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Foibe Silvanus – Challenging Herself Up The Mountain

This story was first published in Walk a Mile in My Shoes in 2011.  Since then Foibe has almost finished her classes for her Community Development degree.  She continues to be one of the key players, along with Abigail Bachopi, the Director of Family of Hope Services, in developing a child protection program in Katutura, in partnership with the Finnish Embassy in Namibia through the Finnish Fund for Local Cooperation.  In addition to these jobs, she still works closely with child sponsorship and child care at Family of Hope Services.

Foibe Silvanus as the Master of Ceremonies for the 25th Anniversary of the Day of the African Child at Family of Hope Services. The event was sponsored by the European Union and Terre des Hommes Italia.

A Turning Point in Life

When Foibe Silvanus was 19 years old, in 2001, she spent over a month in hospital in Windhoek, far from her family, awaiting the test results on her knee. When the results finally came back from South Africa, she was told she would either need a knee replacement or they would have to amputate her leg. Her family did not have the applicable medical aid for a knee replacement and being overwhelmed with her situation, Foibe asked to be discharged and went home to her family in Oniipa in northern Namibia. For many months she was suicidal. She didn’t eat. She isolated herself trying to decide what to do. After finally realizing all that her mother truly did for her, Foibe knew she could not abandon her mother so she decided suicide was not an option. From that moment on, Foibe chose to have faith that whatever destiny befalls her with her leg, it is what is meant to be.

Now, at the age of 29, Foibe says she only thinks about her leg (which she did not have operated on nor amputated) when the weather turns damp or after she’s had to walk for a long distance. The situation helps her to see every day as a blessing. And that’s pretty well how Foibe views all the challenges that have beset her in her life.

Foibe in 2011.

Nekwa lyastima oyenga nyoko ooyina yaantu ihalililwa

Foibe is no stranger to long, hard days of work, to living with very little money, and to dealing with crisis and humiliation. She is the second oldest child in a family of three where the only source of income was from the sale of baskets her mother would weave and the sale of the large containers for mahangu (pearl millet) that her father wove. Foibe’s days used to start at 3:00 a.m. when she’d get up to walk for one hour to fetch water with her brother. They each carried 25 litre containers full of water. When they arrived back home at 5:00 a.m. Foibe would need to bathe and get ready for school. Often she only had oshikundu to drink (a beverage made with a pearl millet called mahangu, and a bit of sugar) for breakfast, and then Foibe would set out to walk 3 kilometres to school in her bare feet. She said her school books were heavy and often tore her shirt as the plastic of the bag that held them would cut into her shoulder. She was teased relentlessly because of their poverty and was often told she was ugly and dirty. As a result, Foibe focused on achieving well in school and decided not to care whether she had friends. Her mother was such a strong and loving person who taught Foibe never to compare herself to others and this is what helped Foibe pull through. Her mother used to tell her, “Nekwa lyastima oyenga nyoko ooyina yaantu ihalililwa,” which means, “Don’t look at others who have more and you have so little. Be proud of what you have.”

Foibe in 2009, at a fully sponsored leadership workshop for Family of Hope Services, in the Kalahari desert.

Finishing School

When Foibe returned home from school, she would have to pound mahangu for hours to make flour to feed her family. She would study late in the evenings by candle light.

School fees were not so high in those days but nonetheless Foibe’s mother often paid in installments by giving a chicken or firewood to the school. This is how Foibe and her siblings managed to all obtain their grade 12. Foibe’s dream was to become a nurse, or a doctor, or a social worker. She decided early on in her life that she wanted to help others.

Foibe’s final two years of high school, grades 11 and 12, were very difficult because she had to live away from home in a hostel. She was constantly beaten up by two boys who taunted her at every opportunity. As a result, Foibe’s marks dropped significantly because she used to rush through exams and classes so she could escape back to her room before the boys could catch her. Even so, Foibe graduated from high school at the age of 16.

When she finished she was disappointed with her marks so she got financial help from her older brother who was working, and from her mother with her basket sales, to go to NAMCOL (Namibian College of Open Learning) for biology and physical science. Foibe finished these additional classes by the time she was 18 years old and took a year off to work the mahangu fields.

Foibe facilitating a workshop with community leaders. The workshop is designed to teach people about child abuse, how to spot it, and what to do.

