SERVAS Botswana—First National Workshop

11-13 February 2005, Serowe, Khama Rhino Sanctuary


Inaugural Meeting - . - Agenda

Where hosts are :
 Francistown : 2
Gaborone : 5
Gaborone area : 2
Gantsi : 1
Lobatse : 1
Maun : 2
Molepolele : 1
Palapye : 1
Serowe : 1

Updated 04/06


Servas is at least 15 years old in Botswana. Felix and Mmacheri were among the first members. Sheldon was an initial coordinator and then handed over to Regina Dambe. Regina was planning the 1st National Workshop in Kasane when she had a stroke. She died a few years later. Servas is small in Botswana with ten hosts in 2004 and visitors only from Canada, Israel, Netherlands, Sweden and USA.

Initially fourteen adults and eight children were expected to attend this inaugural meeting. Due to circumstances beyond our control we had only ten adults and two children participating. People invited from Servas International in Sweden, Malawi and Reunion were unable to attend. The inaugural meeting was still judged to be a success. The rain on Friday evening, though it drove us indoors, was welcome and made for a cooler weekend.

The 1st Servas Botswana National Workshop was held at a place in Central Botswana with the objective of making it accessible in half-a-day’s drive to people in northern and western Botswana. As a consequence, because until now we had no members in that part of the country, we rented a low-cost facility with ten beds and space for tents within the Khama Rhino Camp, a nature sanctuary. As a result we may have between three and five new members from Serowe and Palapye. The expected list of participants by Friday the 11th of February, the agenda and objectives for this first meeting of Servas in Botswana are appended below. The cost of renting the A-Frame and three Squaredovales for two nights came to P 1,833.10 (or US$ 407.35 paid for by Sheldon Weeks). The people who participated in the workshop have in addition to covering their transport and park and vehicles fees, have also covered most of the cost of food and a contribution to Stella Maila and Kobamelo Tsitevedi who helped prepare the five meals. This came to approximately P930 ($206).

11 February

Present: Felix, Sheldon, Nonofo, Seele, Dane, Claudia, Odette, Otha (see below for full names, etc)

This informal meeting was used to introduce people to each other. These Servas people are either born in Botswana or are long-term residents. It was noted that people from other countries are more interested than before to visit Botswana, and that publishing our host list through Servas may attract more Servas visitors. They will then benefit from the varied background of our hosts: journalists, teachers, health professionals, artists, and so on.

Dane, Claudia, Odette, Otha are interested and potential new members from Serowe and Palapye. Dane has been in Botswana for 28 years. He is an artist who has built and runs the Serowe Arty Gallery, which opened in April 2004. Otha is from Barbados but is a permanent resident (having first come to Botswana with the UNDP in 1978, married a Motswana, and became a businesswoman in Palapye). Claudia and Odette are commerce teachers in secondary schools and are from Jamaica originally. Their schedule presented them from being present more than Friday evening.

12 February —

Present: Felix, Sheldon, Nonofo, Seele, Maria, and Mercy

Sheldon, who has been the Coordinator after Regina Dambe passed away, opened the meeting.

  1. Introduction of members:
  2. Sheldon: Since 1950s involved with liberation struggles, peace, workcamp, volunteer and other activities, including Servas, initially in US, later in various other countries. Was asked to re-start Servas in Botswana, where he has been since 1991. He is presently retired (was Dean of Graduate studies at the University of Botswana) and is now involved with Servas, Kagisong Centre, Kagisano Society—Women’s Shelter Project, and writing on education and peace related issues for the papers (e.g. corporal punishment in schools). Stays in Tlokweng. Gudrun is German speaking and a concert violinist. She regretted being unable to attend this first meeting in Botswana because of illness.

    Nonofo: She is a pharmacy technician in Francistown, a single parent with a daughter
    who has just graduated from the University of Botswana. She likes travelling and has
    travelled to neighbouring countries, staying with friends or holiday club. She got to know
    about Servas through Felix.

    Felix: He is originally from the Copperbelt in Zambia, but has been in Botswana since 1990, working as laboratory technician in mission and government hospitals in several towns and villages. Involved in India originated activities/religion. He is not yet married, but has a small son. He hosted Servas visitors from Argentina once at Rakops, but has not travelled to Servas hosts.

    Seele: She was born and bred in Botswana’s historic village, Serowe.
    She is a pharmacy technician, mother of one son, and has travelled to
    places in Southern Africa/Botswana. Learned of Servas through Nonofo
    and has come to the workshop to know more.

    Mercy: She is also from Serowe. She did her national service as primary school
    teacher in 1995, and then studied Theology at the University of Botswana and
    taught moral education for two years in a secondary school (but she was not
    qualified as a teacher). She thus switched to Travel and Tourism and went to
    Cape Town for four years to do a degree. She is keen to work in that field. She also
    learned about Servas through Felix, and could be a day-host at present in Serowe.

    Maria: She came to Botswana in 1986 through involvement with independence movement. She is an expert on vocational and technical training and has managed a number of brigades. She now works in the private sector and lives just outside Gaborone. She is involved in HIV/AIDS and the inclusion of people qwith disabilitgies. She has read about travel networks, but chose to get to know about Servas since it is links people with ideals over and above just travelling.

