Opuwo — The high number of shebeens drive school-going children to become addicted to the bottle, a habit that leads to a decrease in moral values among families.
Church leaders who spoke to New Era against the backdrop of the commemoration of World Prayer Day in Opuwo said this. The event is a global ecumenical movement that brings Christians of many traditions together to observe a common day of prayer each year.
Following this year's theme, "For the earth will be filled with the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea" - (Habakuk 2:14), participants focused on the role of the family in restoring moral values.
The event brought together people from diverse church denominations and associations including Fill the Gap, Corner Stone, Dutch Reformed Church, Unity Reform Church, OCCC, Church of the Nazareth, Pentecostal, Followers of Christ, First Gospel, Living Water, local government leaders, children and their parents.
According to the clergymen, witchcraft is increasingly common in some communities, especially the Ovahimba who "suffer in silence".
They had noted that some communities resort to witchdoctors if they do not get any hospital cure.
"It is a growing problem. There are so many communities who believe in witchcraft and we need to pray for them on occasions such as this," one of the pastors noted.
In addition, the town proclaimed as the capital of the Kunene Region after independence - Opuwo - is renowned for its drinking habits with taverns opening up early for easy access to the country's favourite pastime, boozing.
Pastor Kalusha Petrus of the Opuwo Community Christian Church (OCCC) said most of the shebeens close during school holidays and reopen again when the school term starts.
"This clearly indicates that the shebeens deliberately target the youth as customers. There is always loud music during school hours and it distracts learners," he said bitterly.
After visiting the town, New Era could confirm that there were indeed a number of shebeens - within walking distance of learners' homes.
"There are too many bars in town and we hope with the police, community leaders, school administrators and church leaders the situation will be addressed," he said.
Each religious community, through its representatives, shared prayers and holy writings with the assembly of different believers affirming the precious value of family as well as the place and role they have for the future of society.
The meeting was a confirmation that the initiative is a powerful way to encourage religious and spiritual individuals and communities to speak out for the welfare of children and mothers.