Finding Her Path

Then came the situation with her leg and her ensuing depression. And once Foibe decided not to give in to her problems, she moved back to Windhoek to live with her uncle and to help him in his home. Being used to working without a break, Foibe was soon very bored. She applied for and obtained her first job which didn’t last long because her manager sexually harassed her and Foibe quit. After that she went to work for Ramatex, a large textile manufacturer which opened its doors in Namibia with a promise of jobs. Foibe was paid N$350 per month in 2004. She also didn’t stay long with Ramatex because her heart was really in helping others. She saw an ad for a workshop on Home-Based Care and counseling and so Foibe signed up. This is how she met one of the co-Founders of FHS, Ms. Jeniphar Gatsi Mallet, and how Foibe finally arrived at the cross-roads in her life that set her on the path she is meant to be on. Foibe began helping at FHS by providing translation for women in the HIV program, then she started teaching in the youth and school readiness programs. She progressed quickly to becoming the FHS School Readiness Supervisor, then on to become the Centre Administrator, and from there to the Community Liaison Officer. Now Foibe is the Programmes Coordinator for FHS, a role she’s held for two years.

Her Mentors – Jenifphar Gatsi Mallet and Abigail Bachopi

Foibe says that Jeniphar Gatsi Mallet and Abigail Bachopi, the other co-founder of FHS, are very similar people and they both taught her a great deal in her life and are role models who groomed Foibe. “They saw my potential and wanted to lift me up to discover myself. They are non-judgmental and dedicated to empowering others to achieve their dreams; they help me to believe in myself.”

We All Have Gifts That We Should Use

Foibe is climbing her mountain to attain her dream. She will complete her community development diploma at the Namibian College of Open Learning (NAMCOL) at the end of 2011, and she will enter a Community Development degree program through the University of Namibia in 2012. Foibe is also certified to counsel for HIV/ AIDS. Her brother and sisters are all working now so they help Foibe pay for her studies. Despite her incredible workload with a full-time job and her studies, Foibe is also a single mother to a beautiful five- year-old daughter.

“I want my daughter to grow up to believe in herself, to work hard, to respect others, to be assertive and to be proud,” Foibe tells me. “I want her to live by the values and principles I’ve instilled within her and I want her not to look to men to better her life. Like I was taught, I want her to be proud of what she has.”

Foibe believes we all have gifts and that we should use them.

“I’ve learned to use what little I have wisely and not to feel sorry for myself,” says Foibe. Problems become an opportunity to mature, and to learn to value what I have. I avoid bad friends and people who are negative. I believe in myself and I live by the values and principles I was taught. This keeps me focused in my life.”

Foibe in discussion with Thomas Presby (left) and William Shutzer (holding FHS child, Ndali), both are Directors with Tiffany & Co. The Tiffany & Co. Board visited the FHS centre in April, 2011, as part of their exploration of the needs in the communities where they do business.

Foibe with Danette Jaeb (left), the author of this story and the book Walk a Mile in My Shoes. The book is a fundraiser for Family of Hope Services. It conveys stories of children, women and men who live in poverty in Katutura, and who are part of the Family of Hope network.

The Challenges Foibe Sees Women Facing

“As a woman you are expected to bear children. You have to give your family grandchildren. Because many women are illiterate they don’t know their right to contraceptives or abstinence.”

“Culturally men are supposed to support the women and the women are supposed to stay home and care for their husbands and the rest of the family. This makes a woman vulnerable. As head of the house, the man makes all of the decisions and the wife must listen to him.”

“Women have to work very hard in the mahangu fields and in making food. And then they must have a big heart as well since their husband’s family will also live with them.”

Foibe’s Typical Day:

4:00 a.m.

– Wake up
– Shower
– Prepare her daughter’s lunch box for school
– Wake up her daughter
– Bathe her daughter
– Make breakfast and eat with her daughter
– Hail a taxi and take her daughter to kindergarten

8:00 a.m.

– Begin her day at Family of Hope – Meet with guests, volunteers, community members, guardians, government administrators, sponsors, and donors

– Develop programming for youth club, leadership workshop, discussion groups, and fun days
– Maintain and update database on sponsored children and donations – Organize sponsored items

5:00 p.m.

