Namibia: Street Kids Graduate in Katutura

Eleven youth living on the streets on Friday received certificates for bricklaying and plastering, which are part of the level one programme of the Katutura Youth Enterprise Centre.

They got the certificates from the centre at a ceremony at the Etegameno Rehabilitation Centre outside Windhoek.

They underwent a two-week training facilitated by the gender ministry in collaboration with the centre as part of efforts to help them integrate into society and leave behind the street life.

According to the centre director, Nelson Prada, the institution has an agreement with the ministry to help street kids in rehabilitating and assisting them in gaining vocational skills as most of them are beyond the age of going to school, while some only completed primary of education. Prada said they only trained the boys on some parts of level one, a programme which was designed for them only and they could not go further as other modules will require more theory.

They will, however, keep training them on different levels that can help them secure employment.

The ministry's deputy director of child welfare services, Lydia Shikongo said they would assist the boys until they reach adulthood to help them become productive citizens.

"These children are living on the streets because they have no access to basic services. Some are here because they were neglected; family breakdown and the street make them vulnerable to harsh conditions," said Shikongo.

Maggy Katimba, the head of an after-school centre in Grysblok, Katutura, where the boys started with their rehabilitation programme, said most of them are originally from Gobabis and Aminuis and some of their parents are farmworkers who also sometimes encourage them to go to Windhoek and beg for money.

She thus urged the public to stop giving them money as it encourages them to continue living on the streets.

She further said some of the boys have admitted to inhaling using drugs and drinking alcohol, noting that the youngest is 11 while the oldest is 19 years old.

"I thank these boys for their commitment to stay at the rehabilitation centre and staying drug-free; they have been sober for two weeks now, and it is something which is not easy for them," said Katimba.

- Nampa

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