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Botswana gov't official: 'Volunteers are stigmatised'
11 December 2007
by Thato Chwaane

A senior government official has said that volunteers have been stigmatised as people who cannot get jobs.

Kebonye Moepeng, a management director in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture said on Wednesday that there is often a misconception that the youth who volunteer their services are irresponsible. She was speaking at the commemoration of International Volunteer Day at Tsholofelo Hall. She said that the day was about volunteers and their commendable efforts in sharing their skills, expertise and talent for free.

She said that by volunteering, the youth are paving a career path, to be responsible citizens and to familiarise themselves in the work environment. The theme for the commemoration was 'Youth Volunteering in Botswana.'

A Peace Corp volunteer at Women Against Rape (WAR) Danielle Dougherty said that volunteerism is about working together to make the world a better place. She said when people volunteer, they give and do not expect anything in return. She said as volunteers, they make lifelong friendships and share each other's cultures. Another volunteer at WAR, Gaone Tsenang said volunteering is about sharing and caring. Leabaneng Masedi from Matlo Go Sha Mabapi said she has been volunteering since 1998. She said she started at Ntlo ya botsalano in Otse before moving to Old Naledi. Masedi said being a volunteer requires one to have patience and compassion. "Volunteers need to be acknowledged that they exist," she said.

Tshegofatso Montshusi said she started volunteering her services in the Holy Cross Hospice when she was ailing. "When I recovered I was motivated to volunteer," she said.

Kefilwe Amos from the hospice said some ailing people do not have caretakers and hence their role as volunteers is important.

The volunteer day was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1985.