8 November 2018

Namibia: Centre Gives Hope to Informal Settlement

Windhoek — In the dusty informal settlement of Goreangab is the Hope for the Hopeless centre which cares for children of that community of urban poor.

The centre, located near the sports field in the informal settlement, has been operating since June. The primary aim of the day care facility is to keep children busy while their parents go out to make a living.

Immanuel Sheefeni, a HIV activist, is its founder.

He said in an interview with New Era recently that he saw the need to assemble the children of Goreangab informal settlement in the makeshift structure because they previously spent most of their time playing on the streets with no education or recreation.

"I live here. I see what is happening here and so I decided to create a suitable environment for these children. If it was not for the centre, the children would just be here in the surroundings, going from bar to bar," he told New Era while the children played joyously in the background.

"Tate Immanuel, I am hungry," one child interrupted our interview. "They will finish cooking now," he replied.

The initiative has won him favour with local businesses that occasionally support the centre with donations ranging from food to toys and books.

During the week, the children mostly eat instant porridge and on weekends when the sponsors buy food, they get to eat rice, vegetables, snacks and other delicacies, explained Sheefeni. Sheefeni has one full-time volunteer who takes care of the children.

"She cooks for the children and also keeps them busy with educational material donated to the centre. We don't have a curriculum because it's not really a school. We just keep the children here to take them off the streets. The children have become friendlier with each other and they interact well together. They like to come here because they know we will feed them and look after them," said Sheefeni.

All of this is at no cost and the centre depends on support to buy food for the children.

Out of the 86 children kept at the centre during the day, the youngest is two years old while the oldest is eight years old.

"We can feel the impact of having the centre here because our children no longer just play anywhere in the area. They play here at the centre which makes them safer and they are also fed here because not all of them always have decent meals at home," said Katrina Petrus, a resident of Goreangab informal settlement.

Simon Andjamba, the executive director of Oluzizi World of Commerce, one of the sponsors, stressed the importance of corporate social responsibility.

"We have seen the need to invest in these children and we know that Sheefeni comes up with brilliant ideas that benefit the community he lives in. These children are the future leaders, we need to invest in them as they are the ones who will work for our companies one day," said Andjamba who sponsored the children with food and goodies.

The centre is open Monday to Saturday. On Sundays there are fewer children.

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