I grew up in Botswana fairly ignorant to the challenges it is faced with because it was all I knew. It was only when I moved to Australia to study engineering that I encountered the stark contrast between the two worlds and realised Botswana’s need.
During one of my university holidays in 2004, I was asked to take pictures and video footage of an orphan care event in Gumare, a village in the northern parts of Botswana. It was while taking pictures at a lunch organized for these orphans that I felt overwhelmed by the sheer number of orphans and the need for them to be looked after. The orphan care program was run by the Botswana Union Conference (which my mother was helping to coordinate) who had great plans to run orphan care programs on a daily basis at key locations around the country but lacked the resources to build permanent facilities. The dream was to care for orphans and vulnerable children by addressing education, nutrition and self-worth needs. A dream so inspiring I felt compelled to do whatever I could to help.
My inspiration solidified when a person who works for my family told us she had HIV/AIDS. She had been cooking and cleaning for us for many years and had essentially become part of our extended family. She died a couple of years later and her question echoes for the rest of the estimated 100,000 orphans in the country… who will look after my child?
Together with my friends in Australia, we started the Botswana Orphan Project – a movement of people focused on delivering a message of hope to vulnerable children… the innocent victims. Since that orphan lunch in 2004, we’ve worked with local partners to build six orphan centres around the country. It’s been hard work, and we’ve had our fair share of challenges, but we’re committed to the dream: teach, feed, clothe vulnerable children.
- Ryan Williams