Philanthropist Gorata Phakedi felt she had no choice but to quit her job in the Delta when it conflicted with ‘what she does best’ – helping those in need.
The golden-hearted 32-year-old Mabutsane native has contributed immensely to her community through her charitable works.
She has big plans to do even more in the future.
In this interview with Voice Reporter, KABELO ADAMSON, Phakedi highlights both the hardships and joys in running One Another Charitable Society (OACS), an organisation that is moving mountains despite little financial muscle and no sponsors.
What inspired you to establish a charitable organisation?
This came after the realisation that Mabutsane is a small village and we were all well raised by our parents.
We asked ourselves what we were doing to say thank you to our village!
The idea is to leave behind a legacy because in the end we are going to leave this world.
It doesn’t make sense to earn a lot of money which is only for your satisfaction yet someone next to you is suffering.
Kindly share with us some of the initiatives that OACS has undertaken.
The society was officially registered in 2018 and we are based in Mabutsane. Basically we are a charitable organisation.
In our society, we have lots of activities that we undertake and the main one is a football tournament which we host annually during the Easter Holidays.
The tournament consists of teams from Mabutsane as well as those from neighbouring villages and we are hosting the tournament for the fourth time.
We don’t have any sponsors at the moment, which requires us to finance these activities from our pockets.
This year we decided that we are going to step back from the tournament a little and leave it for the teams to run.
But issues of logistics will always come back to us.
Any other schemes you oversee?
Yes, last year we introduced the Orphans Tea Sessions. When we started these sessions, the idea was to make it a national event.
This year already, six people from different villages have shown their interest in hosting the sessions.
The motivation behind this initiative was after losing my mother at the age of 26, I asked myself how must a six-year old in the same position feel.
So, the main purpose of the tea sessions initially was that we come together as orphans, share tea, experiences etc.
During our first session, people who lost their parents a long time back were able to find closure.
One thing I have picked up is that the reason some people are tormented by the passing on of their loved ones is that we don’t allow them to cry their feelings out.
Another initiative we have is that every December we give out 10 food hampers to 10 families in our village, each picked from the 10 wards that exist.
Those families are chosen by a Ward Headman.
Sounds interesting! So even without a sponsor, it seems you’re managing to make quite a difference?
Yes, I have also personally adopted a 2020 Form One class for Mabutsane Junior Secondary School and will be with them until they write their Junior Certificate exams, providing them with motivational talks during the period.
The reason why I have adopted the school is that it has been performing badly academically.
People believe by adopting a school one needs to have a lot of money, which is not true.
You can adopt it by providing motivational talks like I do. You can also organise fun days, especially for boarding students because it can be frustrating for those students – fact is one cannot spend the whole day reading!
Every year, during my birthday I hold an initiative towards improving other people’s lives.
Personally I do not spare any money towards the celebration of my birthday; instead I am the one who gives.
This is something I do during my birthday which comes on the 10th of February and every year I run a campaign towards this cause.
Putting a smile on someone’s face is what makes me sleep peacefully at night.
We don’t have much but we try and this is the whole point of OACS!
How does the organisation survive without a sponsor?
We finance activities from our pockets honestly. We have approached many companies but it seems like they do not understand what we do.
But we are hopeful something positive will come up this year.
I believe having done these activities for the past three years, someone out there will be convinced this is something they can put their money in.
Other than the financial challenges really we have a support base in Mabutsane and would be honest to say we have many other challenges besides that.
It’s obvious you have a passion for humanitarian work. Is this something you were born with or did it develop as you grew up?
My mother was a giver but she never forced us to give. I personally learnt the importance of giving, especially giving and expecting nothing in return.
You give because you want to make a difference in somebody’s life, not because you want someone to see that you have given!
I am mentoring one guy who I am very proud of. He donated a house which he built with what he earns from Tirelo Sechaba!
He doesn’t earn much, but because he understands the concept of giving, he did it.
I always tell the people that I mentor that I don’t have money, but only heart to give and it is love which drives me every day.
I had to quit my job last year where I was working in the safaris in the Okavango Delta.
I had planned the Orphan Tea Session and had scheduled it to coincide with my off-days.
Shockingly, when it was my time to go on off, I was told I am not going anywhere!
I had to write a 24-hour notice because, although I was getting a salary, they wanted to hinder me from doing what I believe fulfills my heart.
And thus my first Tea Session went ahead.
When you are not busy with charitable works, what are you up to?
It’s not like I am anti-social or anything, but when I relax I will just be home.
And finally, Thank God It’s Friday, what are your plans for the weekend?
I will be going to Hukuntsi to bury my mentor who has sadly passed on.