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Creating her own luck

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The only girl in a family of boys, Tsame grew up spoilt by her brothers and hardly imagined a time she would need to fend for herself away from her loving family.

However in 2008, the girl from Tonota with a protected childhood was hit by a reality check when she was suddenly thrust into a whole big new world when she arrived in the UK to pursue her MBA studies as a self sponsored student.

“ The first six months were a nightmare, I honestly hated it. Nothing seemed normal. The icy weather, environment, language, culture; everything was foreign and unsettling Talk about understanding how a fish must feel out of water. I was in the deep end and had to swim or sink,” she says.

Eleven years later she remembers someone telling her that if she can live in London, she can definitely live anywhere else in the world. “I cannot emphasis how true that statement is,” she says.

Explaining how she survived in a fast paced environment Hopkins says she was clear on the rules of engagement right from the beginning.

“I decided on a strict lifestyle of very little play and total concentration on school.” Eventually her determination paid off and she successfully attained her MBA and got a job with Lloyds banking group, one of the biggest banks in the UK. Ambitious and career driven, she poured herself in the job and progressed quickly.

“I met and worked with some amazing people, learning so much along the way. It was exciting to work in various divisions, including Insurance, Savings &Investments, Group Reference Data Systems, Change Management and now the unique chance of working on one of the biggest transformation projects within the business. In addition to her role, Hopkins extended herself to her Bristol community through her volunteerism with Refugee women of Bristol.

“I was not only giving my time and assisting with projects but I too got to learn more about myself. It also helped in keeping me centered. Corporate can be competitive and demanding especially when one has also set themselves timeframes for success,” she notes.

Luckily, it was opportunities outside of work that allowed Hopkins seven greater discoveries of servitude and allowing nature to take its cause.

“The charity was a fantastic organisation and led to my involvement with others as I discovered my interest to live a more meaningful life giving back. The truth is self-reliance and financial freedom of women goes a long way in building stronger communities,” says the woman who has become even more curious to explore being involved in charities back home especially those geared at social and economic upliftment of women.

As she got comfortable and happier in her role as a professional and community builder, Hopkins started a family.

“I met my husband in 2011. He proposed three months later and we got married three months later, so we were together for six months in total before we tied the knot. I did not only take up my friend’s name but we also got blessed with the most beautiful baby girl. My husband is fantastic and I couldn’t have asked for a better companion. The Lord really listens and exceeds expectation,” she says with a smile.

TIRELESS: Hopkins

What she likes best about working in the UK is the fact employers understand and encourage strong families to the point where career breaks and flexi hours are recommended and encouraged for new moms.

“I appreciate that there is a strong culture of family and therefore it is not frowned upon to choose family over work. This can be the man or the woman. In fact one could be judged harshly for choosing career over one’s strongest asset: the love and bond of family ties. So now that I am a mom, I work reduced hours while looking after my little girl. That has also given me time to reflect on my life and consider my next interests,” Hopkins explains.

Commenting on her home country, Hopkins is adamant that only until one has travelled the world can one truly appreciate the unmatched quality of life that Botswana offers.

“Botswana is truly one of the most fortunate nations. However, people must not be complacent. We need to be open minded and driven to build on as much knowledge and experiences as we gain to keep building on our own,” says Hopkins.

As a reminder to herself and others, she says, “Life is not a competition of who has more of what, so there is no need to be envious of someone else’s life. I just wanted to be me and very proud to be me. As I continue to discover more I can’t help but thank the almighty for his blessings.”

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Elephant mortality in Okavango rises to 110, Anthrax ruled out

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Wildlife and National Parks department has ruled out Anthrax as a killer disease for elephants along some villages in the Okavango delta.

As of Friday last week, at least 110 dead elephants were discovered in areas of Seronga, Gunotsoga and Eretsha in the past three weeks and were suspected to have died from Anthrax.

However the Anthrax laboratory tests have come back negative, leaving the government departments searching for more answers. 

“Laboratory results have ruled out Anthrax and we are awaiting more results,” explained regional Wildlife coordinator in Maun, Dimakatso Ntshebe.

Ntshebe said his department through the help of veterinary department services are still conducting further tests to find out whether or not this mysterious disease is not a result of poisoning.

The disease according to Ntshebe causes the giant’s front legs to weaken and therefore the unwell animal walks in uncoordinated manner and ultimately drops to its death.

“We don’t know what could be the cause of this disease but we are working around the clock to find out and hopefully work on the cure,” added Ntshebe.

Some samples are to be sent to South Africa for further testing. “We could have taken other samples to the neighbouring Zimbabwe, but because of COVID-19 that brought everything to almost a standstill, we could not send them,” Ntshebe explained before adding that, “before coronavirus outbreak, Botswana and Zimbabwe were in talks and have entered into some agreements including exportation and importation of certain medications, but we have not yet concluded the matter regarding samples, that is why we have not been able to send samples to Zimbabwe.”

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SADC Executive Secretary disturbed by obstacles in movement of goods

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The Executive Secretary of SADC, Dr Stegomena Lawrence Tax, has cautioned member states that any lack of cooperation among then during the COVID19 era has potential to reverse the gains made in the last decades.

Addressing a virtual SADC Council of Ministers meeting this week, Lawrence Tax said that the regional ministers approved Guidelines on Harmonization and Facilitation of Movement of Essential Goods and Services across borders early April. 

She said that whilst the guidelines have played a critical role in facilitation of movement of essential goods, there are notable obstacles that have been noted by the Secretariat.

The obstacles include non-compliance/non recognition of regional legal frameworks; uncoordinated operations at the port of entry among border agencies; lack of harmonization and synchronization of policies and procedures among, and between member states; unilateral decisions outside agreed framework; as well as different approaches to deal with epidemiological challenges,” she said. 

She added that; “all these are resulting in increased cost of doing business, and negatively affecting the implementation of national and regional programmes”.

She advised that there is need to have measures, and coordinated approach in place since the region is in a post lockdown period since the transportation of non-essential goods and services will be resuming.

Lawrence Tax added that COVID19 is a global pandemic and that the SADC regional approach should expand to COMESA-EAC-SADC tripartite and eventually to other continental blocs.

“The Secretariat is already working with COMESA and EAC, specifically, in terms of harmonizing and synchronizing regulations and procedures for movement of goods and services under the Tripartite arrangement. We need to move in unison and avoid unilateral decisions, specifically with regards to cross border movement of goods and services,” she said.

According to the Executive Secretary, the regional office has already conducted a socio-economic impact analysis of COVID19 on the region and the results have shown that the pandemic will impact negatively across many socio and economic sectors.

“The decline in the global economy is projected to lead to a decline in commodity prices, increase in debt and significant contraction of the SADC economies in 2020. This will reverse the gains on industrial development and trade that the region has made in the last couple of years,” Lawrence Tax said.

On the flip side,  the region’s International Cooperating Partners have made pledges to mitigate the impact of COVID19 pandemic on its economy. 

“To date, the Secretariat has secured Euro 7.3 million from the German Government; Euro3.6million from European Union, Euro 190,000.00 under the GIZ/Africa Union Commission, whereas the African Development Bank (AfDB)  has considered a support UA 7 million. Engagements with the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) are also at an advanced stage,” the Executive Secretary said.

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