New Era (Windhoek)

Namibia: Tanzanian Women Assist Local Orphanage

Windhoek — Orphans of varying ages who live at Megameno Orphanage in Shandumbala, Katutura will have a reason to smile for a while after the Tanzania Women's Group in Windhoek paid them a surprise visit over the weekend.

Twenty-two children who are being taken care of by 'meme' Maria Shalukeni could hardly believe their eyes when a convoy of vehicles pulled up at their gate late Sunday afternoon and Chiku Mnubi Mchombu, the chairperson of the Tanzania Women's Group in Windhoek, led approximately 15 of her members into the orphanage.

Mrs Mchombu told an equally and pleasantly surprised Shalukeni that the Tanzania Women's Group in Windhoek is an association of women whose spouses are employed in Namibia. She explained the group was set up on June 4, 2011, with 18 members, many of them entrepreneurs, to enable Tanzanian women to help each other.

The group assists its members in the event of sickness, bereavement or a major celebration, among others. As part of efforts to show appreciation to the community that hosts them, the Tanzania Women's Group recently decided to identify needy Namibians they could assist. Mchombu explained that after hearing about the orphanage, she and her group made the decision to buy some goods for it.

The purpose of the Sunday visit was to deliver substantial quantities of groceries that included cooking oil, macaroni, sugar, fish, tinned beef, rice, maize meal, clothes, blankets, tea, cake flour, soap and washing powder.

Shalukeni thanked Mchombu and her colleagues for their kind gesture and said the things that they donated to the orphanage would go a long way in helping her look after the orphans, 12 of whom are girls.

She said the orphanage, which was set up in 2003 with five children, receives very little support from government and relies heavily on well-wishers like Mchombu's group. She revealed that she struggles to pay the fees of the children that are attending various schools in Windhoek, plus their transportation to and from the schools, and to buy them clothes and food.

The Tanzanian women spent about an hour interacting with the children, praying with them and generally encouraging them to work hard at school, also assuring them that with dedication and discipline, they will make it in life.

The donated items were raised at a dinner dance and fundraising function held in Windhoek. The fundraising function attracted prominent Tanzanians and their friends from other countries.

Anne Thandeka Gebhardt, a prominent businesswoman and president of the House of Women (HoW), who is also president of the Namibian Employers Association, was the guest speaker.

She encouraged all women to strive for self-actualisation. She explained that men and women were created equal but different. She encouraged women to cherish their status as women.

Quoting Soukeyn Ndiaye Ba, president of the Women's Development Enterprise in Africa, a Dhakar-based NGO, Gebhardt said whoever wishes to develop Africa, must develop the leadership of African women.

She said Africa has no shortage of women leaders. All they lack are training and the wherewithal. "This means that increasing your skills and capacity will go a long way in helping you to develop your leadership roles. You will have to go further, despite your hardships and challenges, to rise above social decline, wars, conflicts, illiteracy. Many of our younger sisters and daughters are not as strong. They are less informed and therefore more prone to sexual abuse and other violations of their innocence," she told guests at the dinner dance.

Gebhardt encouraged African women to do their best to ensure that their children get a sound education and a healthy childhood. She said African women are expected to play many roles which include being spiritual leaders, independent human beings, wives, partners, mothers, entrepreneurs, professionals, grandmothers, aunties, daughters and sisters.

Quoting from Zimbabwean writer Tsitsi Dangarembga's famous book 'Nervous Conditions,' Gebhardt said: "This business of womanhood is a heavy burden... how could it not be? Aren't we the ones who bear children? When it is like that, you can't just decide today I want to do this, tomorrow I want to do this, the next day I want to be educated! When there are sacrifices to be made, you are the ones who have to make them. These things are not easy; you have to start learning them early, from a very early age..."

Moreover, she encouraged women to take good care of themselves physically and emotionally and said women who become complacent after they marry as well as neglect basic things such as bathing properly and keeping their bodies in good shape, will head for domestic problems.

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