The Nata Blog was born as a result of a world traveler, Jon Rawlinson, passing through Nata on the way to the Okavango Delta. The tour books referred to Nata as nothing more than a dust hole and he had no intention of spending any time there. But, as coincidence would have it, he met a Peace Corps Volunteer named Melody Jenkins who is working as an HIV/AIDS educator and community capacity builder. Jon was interested in seeing more than the tourist destinations of Africa and wanted to learn more about the impact of HIV/AIDS on Botswana. After just one night of meeting the locals and hearing first hand accounts of the struggle to control the spread of the disease, Jon was hooked and wanted to help. He has since been back to Nata twice and has been introduced to the Kgosi (chief) and most of the professionals working to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS. Nata will benefit from the fact that our world traveler is also a professional producer and editor as well as a website designer. Jon and Melody worked on a documentary about HIV/AIDS in Nata in hopes of bringing the story of Nata to the world. Jon discovered an incredible village filled with the beautiful Mokolowane Palm trees lining the Nata River. Unlike most tourists, Jon wanted to do more than just snap a few photos of elephants and giraffes and return home. He wanted to make a difference and offered to design and administer this website.
After much discussion and the frustration of donations going to large organizations that rarely get to those that really need it, Jon and Melody decided to try and help the people of Nata with this website. They wanted to do something about the fact that people were dying of AIDS in Nata because they didn't have $4 to reach the ARV clinic 60 miles away in Gweta. They sought the assistance of local businessman, Seloma Tiro, as he was the only local with a laptop, server, and internet connection. Mr. Tiro offered to help in anyway he could and became a co-founder of this site. Millions of dollars are pouring into Africa but people in remote parts of the country rarely get the benefits of this generosity. We hope to profile the specific needs of the village and give our visitors an opportunity to help. But, beyond a fund raising tool, we also want our visitors to meet the people of Nata, learn their stories, and get an intimate look at how they live. We will feature people living with AIDS (PLWA's), youth groups, clinic staff, social workers and others. We hope to give the visitors to this website an inside look at an African village and see how people live on a day to day basis.
Current blogger and technical advisor: Pedro Martinez
Pedro Martinez was born in Michoacan, Mexico. He moved to Southern California at 2 years of age and was raised in the greater Los Angeles area. He graduated from Van Nuys High School and worked with at risk youth in Los Angeles. He worked with the California Conservation Corps back country program. He graduated from the College of the Redwoods in Humboldt County with a degree in Administration of Justice. His Peace Corps service will run from June 2008 to June 2010. He is very excited to carry on the work of the co-founders and use his experience to help Nata's youth.
Melody Jenkins grew up in Southern California in the United States. She worked for 12 years in Community Mental Health. Starting as a social worker she moved on to psychotherapy and then to program development and administration. In 1997, with a B.A. in Psychology and a Masters in Counseling she volunteered (with the Peace Corps) for 2 years in Guyana, South America and served as a consultant at the National Psychiatric Hospital. At the conclusion of service she spent four years in the Caribbean where she taught at a private school and worked in eco-tourism. After missing the excitement and fulfillment of working in the developing world, she joined the Peace Corps again to serve as a Community Capacity Builder for HIV/AIDS in Botswana. She was the first blogger of this website and Co-founded the Nata AIDS and Orphans Trust. She chose to extend her service in Botswana a third year and completed her service in June 2008. Peace Corps Volunteer, Pedro Martinez, took over blogging in July 2008. Melody plans to continue working in the field of HIV/AIDS in Africa.
Martha Ramaditse is a native of Nata and went on for further studies at the Helderberg College in Capetown, South Africa. Martha holds a diploma in Marketing and worked for two years as the chief financial officer for the Northgate Complex in Nata. Martha is very excited to be a part of bringing the story of Nata to the world wide web. Martha assisted on this site from March 2006 to October 2007. Unfortunately she moved outside of Nata but continues on as treasurer of the Nata AIDS and Orphans Trust. She has started her own small business and is a model for other young women in Nata. Martha hopes that her contribution will assist those living with HIV/AIDS in her home village.
