Walvis Bay — Coastal volunteers of the faith-based organisation the Catholic Aids Action say the continuation of their hard work will greatly depend on the government, since their main donor the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) recently announced a phased withdrawal of funding.
The USAID indicated it would rather fund government programmes. Lorenz Hembapu, the regional manager of the central region for the USAID-supported Catholic Aids Action (CAA) on Wednesday told volunteers at Walvis Bay that their main donor USAID will now disburse funds through government, which will in turn identify programmes for funding that need urgent attention throughout the regions.
This latest measure was taken after Namibia's status was reclassified to that of an upper income country by the World Bank, despite the visible gap between rich and poor.
Another factor that contributed to the USAID decision are reports that indicated that the incidence of HIV/Aids has stabilised in Namibia.
However, Hembapu noted that the donor agency will renew their contract again but that the funding will be much less when compared to the previous years.
At least 660 clients or persons infected by the virus and 850 orphans and vulnerable children are currently registered with CAA in the Erongo Region.
Apart from having a fulltime job, the volunteers still make time to conduct home visits to their registered clients in the community to provide emotional-spiritual support, provide health education and carry out advocacy work on positive-living lifestyles.
The CAA activities in the central region are intended to enhance community outreach and resilience, to raise awareness and to reduce stigma through individual and group interactions.
The charity also supports orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) through psycho-social, nutritional, educational and income-generation services.
During a visit to the CAA, one of the volunteers, Martha Muatunga, who has dedicated a decade of her life to volunteerism, explained that the drastic USAID action will not discourage them from caring for those in need. She said that volunteer work is more than just taking care of HIV patients or clients.
"It's about motivating them and trying to make them understand why it is worthwhile to fight for a better future.
"We saved many souls, motivated them and gave self-esteem to orphans. We can proudly say that they have become educated men and women who are now also dedicated to the cause of humanity," said Muatunga.
The CAA was founded in 1998 as the first faith-based organisation to respond to the HIV and AIDS pandemic under the auspices of the Namibian Catholic Bishops' Conference.
The CAA was founded by Dr Lucy Steinitz and Sr Handler.
In the Erongo Region, the CAA has at least 180 volunteers who are trained in Home Based Care and Child Care Services.
These volunteers are based all over the region in different volunteer groups.
Walvis Bay has five volunteer groups, which serve the communities of Kuisebmund, Narraville and Tutaleni. Two volunteer groups operate in Swakopmund, while Henties Bay, Arandis, Usakos, Karibib, Omajete, Otjimbingwe, Okhombahe, Spitzkoppe and Utuseb are severed by one volunteer group each.