Segametsi (referred to as Sega) is a twelve year old girl staying in Mosokotso with her thirty two (32) family members, who consist of  the grandmother, father, uncles with their wives and children, aunts with their husbands and children, sisters and cousins, some of whom also have children. Segametsi lost her mother. She dropped out of school in second term of 2011 while doing standard two at Lephaleng Primary School and was found tending goats by a Hope World Wide Botswana (HWWB) community volunteer, during school hours. The volunteer was concerned and wanted to know more about her and her family.

The HWWB volunteer followed Segametsi home and was concerned with what she saw. The volunteer came back the following day with a HWWB Officer and conducted an assessment of the family members they found present at home. On assessment, Segametsi’s grandmother confided that she was physically abused by her husband. The volunteer talked to a sixteen year old girl in the same family and found out that she was pregnant and had not registered with the clinic for Anti Natal Care (ANC) and had never tested for HIV. This young girl was referred to the clinic and they discovered that she was underweight and provided her with supplementary foods. The clinic registered her for ANC.

Another of Segametsi’s sisters was also assessed, she too had dropped out of school while doing standard two and she had two children.  Her children had never been immunized and it was clear that the children were neglected as the mother sometimes left them to go and stay with the boyfriend who was hired at the lands in Kgatleng District, about 95 kilometers away.

On assessment, the HWWB staff discovered that Segametsi was being abused physically and sexually by one of her uncles, staying with them. When HWWB staff tried to find out more information from the grandmother, she became hostile and together with her husband threatened to be violent. HWWB reported the matter to Police who assigned them a Police Officer to accompany them whenever they visited this family. On learning about the case, the Police Social Worker took over the case and referred Segametsi to Kagisano Women’s Shelter for temporary shelter while they investigated the case. This was a result of Segametsi’s fears to disclose details about her abuse because she was afraid she would be beaten at home.

At the shelter, Segametsi could hardly talk, when asked about anything she would not respond.  Staff at the Women Shelter started counseling Segametsi who eventually got used to them, trusted them and opened up. It was exciting that one of the days while at the Shelter, Segametsi asked the counselor to call the HWWB Program Officer because she wanted to tell her that she needed shoes and clothes. This clearly indicated that Segametsi had started coming out of her “shell” and gaining some level of confidence.

Segametsi is still at the shelter, she tested HIV positive and was referred to Baylor Children’s Clinic in Gaborone where they found out that her CD4 count was still high and are monitoring it on a monthly basis. The shelter is working with a Government Social Worker in Gaborone to assess the child and decide on a safe place where this child will be transferred to.

HWWB is continuing to work with Segametsi’s family to address other issues in the family which include alcohol abuse, domestic violence, neglect and exploitation of children. However, given that members of this family can be violent, HWWB staff will continue to work with Police and the Social and Community Development Department to try and assist members of this family.

Hanna Community Health Worker