Mr. Seloma Tiro: Co-founder
Mr. Seloma Tiro is currently the Chairman of the Nata AIDS and Orphan Trust which manages the funds generated from this website. This website would not have been possible without his generosity. For the first 18 months we were online, Mr. Tiro loaned Martha and Melody his laptop computer for blogging, paid for all calls to access the internet and allowed us to use his server. He all but turned over his own private office to us. We are now blogging from the Nata Clinic as they recently received internet access. Mr.Tiro is a nominated councilman for Sowa Town and is the owner of the Northgate Lodge, Northgate filling station as well as the Engen filling station and shop in Nata. Mr. Tiro was born in the small village of Mmadinare and was trained as a teacher. He rose to the position of Headmaster at Maun Junior Secondary School. In 1993, Mr. Tiro chose to leave his profession and strike out as an entrepreneur in Nata. In just 13 years he has managed the two most successful businesses in Nata and employees over 70 people. He is respected in the community as an honest businessman and is always available to help the villagers. At the birth of this website there were only 3 people in the village with internet access. Without Mr. Tiro's generosity, this website would not have been possible.
This site was designed and is administered by Jon Rawlinson.
About the Nata AIDS and Orphan trust
When this website was born on March 4, 2006, we had no idea what to expect. The response to the site has been overwhelmingly positive. Once the first donations started to come in we immediately set up a board of trustees to manage the funds. As of January 4, 2007 the Nata Aids and Orphan Trust became an official registered Trust in Botswana. We are legally a non profit organization. The Trust receives all the donations generated from this website. We have a 6 member Board of Trustees and 3 ex-officio members which include our chief, councilor, and Village Development Committee chairperson. None of our trustees receive any compensation for serving on the board. As of May 2008, we have raised over U.S. $50,000. We have made many purchases. We bought a sound system and generator for Mabogo Arts and Culture Productions, paid transport for People Living with AIDS to get to the ARV clinic, benches, fans, protective clothing, 2 otoscopes, fetal heart monitor, professional scales, digital thermometers, medicine, chairs, washing machine, fax/copier machine, office supplies and cleaning supplies for Nata Clinic, uniforms for the PLWA support group, and clothes and food for orphans. In May 2008, we broke ground on a youth activity center with a $10,000 donation from two readers. We are extremely proud of our accomplishments and very grateful to every one of our donors. We are truly proud to be the first village in Botswana with a website. Below you will find our objectives, long term goals, and a listing of our trustees:
1. To promote HIV/AIDS awareness.
2. To assist people living with HIV/AIDS.
3. To assist groups providing HIV/AIDS educational activities.
4. To assist the 400 Nata Orphans with clothing, food, and school supplies.
LONG TERM GOALS
1. Build an orphan day care center.
2. Build a support center for people living with HIV/AIDS.
3. Support Nata Youth in hopes of promoting a zero transmission lifestyle.
The trust is managed by a six member Board of Trustees. Trustees will serve for 2 year terms. Trustees will never receive compensation for attending Board meetings. Trustees serve as volunteers to their community.
Mr. Seloma Tiro: Chairperson
Ms. Oipokile Gaokwale: Vice Chairperson
Ms. Bokani Mothebe: Secretary
Ms. Martha Ramaditse: Treasurer
Additional members: 2 additional members
Mr. Gaobalone James a local youth leader
Ms. Baiteredi Diteko from Ntwakgolo Support group
Additional founding members without voting privileges:
Jon Rawlinson, webmaster of www.natavillage.org
Melody Jenkins, U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer, 2005-2008
NON PROFIT STATUS OF NATA AIDS AND OPRHANS TRUST
The Nata AIDS and Orphans Trust is a registered Trust (not for profit organization).
Registration Number: FT MA 1/2007
Registered: January 4, 2007
Place: Deeds Office of Botswana in Francistown, Botswana
Note: Donors may request a receipt from us for tax purposes. Contact us at the email address below.
Every cent of every donation goes directly to the people of Nata. Everyone involved in this project is working on a voluntary basis.
You can email us at: natavillage [AT] gmail.com.
Pedro Martinez, current blogger and technical advisor
Seloma Tiro, co-founder and Chairman, Nata AIDS and Orphans Trust
Jon Rawlinson, co-founder and website administrator
Melody Jenkins, co-founder and former blogger March 2006 - June 2008