Apr 27, 2021

COVID Conundrum Leads SSI to Think Differently

Creative Thinking with New Participants
Creative Thinking with New Participants

2020 was a very difficult year for the world affecting us economically and psychosocially. The children and families at Stepping stones International were especially affected in lock down with schools closed, jobs halted and family violence increased. Our psychosocial support staff and community service providers visited and assessed more than 200 households and children during the national lockdowns. SSI provided homework packets, referrals to clinical services and counselling services.  More than 50% of the families needed immediate attention and support.

It is in this light that Stepping Stones International reassessed our services and is moving to become more digital and environmentally friendly. This quarter SSI has focused on identifying a case management system to better track and manage our clients, a new server and cloud for improving our knowledge management and creating policies and guidelines to become more ‘green’.  The children have started to recycle and SSI is investigating solar panels given the frequent electricity interruptions.

Furthermore, this quarter we recruited more adolescents from households in need, especially those highly affected by gender-based violence, child-neglect and poverty. We recruited 64 adolescents from different schools including primary and junior schools, giving us a total of 120 adolescents attending after school services daily. These adolescents are offered nutritional meals daily at the centre, counselling, life skills and educational activities including tutoring and English literacy lessons. They are also offered transport from school to the centre and to their homes every day.  The services are being included in the digital system to better serve the child’s and family’s specific needs.

The new recruits are being enrolled in a STEM program in collaboration with Destination Imagination, which will be reported on next quarter.

Learning Basics of Computer Use
Learning Basics of Computer Use
Jan 4, 2021

Gender Based Violence Advocacy in Action

SSI continued our fight against gender-based violence [GBV] and child abuse as cases continue to sore amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. Our work this quarter focused on building awareness and understanding through a number of prevention initiatives, while also increasing our direct support to victims and survivors. Although it’s been challenging to meet the increased demand, the pandemic resulted in a nationwide call to action to mobilize a response against GBV and we have good news to report!

SSI delivered focused dialogue sessions for young mothers as part of our ramped up psychosocial outreach and support services in response to the pandemic. In collaboration with representatives from the Department of Gender Affairs, SSI counsellors facilitated support group sessions for young mothers in the Khatleng District. Young mothers were able to discuss challenges they face that have been exacerbated since the pandemic such as co-parenting, caring for their own mental health, and child support. In addition to getting the opportunity to connect to each other and build community, participants were also referred to ongoing services and resources as needed and even received sanitary pads thanks to a thoughtful donor.


As a leader in GBV and Child Protection Advocacy in Botswana, SSI increased our efforts this year to meet the urgent need for more action to disrupt worsening violence in the region. SSI’s very own Chirwah Mahloko, Human Rights Advisor, sat on a panel of experts and changemakers to discuss the Sex Offenders Registery Bill 2020 and other related interventions the government is rolling out to address GBV. The segment aired on Botswana TV and included many key officials, including representatives of the Ministry of Defense, Justice & Security, Administration of Justice, Ministry of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs, and Botswana Police Services among others.

SSI leaders were also featured on GABZ FM, the primary radio station in Botswana to give our input on the days’ most pressing challenges surrounding child abuse prevention. We reviewed a critical issue in addressing child protection: Is Corporal Punishment a solution to child abuse or does it condition youth to perpetuate violence against each other in today's society? We had the opportunity to unpack this topic and explore the importance of balancing culture and tradition while pushing against these norms to create change and increase safety. Through social media we also engaged our community in this discussion to encourage the conversation within the community.

SSI has been steadfast in our pursuit of justice for victims of violence, a major component of our Freedom from Fear campaign. Through this initiative we provide support and advocacy to help victims feel ‘free from fear’ of reporting and free from fear of having to watch their perpetrator escape justice. We are especially thrilled to report that the Government of Botswana [GoB] has launched 25 gender violence courts as an effort to increase a timelier justice response and hold perpetrators accountable. This decision by the GoB is not only a concrete action that can reduce violence, but it’s a symbolic gesture that signifies an important shift in how the government and the public view gender issues. Nearly 70% of women in Botswana report having experienced physical or sexual abuse, which is more than double the global average, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNPF). We still have a long way to go to eradicating GBV but swift, accessible justice for victims is a significant step in the right direction.

Stay tuned to SSI's updates in 2021 as we launch our Freedom from Fear docudrama film!

Dec 26, 2020

Learning and Experiencing with VR

VR girl photo-1
VR girl photo-1

Learning and Experiencing with VR – National Park Experience

Participants explored a national park by using virtual reality (VR) headsets. These headsets provide a ‘real’ experience for the youth. The main objectives of the sessions were to:

  • Explore through virtual field trips – Participants learned about and saw different animals that they had never seen before. For some of the youth this was the first time they experienced a national park. They encountered different species of animals, learned their behaviours and what they eat. Participants also absorbed the beautiful landscapes, hills, vegetation, oceans and water waves. Furthermore, the participants also went on a field trip with the United States army, on a mission.
  • Bring science to life – Participants also experienced flight and roller coaster simulators. A roller coaster application was used to illustrate potential and kinetic energy, as well as the forces involved in a roller coaster. This activity also helped in building their motor skills as they had to balance during the activity.
  • Help fight phobias – VR was used to demonstrate how someone who prevoiusly had a fear of heights, could experience liberation after being exposed to heights in the virtual setting – They even got to experience the joy of a roller coaster! By overcoming fear, participants gain more confidence and courage to face challenges in other areas of their lives too. The VR experience emphasised how life’s challenges, fears, and “phobias” can first seem like  limitations, however are really opportunities to grow and learn how to cope with fears.
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