helps to build
a child's future.
in providing at risk children
with an education.
Everything started under the shade of a tree and with the good will of an Irish lady named Emily Cusack; a qualified nurse who decided to travel to Botswana to volunteer for three months. This was at the end of 2002, and Maun was a very different village from what it is now.
Being new to Maun, it was easy for Emily to identify a growing number of children roaming behind the supermarkets and shops, sniffing glue, begging and practicing petty crime. With the support of Maun Counselling Center, which had secured initial funding from United Nations Development Program, and with a borrowed car, Emily started collecting some of these children from around town to spend “quality time” under the shade of a tree. Emily’s objective was to instil some joy into the lives of these children and to start making them realise the potential that they really have. She did this initially by doing fun things with them like painting, playing football and traditional games and she provided them with a snack that would often be their only meal in a day.
In 2003 Bana Ba Letsatsi (BBL) was granted use of part of the Botswana National Youth Council compound and access to their kitchen, old garage and a small room in the back of this plot. By this time BBL was supporting about 30 children and Emily, with the essential help of two ladies from the community, started giving the program more structure and a new drive. Until then, all of the funding to run BBL’s activities came from Emily’s odd jobs in town and from the people and companies that she mobilized. But before the end of 2003 Emily met Bobbie Crosby, an American lady looking to assist special projects in Botswana. Bobbie, leading a newly started foundation called Somarela Fund that was started in the memory of her late husband Player Crosby, changed the course of BBL in that first meeting and set it off on its strong path forward.
Unfortunately, Emily had to make the decision to go back to UK and looking for someone to harbour the reigns of a newly energised and resourced BBL, she came across Lilian Costa; a young Brazilian lady who had just arrived in Maun to be a volunteer for a HIV/AIDS educational programme.
With the financial and moral support given by Somarela Fund, combined with her professional experience acquired in the corporate sector in Sao Paulo, Lilian managed to push BBL to its next stage of life. By 2008, BBL had a wonderful and committed staff team that helped create a unique support system to over 200 children, youth and their families. Also BBL had become a model of social support programs to other similar projects in Botswana.
Following from Lilian, Fiona Hatton coordinated BBL from 2008 to 2011, and then Charlie Ellis from 2011 to the present day.
BBL has a shining future. Building from its solid foundation it will continue to support the vulnerable children and youth in Maun for many years to come.