From April 2009– March 2010, Charles Kibaara volunteered with Skillshare International as a Business Advisor on the Botswana Rural Communities’ Livelihoods Programme (BRCLiP). Charles was based at the Okavango Brigades Development Trust (OBDT), which aims to secure sustainable livelihoods and greater social standing for marginalised communities. Charles worked with the vulnerable and socially-excluded communities of Basarwa, Bayei, Hambukushu and Baherero tribes in Ngamiland, Northern Botswana.
I wanted to serve the people with an organisation that cares. I also wanted to share my skills and community development experience with people in disadvantaged areas.
I managed to significantly open up the local communities by showing them how many resources they have (fish, culture, river, tourism opportunities etc) and how to use them effectively. Through the information, communications and technology (ICT) training, the communities improved their social and economic welfare, with some members of the community offering computer services in their village and surrounding areas.
We also ran outreach programmes where we attended community meetings and encouraged young people to get involved with the OBDT to improve their vocational skills.
Within a short time I have seen the lives of people change dramatically. I have also grown professionally as a researcher and trainer.
Sharing my ICT skills and experiences with the community and seeing the will and effort they put into their activities to change their life still lingers in my memory. Changing someone’s life for the better is a strong memory, which will last a lifetime.
Marginalised communities have a lot to offer to ‘developed’ communities, and we can learn from them as they learn from us. It was a privilege to work with such inspirational people.