– Hail a taxi and pick up daughter – Go home and prepare dinner
– Clean up
– Put daughter to bed

– Study until midnight

Midnight

– Go to sleep

Foibe shaking hands with the Honourable Martin David, Councilor for the Moses Garoeb Constituency in Katutura. Councilor Martin is an invaluable partner in the community and supports Family of Hope Services.

United Nations Development Programme donates Blankets and Food

On the 18 July, on Mandela Day, the United Nations Development Programme ( UNDP )  donated blankets and food to Family of Hope Services to our families with the greatest needs.  We are deeply grateful.
The nights are long and cold and many people in Katutura have no means to keep warm.  The air chills a person to the bone and the kids shiver and are unable to sleep.  We notice when the children come to the centre for school in the morning, many of them want to stay outside in the sunshine to try to warm up.
Food is always greatly needed.  Many kids are lucky to eat one meal a day.
The donations were collected by staff members.

Staff at United Nations Development Programme in Namibia.

The fortunate recipients of the generous donations from the United Nations Development Programme.

Matitis Safaris Helps Out Again

A huge THANK YOU  to Matiti Safaris for the fantastic day at the Family of Hope Services Centre in Katutura.  Matiti Safaris Cc treated more than 650 of us, along with 150 caregivers from the community, to hearty and delicious food, warm blankets and clothing. We are deeply grateful for their support. Theirstaff are so thoughtful, kind, and respectful. A BIG shout out to Matiti Safaris, for always giving back!

 

 

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Huis Maerua Children’s Home Donates Toys to Our Toy Library

A local charity in Windhoek, Huis Maerua Children’s Home, has donated surplus toys received from their donors to support our Katutura toy library.  Our toy library has been in operation for two years now and it is making a big difference for the children we support.  Many studies demonstrate that play is very important for children which is why in 2015 we set up a toy library with the sponsorship and support from both National Early Childhood Development (NECD) in Windhoek, and Terre des hommes Germany.

Toys donated by Huis Maeura

A special thank you to Christine van der Vyver and Johne Marais, a social worker from House Maerua, for keeping us in mind for the toy donation.  We are grateful for their help.
Many people don’t realize that play allows a child to learn and discover, and to be free to be who they are at that moment in time.  Play can also ease the level of anxiety many children living in challenging conditions experience when they don’t feel whole or intact. This is important for our children.  Our staff also help the children’s caregivers to understand the importance of play for healthy child development, so the learning continues in their home environment.

Our toy library at our centre in Katutura. Family of Hope Services

Our toy library at Family of Hope Services in Katutura

The toys where delivered to us by students from the Potchefstroom University in South Africa, who are participating in a community outreach activity hosted annually by Huis Maerua Children’s Home. This year Huis Maerua choose us for their outreach activity and provided toys for our toy library.  The students they are hosting spent an afternoon with our children, playing educational games, feeding the children and providing welcome treats in the form of sweets and cookies.

Volunteers with Huis Maeura delivering the toys to our children at Family of Hope Services

We have a special relationship with Huis Maerua Children’s Home and appreciate their support.  We often refer children and adults in need to them when we are unable to help, and they send two social workers to our centre once a week to offer counseling to our children and caregivers.
Huis Maerua Children Children cares for children who suffer due to neglect, abandonment, poverty, abuse or social unacceptable living conditions. They support children in all aspects of their lives: housing, food, clothing, school, transport, camping, social activities and medical care including therapy. They strive to give children the best upbringing and they are lovingly nurtured back to emotional and physical health.
Like our page please and head over to Huis Maerua’s Facebook page as well so you can keep up to date on what we’re doing in the community.

Do You Know Who Helps Keep Us Safe in Our Community?

During the holiday season our anxiety about security increases because it is known that the criminals are more active at this time of year.  Although, having said that, most of us have to be cautious at all times of the year.  Family of Hope Services, for instance, was robbed three times in 2015 — once in February when they stole all of our food, school uniforms, computer equipment, cooking gas and furniture not to mention the cost of replacing the doors they broke; again in August when they stole a computer and the food; and then again two weeks ago when 14 chairs were taken from our centre in Havana.  You have to ask yourself what kind of people steal from children who have nothing, and from a charity that works on a shoe string with donated equipment?  Yet we are fortunate to have a donor who recently paid for a good alarm system and cameras throughout our property so that the criminals will be caught next time they try to break-in.  But that doesn’t solve the problem of crime that touches everyone here.  So what do we do in Katutura?

