As one of the Directors of SensoBaby, I get to meet wonderful and inspirational people all the time. People who care about the community and work to make a difference. When we started the Thrive programme, bringing play opportunities to sick children, we were overwhelmed by the support. We soon found out that one of the volunteers, Kebonye, was not only giving up her time to visit the wards but had an amazing project of her own: The Di Keletso Make a Wish Trust.
I caught up with Kebonye to find out more about the initiative and find out how people can support her work.
Caroline: What is Di Keletso Make a Wish Trust?
Di Keletso: Di Keletso Make A Wish Trust is a Not for Profit Trust. It’s set up to grant wishes to children suffering from life-threatening illnesses. It started operations in August 2018.
C: How was it started?
K: My family has been affected by cancer and after seeing what it does to families, I felt I needed to do something. I decided that I wanted to focus on children with cancer. I then felt that I should include all kids with life-threatening diseases, as together with their families, they face battles we can never comprehend. The catalyst to go down the route of ‘Make a Wish’ was reading ‘The Fault In Our Stars’ by John Green. It was a recommendation from my then 12-year-old daughter. I approached Make A Wish International to start an office in Botswana but when that failed I decided to do it myself.
C: What sort of wishes have you granted so far?
K: We have had eight referrals for Wishes so far. We have been able to grant four of those wishes to date. We sadly lost three children before we could grant them their wishes. The problem we have is that we have limited funds so it is difficult to grant wishes in a timely manner.
Our first ‘Wish Kid’ was a young man who wished to see Gaborone City and learn how to draw. He came from one of the villages and only really knew Princess Marina Hospital. We gave him a tour of Gaborone in a convoy of Ford Mustangs. We took him to the Three Chiefs Monument, Parliament Buildings and The Gaborone Dam, among other places. He also had a Drawing Masterclass at Thapong with one of their talented artists.
The second wish came from a 7-year-old girl from Sese, who wished for all things Sweet. We gave her a Princess Birthday party with cakes, cupcakes, candy and cotton candy.
The third wish came from a 12-year-old boy from Thamaga, who wanted toy cars and the fourth came from a 7-year-old boy also from Thamaga, who wanted a Red Bike. The ones we were not able to fulfil in time were a wish for PlayStation for a 6-year-old and A Painting MasterClass for a 12-year-old. We are currently working on getting the eighth wish.
We thank all the heroes who supported these wishes by donating their services, vehicles, time and money. Not all heroes wear capes.
C: How can people help?
K: There are various ways people can help: the best way is to donate cash so we have funds to grant wishes quickly where needed. It is heart-wrenching to lose a wish kid before their wish can be granted. We do a lot of travelling out of town to grant wishes and this incurs expenses. Another option would be to have individuals and companies make pledges to grant wishes so that when we get a request, we know who to contact.
We also need people to make referrals. We’d love to have children referred to us early on in their diagnoses. That way they can get to enjoy their wishes.
We started this with no money at all but we could not wait any longer for sponsors or donors. We still do not have any consistent funding but have been able to carry out these wishes through the help of very wonderful individuals who heard our cry for help when we approached them with our wishes. We’ll forever be grateful.
C: How can people get in touch?
If you think you can help Kebonye on her mission to put a smile on the face of children with serious illnesses, please get in touch!
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