21 June 2004

Namibia: Khorixas School Sings to the Bank

Windhoek — THANKS to an innovative fundraising project, Versteende Woud Primary School, in the Kunene Region, is earning thousands of dollars for the impoverished school.

Lack of job opportunities at the town has resulted in a high unemployment rate amongst parents, which results in parents failing to pay for their children's school fees.

Estimates indicate that close to 85 percent of Khorixas is unemployed. It has a population of 12 000 residents, with scarce employment opportunities and resources.

But last year, a Peace Corps volunteer from America met with staff members of the school and encouraged them to be creative in order to bring money to the school.

The choir directors then contacted owners of /Gowati Lodge, a luxury accommo-dation establishment at the town to sing for tourists during dinnertime and collect donations.

On November 10, 2003, over 30 learners donned their uniforms, gathered at the lodge during dinnertime, and sang and danced traditional Namibian songs for over an hour. The tourists then donated N$100 to the school but the event became so popular that the lodge owners scheduled more performance dates.

As the choir grew, so did the donations to the school, resulting in one evening a group of tourists from Holland donating N$1 000 to the school.

The efforts of the school have paid off to an extent that for the past six months, the choir has grown from 30 to 80 learners, who have performed a dozen times and earned over N$3 000 for the school.

This week, a group of 20 tourists from Switzerland donated N$650 in one night to the school.

From these proceeds, the school is now able to meet costs incurred from using the Internet, which the learners use for research.

Rebecca Channer, a US Peace Corps Volunteer at the school told New Era the school at first did not have an idea how it was going to pay the bill.

She said the school has also been able throughout the course of the year to do some renovations by fixing broken windows and ceilings, as well as painting the walls of the school.

Versteende Woud School as a result also has a beautiful library, thanks to the donations.

The school is already known in Khorixas for its singing as they came first in the Primary School Vocal Choir Competition two years ago.

Apart from earning money for the school, the project keeps the kids out of drugs and alcohol, as Khorixas has no facilities where the youth can spend their leisure time, especially during the evenings, said Channer.

The kids are divided into two choirs, a senior and junior one. They sing during dinner-time for an hour and either walk or are taken to their homes.

Oftentimes, tourist groups visit the school after performances and donate additional items such as books, clothing and school supplies.

Some of the money is being used to buy new outfits and drums for the choir, as well as materials and supplies for the school.

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