For the less fortunate children of Old Naledi, a community that’s a symbol of poverty in the nation’s capital city, Saturday was an extraordinary day in which they indulged in cake, hot dogs, and chips among other delicacies, while enveloped with the euphoria of the beauty pageant they partook in. After which they watched a Chinese film meant to expose children to China and the rest of the world.
“I am very happy that I won the beauty pageant contest. I was nervous, but I was determined to win,” said Lesego Kgabo, who was crowned Mr June 16 and King of Tsholofelong Children and Youth Trust, otherwise now also known as the Chinese Charity Care Centre (CCCC).
The Day of the African Child commemoration, which Kgabo enjoyed and will cherish for years to come because of his win, was organised by the Charity Association of the Chinese in Botswana (CACB). A Chinese organisation that in 2016 officially partnered with Tsholofelong Children and Youth Trust, driven by the desire to help the needy children of Old Naledi.
“Partnering with the trust guaranteed us what we sought the most, which was a long term relationship with the trust that would see the Chinese in Botswana make a significant contribution to the growth and personal development of the children of Naledi. Ensuring they become competitive and confident adults capable of influencing the socio-economic development of Botswana in the future,” said Hu Yan, Vice General Secretary of the CACB.
As the man who manages and maintains the Chinese’s relationship with the trust, Hu, who has been living in Botswana for over 20 years, comprehends the significance of the Day of the African Child, hence his eagerness to ensure the children of Old Naledi are not left out because they are poor.
“This year the June 16 theme is ‘Leave No Child Behind for Africa’s Development’, no country can develop when its poor children do not have equal opportunities with those of the rich, opportunities that make them confident citizens,” said Hu.
Naledi South, Ward Councillor, Mathata Mosekwa said the beauty pageant that was part of the day’s event was to motivate children to love hygiene, while eating food their parents would otherwise not afford.
On the African continent, the Day of the African Child has been celebrated every year since 1991, when it was first initiated by the Organisation of African Unity. This was because in Soweto, South Africa, on June 16, 1976, about ten thousand black school children marched for more than half a mile, protesting the poor quality of their education and demanding their right to be taught in their own language. Hundreds of young students were shot, the most famous child being Hector Peterson. Over a hundred people were killed in the protests that followed, and more than a thousand were injured. Four decades later, the day honours those who participated in the Soweto Uprising. The day continues to raise awareness of the lingering need for improvement of the education provided to African children.