Phomphokwe Women’s Association (Botswana)

Solar Panel Project

Phomphokwe Women’s Association

Several years ago, a group of industrious women in a rural village – Sefhare, Botswana – joined forces to create the Phomphokwe Women’s Association. They believed then and now that they can learn from and support each other in their struggle to provide the basic necessities for their families. With the help of an Ursuline nun from Australia – Sister Frances Boston, and Mothers for All (a nonprofit based in Botswana and South Africa – www.mothersforall.org), they learned to make beautiful jewelry and other crafts from paper. In addition, several were trained and have disseminated information to other women about how to garden using permaculture/sustainable methods, such as using reclaimed water, companion planting, and fertilizing with chicken waste. Gardening is tough in a country that is three-quarters Kalahari Desert but they are able to provide at least some fresh vegetables to their families and when possible, generate income by selling to others. The goal of this project it to help these women generate more income so they can provide a decent living for their families.

To date, the markets for their jewelry have been small and gardening needs on-going investment (shade cloth or shade plants, gutters for homes, storage tanks, hoses, seeds etc.). The group is comprised of eight women who want to continue this work but need to generate more income. This project will invest in their gardening endeavors and help identify other markets for their jewelry sales.

In addition, they propose to start a business selling small solar units that after one day of sun generate power for four LED lights that last over six hours and include two cell-charging outlets. This will be a micro-loan enterprise. Each unit will cost the women approximate $140 and they will sell each unit for a little profit. The money they generate will be used to: purchase more units and keep the business afloat; pay back the loan (this money will be reinvested in their other ideas over time); and of course, to provide much needed income. They will work in teams of two to hone their sales techniques in Sefhare and nearby villages.

These women want to use what they have – the sun, gardening skills, chicken waste, reclaimed water, and paper products destined for burning – to make beautiful and nutritious things. The solar units will ensure more families have lights (so children can study at night, etc.). A cleaner environment, healthier food, lighting for people who cannot afford electricity and ensuring these dedicated women can earn a decent wage are the project objectives.

All donations for the women’s group are tax deductible. Checks can be made out to Worldwide Endeavors, 600 Constitution Dr., Durham, NC 27705, with notation in the memo field: Botswana Project, or you can donate through this website. For more information, contact Gina Upchurch at gina_upchurch@hotmail.com.