LOCAL LASS GETS RECOGNITION FOR HUMANITARIAN DEEDS IN EUROPE
London: Boikanyo Phenyo is not sophisticated, either by looks or any measurement. She remains the village girl from Maun that she has been, born into the working class family where her father was employed by Debswana in Orapa during her formative years, but nothing extraordinary to write home about.
Maun has been where she joined the rest of her peers to attend public schools until she left Maun senior secondary school for the University of Botswana and graduated with a physical education degree and a post-graduate diploma, which prepared her to teach.
And teaching she did with devotion until the day came for her to escape from the routine, and landed in England.
She has had some knocks and bumps, some too heavy to have dissipated the courage within her, but BK, as she is ondly called by those close to her, is not one to capitulate.
“I look back at the many times I banged my head against the wall and I cherish every moment of it because I would not have grown a thick skin to get to where I am,” she speaks with authority and radiates positive energy.
If you count the truth that BK shook the hand of Her Majesty – the Queen of Great Britain – and that on Tuesday, she received an honourary doctorate and earned the title “Peace Ambassador”, you can appreciate that those falls that happened while she was little under the care of her parents, which carried on once she was in control of her destiny could only have served as impetus for her to soar even higher.
“I was Miss Commonwealth – who else but the Queen to interact with on pronouncement of such a coveted prize? Yes, I shook her hand – the feeling is magical,” she describes and pulls up an electronic image saved on her smartphone.
A few weeks ago on a blessed Sunday, BK flew to Eastern Europe where a graduation ceremony in Albania was held for the few ‘high-flyers’ who have done work that has raised the quality of life of their fellow citizens.
BK is pretty involved in the United Kingdom as one among those who anchor all Botswana activities that bring together citizens in the diaspora to celebrate some of the country’s milestones such as the Independence Day.
Here at home, BK has been putting together resources to build a primary school in the tiny settlement of Sexaxa outside Maun, en route the Moremi Game Reserve because for her; “walking a distance of about 10 kilometres to Matapana in animal-infested bushes is a danger to the daily survival of these little ones. Right now, Sexaxa has a population estimated around 700 and children from there should have their own school,” she emphatically states the point.
Even before the school construction, indeed a mega project could kick off, she managed to raise money last year and purchased a school bus that is used to ferry the children to and from school to circumvent the risks that give her concern. Sexaxa is dear to her heart because that is the origin of her mother.
“My grandfather was the chief of this village many, many years ago. But he had three daughters and after he died, there was a dispute as to who should inherit his seat. As you know our disputes around bogosi back home, the throne shifted from my mother’s lineage to her first cousins, who up to now are clinging to it steadfastly. So Sexaxa for me is where I trace my roots, more so our dad uprooted us from the Boteti area where he originates and we don’t know much about his lineage. I felt I should put to practice the axiom ‘charity begins at home’ by helping children from my own settlement to enjoy safe access to education, which is a right and not a privilege,” she explains further.
The most recent feat, the brainchild of Academy of Universal Global Peace in conjunction with the American Diplomatic Mission Peace and Prosperity was conducted in Tirana, Albania.
To end up here, one must meet set criteria, whereby an individual is nominated by someone who knows their work and can speak about it persuasively to the inter-governmental organisation that enjoys collaboration with the United Nations.
The individual is approached only at the stage where she is to submit her credentials to validate the nomination to the 77-member board of men and women representing different nations.
After a thorough review of submissions, there is a shortlist made before the finalists are announced.
“I thank Bishop Mel originally from Zimbabwe, who runs her church here in the UK. She is the one who nominated me for this award. Among Batswana in Great Britain, I did not have a contest. I flew out to Albania to receive my honourary doctorate on Tuesday the 16th October 2018,” she states, certainly counting her blessings.
Graduation day has come and gone and magnificent photos of BK being capped bear witness to her achievement. Next time you meet her; don’t forget to address her as‘Dr. Boikanyo Phenyo’.
Her facebook page and website princessboikanyo.org are platforms where all her humanitarian work can be viewed, and Good Samaritans wishing to make donations can do so online.
“We received both doctorate degrees and Peace Missionary Honours. The ceremony was co-presided by the Governor Dr, Shefki Hysa and Prof Madhu Krishan. I am humbled indeed. Amazing things are about to happen,” BK elaborates.