Windhoek — A group of high school children are preparing for a potentially life-changing two weeks at a special camp designed to raise their aspirations.
Around 40 learners from JA Nel Senior Secondary School in Keetmanshoop have been handpicked for the intensive 'UniCamp' organised by Wales Cardiff University and the University of Namibia. They will devise and launch a national public health campaign towards the end of the camp using the skills and knowledge acquired.
Student 'ambassadors' from Cardiff and Unam will support and mentor learners at the UniCamp, which runs from mid-August to September 1 at the Unam southern campus in Keetmanshoop.
Workshops, activities, games and sports will be used to improve the self-esteem, communications skills and literacy of those taking part.
Organisers hope the experience will be transformative for the learners with some progressing to university.
The initiative is part of Cardiff University's Phoenix Project, a partnership with Unam to improve health and reduce poverty in Namibia.
JA Nel School head teacher Elizabeth Beukes says: "Our kids come from very poor backgrounds. Sometimes their self-esteem is not there - they don't know where they are heading to.
"It's our duty as a school to try to guide the learners into a direction where they know they are going to have a future.
"In regard to the Phoenix Project, I'm very excited. I believe it's already boosted our kids because we're connected now to a project."
Beukes adds that many of the learners live at the school's hostel because they are from the north of the country or rural areas many kilometres from Keetmanshoop.
The learners will participate in four main subject areas: healthcare, computer science, journalism & media, and business & entrepreneurship.
They will work with the student ambassadors and be expected to launch a public heart health campaign for Namibia towards the end of the two weeks.
The UniCamp will be led by Cardiff University's head of Widening Participation and Community Outreach, Scott McKenzie, and will involve up to 10 students each from Cardiff and Unam.
Scott said: "We will use the overarching theme to deliver workshops and academic content.
"In addition to this, we will offer activities, games and sports to help develop the confidence, self-esteem, communication skills and literacy of the learners.
"We hope the programme might encourage some of the learners to progress to university."
The UniCamp will also be a valuable experience for the students from Cardiff University and Unam who are delivering the programme. The Phoenix Project is part of Cardiff University's Transforming Communities initiative to boost health, wealth and well-being in communities around Wales and further afield.