Johannes David, who is the President of the Women and Men’s Network in Katutura, believes it is incumbent upon all of us to work together to tackle the situation.  Johannes said that people complain about the police not helping them, yet the police can’t see what is going on everywhere in Katutura and so the community needs to fight crime together with the police.  That is the premise behind the Women and Men’s Network which was established in 2012 through the Moses Garoeb Constituency Office of Councillor David Martin, and under the direction of Police Warrant-Officer Christine Fonsech who successfully launched a similar approach in the north.

Providing security and crowd control during birth registration at our centre in Havana.

Providing security and crowd control during birth registration at our centre in Havana.

How Does it Work?

The Women and Men’s Network is made up entirely of community volunteers who are committed to making our neighbourhoods safer places to live.  Each volunteer is given training to ensure they are clear on what they can and cannot do; how to respond to various situations; and that they always work within the law.  Each member is signed up through their local Branch office and responds accordingly.

There are a number of ways in which members serve.  The first way is when the police request their presence and support.  For example, the police might want to monitor an area at month end and so they will contact Johannes David and ask if, for example, 40 people can patrol a certain area between specific hours.  Johannes then calls the commander under him who is responsible for the Branch where the area is located, and the commander will send out an SMS to mobilize the volunteer members from his Branch.  The members go to their nearest police office and book in before they go on patrol, and they book out once they are finished with the patrol.  If members see a situation, they report it immediately.  If it is something they can solve on their own they will explain the situation and act according to direction given.  On occasion they can resolve disputes and prevent fights simply by mediating.  But they do not act if there is any possible violence.  The police are called in immediately and the member monitors the situation until the police arrive.

Another way in which members are mobilized is when people from the community call them for help.   Again they book in and out at the nearest police station.  They can be called to address a wide range of issues including fights, domestic violence, theft, medical emergencies, neighbour disputes, water problems with local taps, okambashu fires, and the list goes on.

Members on duty.

Members on duty.

When members are called to react to an emergency they don’t have time to book in at the police station so they are encouraged to carry a small notebook and they write down the details for booking in after they’ve responded to the situation.  All members are trained to obey the law themselves and to act only when permitted.

Other ways in which members help include working with organizations such as ours.  Family of Hope Services has received support from the Women and Men’s Network on a number of occasions.  They provided security and crowd control when we worked with Home Affairs to sign up thousands of people in the Moses Garoeb Constituency for birth registration.  They have also helped us organize and manage children when we have events or celebrations where hundreds of children are invited.

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Women from the Women and Men’s Network volunteering at Family of Hope Services to organize and manage children from their various branches who were celebrating a fun day hosted by Matiti Safaris.

How Many Members Are There?

Johannes David said that when the Network was first launched they had over 5,500 people sign up.  Since then approximately 1,500 have dropped out, mostly because they thought they would be paid for the work or that they would get a job as a result of it.  To date there are 4,000 active volunteers working with the Women and Men’s network in Katutura to make a real difference in our community.  And they do!  They solve a lot of disputes and break up fights and generally keep our community much safer than it used to be.

So what does it take to head up such an organization?

This is a community effort and in addition to the 4,000 members who patrol the streets and help to fight crime, the Branch commanders and Johannes David himself work tirelessly to coordinate and respond to the never-ending requests.  Johannes, works full-time for the City of Windhoek as an Electrical Assistant and while he is given some leeway at his job because of the demands of his important volunteer work, he finds himself living his life with very little sleep.  In addition to his work with the City, Johannes is also an elected Community Leader within his Branch responding to a myriad of requests within his area; a member of Councilor David Martin’s Community Development Committee working to build and improve the local infrastructure and services; and a SWAPO leader.  In his position as President of the Women and Men’s Network he is involved in all of the planning and strategic meetings plus he fields upwards of 10 to 40 calls a night to mobilize Member call-outs.  Each call-out requires his monitoring and follow-up with the police.  This is a selfless job and one that only someone who feels compelled to help our brothers and sisters live in a better world, is capable of doing.  Johannes sees this as his calling.  He grew up with the brave men and women fighting for human rights for the Namibian nation, and this has motivated him to commit himself to the continued development of the country.   His reward is seeing crime go down and things improving and he gains his energy from the the gratitude and appreciation of all of his constituents.

Johannes David, with his wife Foibe who supports him in his commitment to the community.

