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Bush Ways Foundation Raising Trauma Awareness

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Article published in the Ngami Times, October 2015, by Thuso Rammidi

“The recently hosted two-day trauma training workshop which was aimed at raising awareness and equipping participants and caregivers with essential skills needed in dealing with traumatized children and elderly within the community has been deemed a success by its organizers.

The workshop, which was facilitated by Solid Rock Training Consultancy in partnership with Bush Ways Foundation (BWF) as sponsors and a Canadian organization, Lamb International, as trainers brought together some targeted participants from non governmental organizations (NGOs), churches, teachers and staff members from some of safari operators, as caregivers for their regular work with vulnerable children, teenagers and elders in the community.

Beauty Bogwasi, the director of Solid Rock Consultancy and the facilitator of the workshop, said in an interview that there are a number of reasons which motivated the hosting of the workshop in Ngamiland. This was after she had earlier attended the training where she met the trainer, Ruby Johnson, of Lamb International.“I was looking at the number of NGOs working with children in Maun and was convinced that there is a desperate need for trauma training workshop for caregivers. It also targeted churches, teachers and parents, who needed to understand how to relate with vulnerable children and the elderly,” she stated.

Through her other involvement as director of Aglow International, a project which works with the elderly destitute, she realized there is trauma amongst the elderly. She also revealed that through her partnership with BWF in Teen Mothers projects in Khwai village, which educates orphaned teenage mothers, there is also prevailing trauma experiences among the girls, who are said to be aged between 13 and 16 years.

While not in a position to state the statistics, Bogwasi believes there are many traumatized people in Ngamiland. According to her, the training workshop was highly successful based on the feedback gathered from participants, as they concurred collectively that it opened their eyes in two ways, first at personal level then their organizations, secondly.

Personally, she said, participants were able to assess how they were treated as children, how they treat their own children and also how they treat children at their workplaces, as they managed to acquire number of skills and strategies on dealing with traumatized children.

Asked if the training was a once –off thing, she said they are planning to host level two of the training next year, but pointed out that they will firstly start with a foundation which is level one, before they re-invite the trainers to work with a bigger pool of participants.In the safari industry, she said, there are community liaison officers who work with community schools, elders and vulnerable children at the camps and believes they will benefit from the trauma training.Bogwasi, whose company’s mission is ‘making you relevant’ and provides training in business, cultural awareness courses and personal life affairs and also as the director of Aglow International (Botswana), a project for the elderly, said further training will not only benefit people who work with children but also those who work with elders, adding that they will host another level one course before inviting Lamb International for level two training.

For her part, Maria Ramsden, the coordinator of Bush Ways Foundation, which partnered with Solid Rock, explained that Bush Ways Safaris has recently formed a foundation to focus on various community projects and the workshop appealed to them, as they also deal with groups of people who has been exposed to all types of trauma.She revealed that for the past four years, the company has been donating to different NGOs in Maun, Khwai and Kasane, namely Bana Ba Letsatsi, Aglow, WoMen Against Rape as well as Teen Mothers project, in Khwai, pre-school in Kasane which they donated a mini-bus.

“In Khwai, we have a project, Teen Mothers, which consists of 23 girls aged between 13 and 16 years with first-born children. We teach them to read and write as well as giving them jobs at our camps where they work as auxiliary staff and chefs depending on their choices,” Ramsden explained, adding that these teenage mothers are orphaned and interchange into their work schedules where half of the girls take care of the other half’s children when they are at work and they keep changing positions, as they have no one to look after their kids after their parents died of HIV/AIDS.

Ramsden explained that Bush Ways Foundation aspires to change lives of people in the community where it operate camps.She thanked companies in the safari industry – Safari Destinations, Delmond Safaris and Great Plains – for sponsoring different participants from NGOs as well as their own staff members, adding that their gesture provided a good platform as it brought together NGO that work together in the same issues and opened a forum for them to collaborate in future.

According to Ruby Johnson, traumatic events, though not limited to children only, are known to affect many aspects of child’s life and can lead to secondary problems that include difficulties in school work and relationships. He added that traumatic stress can overwhelm a child’s sense of safety and can lead to variety of survival strategies, adding that trauma can illicit intense fear, anger, shame and helplessness. She explained that caregivers should be able to help affected children to develop a strength- based understanding of their life story and make new meaning of their traumatic history and current experiences.”

By Thuso Rammidi

Source: Ngami Times