Mr. Kgodumo works for the Social and Community Development office. He is the head Social Worker. His home village is Lecheng but he has been posted in Nata for the past 5 years. He is married to Morapedi (a nurse at Nata Clinic) and has two young girls. I happen to love that fact that his name is Kennedy as it was President John F. Kennedy who founded the U.S. Peace Corps in 1961. Social Workers outside the developing world would be shocked at his workload and the types of duties he must perform. As a Community Development Officer he must attend the meetings of the Village Development Committee in not only Nata but the three surrounding villages of Manxotai, Maposa and Sepako. Many villagers cut the tall grass that is used to roof houses and he arranges for the sale. He arranges for the food baskets and school uniforms of 400 orphans and for the subsistence of 200 destitute people. One of the more difficult jobs he performs is arranging for the burials of people who cannot afford caskets. Kennedy tells me that before the ARV’s people were dying so quickly he just kept a stack of caskets in his storage room. Thanks to the ARV’s the caskets now remain at the nearby funeral home. But that still does not stop the difficult decisions that fall on his shoulders. Just this morning while I was in his office, the funeral parlor called and said that a crippled man in Nata had just died and they cannot fit his disfigured limbs into the casket. We actually had to have the discussion of whether to cut the man’s legs off or to try and have a special casket constructed before the burial on Saturday. Because the man is a destitute we don’t know if the council will pay for a special casket. This is just a day in the life of Kennedy.
The social workers office where Kennedy works. The office has no electricity.
In addition to these kinds of problems, he must also advocate for young girls that are raped or defiled by male family members. He recently had to arrange placement for a 15 year old girl who became pregnant by her father. The father was arrested but is now out on bond so the girl had to be sent to a shelter in the capital of Gaborone. He feared the girl may be killed by the father for pressing charges so he had to arrange for her safety. HIV/AIDS has placed a heavy burden on his office. Due to the pandemic the workload has increased to a level that is not even manageable. Kennedy himself has lost family members to AIDS and is frustrated that some people will not adhere to the ARV treatment. Kennedy is an amazing person. One of Kennedy’s favorite expressions is “it’s a bumpy road”. Despite all the difficulties, he can flash a smile that will light up the room. Kennedy has become one of my closest friends and confidants. I often go into his office to vent my own frustrations about my job, the dying, and the apathy. He leans back in his chair and says to me “it’s a bumpy road”.
Social Worker Kennedy and Environmental Officer Dipuo take a break eating locally grown sugar cane