Johannes David, with his wife Foibe who supports him in his commitment to the community.

How Can You Get Involved?

If you want to join the Women and Men’s Network and help fight crime in our community, please contact your local Branch leader.  You can fill out a form and get the ball rolling from there.

A HUGE Thank You From Us!

In this festive season where we focus on giving to each other, Family of Hope Services would like to thank Johannes David and all of the members of the Women and Men’s Network who give tirelessly of themselves to make our communities better places for all of us to live.  We’d also like to thank Moses Garoeb Councilor David Martin and Police Warrant-Officer Christine Fonsech for getting this initiative underway; the police officers with the City Police and NAMPOL who risk their lives for us on a daily basis; and to all of the reservists who volunteer their time as well to protect our families and friends.

 

Johannes David, President of the Men and Women's Network in Katutura, Namibia

Johannes David, President of the Women and Men’s Network in Katutura, Namibia, at the Family of Hope Services Centre in Havana, Katutura.

Running Water and Flush Toilets! Thank You BVBA Tuybens!

Could you feed and care for more than 260 children every day without running water and flush toilets?  Believe it or not we have managed to work without these simple necessities for more than a year.  But now, thanks to Peter Tuybens who is the owner of BVBA Tuybens in Belgium, we will soon have water for our kitchen and bathrooms as well as a hook up to the city of Windhoek sewer lines in Katutura.  Peter Tuybens donated N$10,000 which will enable us to pay for the majority of the costs the city will charge us for these services.

This is not the first generous donation Mr. Tuybens has made to Family of Hope Services.  In 2011 he and a group of running buddies, the Duvel Joggers, donated more than N$10,000 towards sponsoring three children for education and to providing basic needs to children at the Family of Hope Services centre.  We are very grateful for the thoughtfulness and kindness of these donors who make our work at Family of Hope Services possible.

BVBA Belgium is a Human Resources Consultancy firm located outside of Brussels.  Peter Tuybens is a coaching expert with more than 30 years of experience in helping International and Belgium businesses to develop the capabilities of their high-potential performers as well as their top executives.

From everyone at Family of Hope Services, thank you Mr. Tuybens!!!

Cooking at the Centre without running water.

Cooking at the Centre without running water.

The toilets at the Centre. There is currently one pit latrine in use but the flush toilet stalls will soon be hooked up.

Abigail Bachopi and Peter Tuybens looking at the toilets at the Centre. There is currently one pit latrine in use but the flush toilet stalls will soon be hooked up.

Abigail Bachopi, Founder and Director of Family of Hope Services, with Peter Tuybens, owner of BVBA Tuybens, a successful Human Resources, Coaching company based in Belgium.

Abigail Bachopi, Founder and Director of Family of Hope Services, with Peter Tuybens, owner of BVBA Tuybens, a successful Human Resources, Coaching company based in Belgium.

Can Child’s Play Change a Life?

Most children grow up with toys, including cuddly animals and rattles of various types, and they progress to more complex toys that challenge their motor skills and imagination.  But what if you live in poverty and you don’t even have a warm blanket at night or daily food?  Do toys matter when your basic needs are not met?

According to many world experts, toys and therapeutic play can make a big impact in the lives of vulnerable children because these kids often become disabled by their circumstances.  Namibia’s Meke Imbili will tell you a child’s well-being improves when they are busy and active through play.  Meke is the Coordinator for National Early Childhood Development (NECD) in Windhoek, and someone who has seen firsthand the difference play can make.  Meke and her colleagues, Magnaem Haufiku and Batseba Elago, recently launched a toy lending library at Family of Hope Services in Havana, Katutura.  This library will provide the means and environment in which marginalized children in the area can play and grow.

“I can assure you that more than half of the children who attend the toy lending library will improve their social interaction and be happier and more creative,” Meke told the group of children, guardians, and community leaders in attendance. “The toys and tools we are providing are designed to support your child’s skill development and imagination, and to cover all stages of growth and development.  You can even make your own toys at home from waste materials and this is something that we encourage you to do in addition to using the library,” said Meke as she held up a paper roll from toilet paper that had been painted and designed for play.

