Priest Builds House for Poor Family
By Sr Phatsimo Ramokgwebana SC – A priest built a house and then handed it over to a single mother of ten children.
Fr Foster Olator is stationed at Lwapa la Lerato parish in Jwaneng, in the diocese of Gaborone, Botswana. Seeing a need, the missionary priest from Ghana built the house in Betesankwe village, about 20km from Jwaneng.
The key handover ceremony of the house was held in the presence of government dignitaries, priests, religious and the congregation at large.
The story goes back to Fr Lator’s predecessor, Fr William Horlu.
“At one point in 2013 Fr Horlu expressed his concern that every time while doing shopping in town he met some boys who always looked very hungry and unkept,” said Ango Ramsden, the Safe Space Project coordinator at Lapa la Lerato parish. The priest tasked the project to look into their situation.
“We established a mutual relationship of trust with the boys. Although it was not a keen experience, we eventually invited them to our church where they would receive clothing, food and bathing necessities,” Ms Ramsden recalled.
As the relationship developed, the Catholic group became interested to know where exactly these boys resided. They located the children, living with their mother, Ketshwaraemang Nato, in a small makeshift shack of plastic in the heart of the bush just along the fence outside Jwaneng town.
From there on, the church decided to improve the welfare of the family. Not long after, Fr Horlu was recalled to his native Ghana to serve as his diocese’s vicar-general. He was replaced by Fr Olator.
Upon his arrival, the new priest was introduced to the family of Ms Nato. Soon he revealed to the Safe Space Project his dream of building a house for the family.
But obstacles soon appeared. It turned out that none of the family possessed any formal documentation such as birth certificates or national identity which were necessary for the family to be allocated land. The children were naturally born in the bush and raised in the bush.
Fr Olator and Ms Ramsden tried to obtain a birth certificate and ID for Ms Nato but encountered problems since the family had no relatives who could witness for them.
Consequently Fr Olator liaised with the government as a representative for the family. Eventually the Land Board offered to give the family a plot. Now Fr Olator could kickstart his project of building a shelter for the Nato family.
At the handover ceremony, Fr Olator noted that the name Ketshwaraemang means “who will come to my aid”.
“I extend my gratitude to Almighty God for having sent me to Botswana to be his instrument of his mercy to help alleviate this family from their struggle,” the priest said.