Village for Orphans In Botswana Goal of South Florida Group

South Florida businessman Bernhard Schutte travels the world to bring people together for projects, large and small but his latest humanitarian endeavor has the potential to dramatically improve thousands of lives and propel a South African nation into the international spotlight.

Through Digital Media Network, Inc. (DMNI), Schutte and business partner, Thomas Bernthaler have put into motion a plan to build an entire village to provide homes for orphans in the nation of Botswana. Schutte has assembled a team that includes Roy Rogers, considered the "Father  of Weston" now a city in Western Broward County, Ray Ferrero, President of Nova Southeastern University, and Linda Cooke, Director of the Habilitation Center in Boca Raton, just to name a few.

The Republic of Botswana has been an independent nation since 1966 and has gone from being one of the poorest nations in the world to one of the richest non-oil producing countries in Africa. Diamonds can be a country's best friend and Botswana has three diamond mines with exports in the billions of dollars.

From left: Linda Cooke of the Habilitation Center in Boca Raton, Bernhard Schutte, Essie "Big Mama" Reed and Ray Ferrero Jr., President of Nova Southeastern University.

But the other side of the story is that Botswana has lost hundreds of thousands of its people to AIDS and the epidemic has left many more thousands

of children without parents. "Our vision and goal is to set up homes for the orphans of Botswana in a complete village setting with the entire infrastructure necessary," Schutte told the Promenade. "We have already identified a 252 acre site and will be visiting Botswana to begin preparations," he added.

There have been meetings with the World Bank and funding is being lined up for the project. Professionals from all walks of life and volunteers are being recruited to take part in the effort.

This is no small undertaking but Schutte said the government is behind the effort and providing support. Recently His Excellency Lapologang Caesar Lekoa, the Ambassador of Botswana to the

Above, left, Ambassador Lekoa, left talks with host Shabnam Alibhai at her Fort Lauderdale home. At right, Ambassador Lekoa.

United States, met with friends, business partners and supporters of Schutte at a dinner party hosted by Schutte and Shabnam Alibhai at Alibhai's home in Fort Lauderdale.

It is one of things that Schutte does best, bringing together leaders in their professions to work toward a common goal. Among his recent publicized endeavors was a series of trade missions to Malaysia which is already generating new business opportunities. He also worked to bring national focus on the efforts of Essie "Big Mama" Reed to help children in her Northwest Fort Lauderdale neighborhood. As a result, the ÅBC program Extreme Makeover - Home Edition brought in crews to build a community center and broadcast the result.

But why Botswana? Schutte's answer is immediate. "I am from South Africa. It is where I grew up and had so many wonderful experiences. I want to give back to the part of the world from which I came."

Ed. Note: To learn more about DMNI visit their web site at www.dmni.com. There are links to the Malaysian Trade Mission and "Big Mama." Also see www.promenadenews.com.