the five shortlisted students from which only one candidate (an orphan) will be selected for placement in a University of his/her choice. He said this year 2800 applications were received from the 25 sub Saharan countries participating in the programme. Bourenane explained that Ashinaga - a Japan-based NGO that has supported over 95,000 orphans in the last 45 years, follows a strict criterion – candidates must be orphans of 17 to 22 years and must commit to return to their home countries upon completion of their studies. If an applicant fits this bill and passes the document screening and interviews, he/she is then admitted into the programme. She said they had received a total 50 applicants from Botswana out of which only 26 were eligible.

On Friday The Midweek Sun met some of the shortlisted candidates that had gathered at the embassy for screening. They expressed a burning desire to be selected. At the same meeting, Bakang Molefi, the Thamaga-born lad who did his junior secondary at Ramlokgonami JSS and then went to complete his senior secondary at Lotsane SSS (2015 – 2016) was present to prepare for his next mission –a preparatory camp in Uganda that starts in May. Bakang was placed at SOS Serowe in 2008 after due diligence performed by social workers. According to his mentor, Botshelo, he is a hard worker, a resilient person that perseveres against life’s adversities and a fearless fighter that will not be deterred from achieving his dreams.

Botshelo is elated that Ashinaga selected Bakang from his SOS in Serowe, adding that Bakang’s brother was also selected in 2017 through Government’s Top Achievers programme for placement with a UK-based University. In an interview Bakang said he is going to study Digital Arts in a US University majoring in Animation with a minor in Business Management and Entrepreneurship. When he comes back hopefully after four years of study, he intends to promote awareness in the country and eventually set up his own Art Gallery of Private Art Museum. Botswana is grappling with 27 323 registered orphans as at March 2018. And according to a spokesperson of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, Masego Ramakgati, government continues to provide these orphans with school uniform, transport fares, bedding and toiletries. In addition, Government ensures that orphans are exempted from cost sharing fees, are provided with psycho-social support as well as given special dispensation for access to tertiary education. An amount of P234, 054, 440 was allocated for orphan care programme for the fiscal period 2017/2018, said Ramakgathi.

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