Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Boipelo's Home

I visited Boipelo's village within a couple of days of her passing away. I took my 'bakkie' (Toyota Hilux 4x4) full of things that were deemed to be useful at the funeral house. The items I carried included several chairs from the salon and many bags of mealie meal. Mealie Meal (or Maize Meal) is the staple diet of most people in Southern Africa and once cooked it would be served to the mourners visting the funeral house with a green vegetable and some sort of meat (probably goat.)

I was quite shocked when I first saw Boipelo's home. It was a very basic structure. Her family home was barely two rooms and this housed her parents and her siblings. Within the yard there was evidence of a small building project. The foundations had been laid for what I later found out was to be an extra couple of rooms for the family. One of the great tragedies of Boipelo's death was that this project would never be completed. Her parents and her siblings lived in desparate poverty but Boipelo would send money to her family from her earnings at the Salon. With this money the family were trying to improve their living conditions. Unfortunately Boipelo's elder siblings were not working and what little money they ever had they squandered on alcohol. Boipelo gave hope to her parents as she could ensure that her two younger siblings would at least grow up in a better physical environment than she did. That hope more or less died with Boipelo.

From that time onwards I noticed many examples of unfinished housing structures around Botswana. The HIV/AIDS pandemic has killed so many young people like Boipelo. Young people, who had a sense of responsibility and wanted to ensure that their families were provided for, cut short in the prime of life.

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