Funded and supported by FACET, Stepping Stones International’s ‘Finding the Leader Within’ programme targets youth in Botswana who encounter difficulty in completing high school or remain unemployed. With a rigorous curriculum to strengthen academic, financial and literacy skills, the aim is to return participants to school or help them find employment within 12 months.
In December 2015, three classes graduated the programme with a wonderful ceremony at Pilane Lodge. The graduates all supported each other, so that each award became a communal, rather than individual, experience – just one small example of how participants learn to support their community.
Entertainment was also provided by former graduates, ‘Yundreamerz Tainment Group’, who perform traditional song and dance routines.
Partnerships are being formed with local companies and enterprises to allow participants of the Graff Leadership Centre’s Finding the Leader Within programme access to opportunities that might otherwise remain closed off.
Initiatives put in place to date include a partnership with the gym in Mochudi to conduct sports sessions. The hope is that this will open up the chance for participants to eventually be selected for national teams. Sports associations that look after netball, athletics, softball and chess have also shown interest in arranging try-out sessions.
Leadership participants have also been given the opportunity for trial runs at the local Pie Time factory, a food-preparation company. Those who have completed their three-month trials, across a range of roles, have gone on to successfully fill permanent positions.
Other locals companies and NGOs have provided participants the possibility of job shadowing, enabling them to build an understanding of the differences in various work environments so they can channel their skills to the right roles when making job applications.
Participants on the Finding the Leader Within programme at FACET’s Graff Leadership Centre (GLC) in Mochudi have attended a selection of different workshops that aim to nourish vocational skills as well as educate on issues such as the dangers of substance abuse.
Five participants attended the Agricultural Business Workshop at Sebele and learned how to make an agriculture business plan, start and run a farm or garden, and how to keep such a business running smoothly. With their new skills they will run a leadership garden at the GLC.
The dangers of substance abuse are a key issue in the local community, and this interactive session saw 45 participants attend, all learning how to avoid being exposed to the substances and of their risks.
In another activity a number of participants learned to make bead jewellery, with the aim of selling their wares as part of an income-generating scheme. Larona, from the GLC, said: “I can make beads now and sell them to tourists for money. I am happy now.” Other business related activities included seminars on entrepreneurship and a networking dinner.
Leadership training participants have set up six different working groups to assist with the running of the Graff Leadership Centre in Mochudi. Volunteer-led and run, the participants plan each group’s activities and record their minutes and practice proper bookkeeping.
The groups that have been formed include one that looks after the library, keeping track of loans, setting penalties for late returns, taking the inventory and ensuring books are correctly arranged; another raises money to help its members apply for jobs through farming.
A third group encourages fitness. In their running of a soccer tournament, its members have developed their planning and implementation skills. A further group tackles the centre’s recycling needs, not only seeking the benefits to the community that come from recycling, but also searching for a method in which the practice can become income generating.
The final two groups help to run the computer centre, setting clear rules for laptop use, providing assistance in printing documents and engaging the IT officer to assist with technical problem solving; and focus on the psychosocial and well-being needs of Leadership participants, serving as peer counsellors. This latter group will refer their peers to the social worker when they are unable to assist them.