  3. Servas organisation
  4. Servas International is worldwide and the General Assembly meets every few years, last in Barcelona. Sheldon attended that session. The meeting was problematic because of issues with funds unaccounted for. Africa is divided in Anglophone and Francophone regions. An Anglophone meeting for Southern Africa was held in Malawi in 2003. The report of this meeting was circulated.

    Botswana as a host country is newly inaugurated with this meeting. The report and photos of this meeting will be circulated in both the regional and international newsletters. Botswana’ s size might calls for a subdivision into South, Central and North/West, necessary to make interviews for potential hosts and Servas travellers easier.

    National committees consist of an overall coordinator, and ideally a host list coordinator, treasurer, peace secretary and newsletter editor. Fees are usually charged to travellers for stamps that go on the letter of introduction. The amount is decided at the annual national meetings.

    Botswana had five stamps in 2004, but only two travellers. We had no stamps in 2003, and only one traveller, who had to purchase their stamp in Germany (unfortunate, as if the stamps had been sent to Botswana it would have been free). Maybe they were sent but were lost after Regina Dambe died? Botswana has 10 free stamps for 2005. Hopefully with more members we will have more outgoing Servas travellers. More then ten stamps a year must be paid for.

    The meeting decided that at present there are too few travellers to warrant a fee. Sheldon was requested to continue to be Coordinator and manage the Host List. A formal organisation will only be formed when we have more members in Botswana and more travellers come and go from Botswana using our "Open Doors". At present the volume of members does not warrant a constitution, bank account and/or a treasurer. [It now costs over one thousand pula year just to maintain a bank account.]

    Regarding peace activities the meeting decided that people should rather join existing activities/organisations in their area. A T-shirt from the Movement for the Abolition of War was displayed from the Botswana Branch and is on sale for P60 each from Sheldon [see photo].

    Experiences from other countries emphasize the importance of very clear instructions to reach host places. Also a contact place for meeting and cell phone numbers of the host are required. It is best of all hosts in Botswana can also have e-mail. Those who d not yet have e-mail were encouraged to join an internet service provider (ISP) like "Yahoo" which is free.

    The need to know and be able to play peace games was emphasized. Members were told about our link with Sweden and that we hoped to benefit from their assistance. Members were also encouraged to travel to Sweden. The Australian, McGowan report on their visits in Southern Africa in 2002, was circulated and members found it of value.

    The need for other countries to share their member’s reports on their travels in Southern Africa was also highlighted.

    Expansion of members in Botswana: We discussed how more members could be brought into Servas. Is it viable to advertise? Not in Gaborone papers or the advertiser. We need to attract members in Kasane, Hukuntsi, Tsabong and Kang. We only have one member in Western Botswana (Birthe in Gantsi).

  5. Smiles and Tears and Bright Ideas

Smiles: Servas established in Botswana. Meet new friends. Good food in plenty. Loved Rhino Camp and seeing the Rhinos. Thanks to Stella and Kobamelo for the food.

Tears: No one was able to come from Maun and Gantsi. The potential member from Kasane has vanished. That those who came on Friday couldn’t stay on Saturday. That no games were played.

Bright ideas:

  • Hold meeting in 2006 in Maun and stay with hosts there.
  • Hold meeting in 2007 in Gaborone and stay with hosts there.
  • Every member must have a free e-mail account (like Yahoo).
  • A press release on the First Servas National Workshop should be sent to the press.

    Some photos from SERVAS Botswana—First National Workshop


    Odette, Claudia, Otha and Dane in A-Frame (Pula)


    Meeting Gazebo and Sheldon’s tent at Boma


    A-Frame [upstairs 2 beds, downstairs kitchen+bed]


    Visit by White Rhinos (four of 22 in the sanctuary)


    Maria, Felix and children at Squaredovales


    Kobamelo in the kitchen of the A-frame at Boma


    Stella and Kobamelo
    model Movement for the Abolition of War [Botswana Branch]
    T-shirt — skulls and bombs front
    USA led wars since 1945 on back


    Breakfast is ready in the Gazebo


    Stella upstairs


    A frame and open ablutions at Boma




    2 children at KRC


    First National Workshop, Khama Rhino Camp, 11-13 February 2005

    Number Names Contact

    1-3 Chikabadwa, Cathy Maun

    4-5 Sabina, Nonofo Francistown with Seele Mannaesi

    6-8 Overeem, Maria (+ 2 children) Gaborone

    11-14 Williers, Dane Serowe, With Otha Archer, Claudia Johnson and Odette Creasy [Palapye]

    14-15 Mulenga, Felix Lobatse with Mercy Molapisi

    17-19 Weeks, Sheldon Tlokweng with Stella Maila and Kobamelo Tsitevedi
    Gudrun was ill an unable to attend.

    20-21 Molefe, Dorcas Molepolole NOT COMING with Molemo Molefe

    22 Makamo, Betty Molepolole NOT COMING

    23-6 Moyo, Aggrey & Sabeliso Maun NOT COMING with two children

    27 Gjern, Birthe Gantsi NOT COMING

    28-31 Mareka, Moremi &Mmachere Gaborone NOT COMING with two children (?)


    Adults = 17
    Children = 02