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The first Botho Arts Festival saw 30 orphans from SOS children’s village as guests of honour for what proved to be amongst one of the most exciting and creative days of their lives! The kids all enjoyed face painting, nail painting, free hugs and even a kids Zumba session with dancing, giggles and laughter punctuating the entire day.

What brought us all the greatest joy was watching children from private, government schools and SOS mingled together and played so beautifully. This is exactly what Botho is about! Coming together in the name of compassion, not about how much money we raised, but by how much compassion we could raise through simply sharing happiness!

Our main event was the half kilometre canvas (a huge 50 meters!) A huge mural on the field that saw all these children come together to paint what compassion means to them, with the sound of music playing in the background! This mural will be rolled-up and now travel around the country with new art added by the children at each of its stop offs until eventually artists from Art of the Soul deliver it back to Gaborone. A beautiful journey or sharing and expression from our youth, with the plan for it to be cut up and framed, with parts given to orphanages, schools, hospitals and the rest to be auctioned for the Masiela Trust.

Just as creatively Young Peace Corps volunteers designed a beautiful Baobab tree out of the containers for HIV Antiviral drugs, representing the treatment for just one month of a small village in Botswana. People wrote messages of love, courage and compassion on the containers. It really was a heartfelt way to remind us to be compassionate to those suffering from HIV/AIDS.

There were volunteers from Kings Fund, Peace Corps, Botho University students (Thanks Slyvia and Priya!), Art of the Soul, and even the PTA parents from different schools came to support the many and fun activities for the children. So many other people deserve thanks and gratitude for making this happen and no words can describe our gratitude – hopefully the smiles on the children’s faces was proof enough of how greatly it was appreciated!

So thank you all!

With absolute love and compassion,

Magdalena Whoolery and each and every Botho Movement member.