NECD is an association and implementation agency that addresses early childhood development needs in Namibia.  NECD is working on behalf of Terre des hommes German who is the sponsor for the toy lending library project and who is paying for all of the lending libraries in Namibia. NECD will work with Family of Hope Services to implement the project on behalf of TDH Germany.  The toys and games were on display for everyone to see the wide variety of tools that will be available for caregivers to borrow and take home.

According to Sarah Cossa, Namibia’s Project Coordinator with Terre des hommes Germany and the catalyst behind this most recent project at Family of Hope Services, toy lending libraries prove to be very successful in helping children build self-confidence and resilience.  “By coming to the Centre in Havana and participating in play with the coordinators, children will learn how to explore and problem-solve.  They will learn how to actively engage and to better understand their inner selves which is important in building self-confidence,” Sarah said.  “Play allows a child to explore and discover and to be free to be who they are at that moment in time.  It can ease the level of anxiety we experience when we don’t feel whole or intact.”

Abigail Bachopi, the Founder and Director of Family of Hope Services, noted that the staff of the Centre have been trained to facilitate the learning of children coming to the toy lending library to play, and to help caregivers learn how to stimulate their child’s development when they take the toys home.  Abigail and her staff will also work with the children’s caregivers and the local community to help promote the importance of play in healthy child development within the area.

The toy lending library at Family of Hope Services in Havana, Katututa, is one of six libraries being established by NECD and Terre des hommes Germany within Namibia.  The other libraries are located in Grysblok, Oponganda Community Centre,  two in the Oshikoto region, one in Khorixas and one in Outjo.

Toys can be borrowed from the library and taken home for a short time. Staff will give advice to the caregivers on how to get the maximum benefit from the use of the toys.  The toys are borrowed and returned to the library in the same way that books are borrowed and returned in conventional libraries.  The toys are sterilized in between use.

If you have any toys, stuffed animals, board games, books and other learning tools, we would be grateful for the donation at the Family of Hope Services centre to add to this new toy lending library.

For more information please email:  director@familyofhopeservices.org

For our partner contacts and information:

Terre des hommes Germany:  http://www.tdh-southern-africa.org

Contact information for the National Early Childhood Development NGO:  Mrs. Batseba L.V. Elago, Administrative Secretary, 061 247423.

Ms. Meke Imbili, Coordinator for National Early Childhood Development (NECD), launching the Toy Lending Library at Family of Hope Services. Ms. Imbili explains to the audience how they can make their own children toys at home, too.

Ms. Foibe Silvanus, Community Development Officer with Family of Hope Services, Ms. Meke Imbili, Coordinator for NECD, and ????

Ms. Foibe Silvanus, Community Development Officer with Family of Hope Services, Ms. Meke Imbili, Coordinator for NECD, Mrs. Magnaem Haufiku, NECD Coordinator, and Ana Paulo, Education Coordinator with Family of Hope Services.

Honourable Martin David, Councilor for the Moses Garoeb Constituency, welcomes the guests.

Honourable Martin David, Councilor for the Moses Garoeb Constituency, welcomes the guests.

dancers

Family of Hope Services Traditional Dancers

One of the many games available at the library.

One of the many games available at the library.

Batseba Elago and Meke Imbili with NECD.

Batseba Elago and Meke Imbili with NECD.

Magnaem Haufiku

Magnaem Haufiku and Meke Imbili with NECD.

More toys available at the library.

More toys available at the library.

Matiti Safaris Feeds and Entertains More Than 500 Children in Katutura

Matiti Safaris staff preparing the meal at the start of the event to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Day of the African Child.

Matiti Safaris staff preparing the meal at the start of the event to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Day of the African Child.

The staff and family at Matiti Safaris worked incredibly hard to ensure more than 500 children from Havana and Hakahana in Katutura were treated to an unforgettable experience to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Day of the African Child.  They organized and managed activities that most of the children have never experienced before.  Kids were treated to finger-painting, a jumping castle, face painting, musical chairs, pop-the-balloon for a prize, and a nourishing thick soup with buttered brotchens.  The care and love the Matiti staff put into making this a special day for the kids in the community was very moving.   All of their employees who were not on safaris took part in the event, including the principals of the company, Bianca Von Lieres and Gwendal Cochet.  Ramona Bowe, who is responsible for Matiti Safaris’ Social Responsibility group, spent the week prior to the event working with her colleagues to make sure everything went off without a hitch!  What a  great day it was!  The kids had a blast!  We are sending our heart-felt gratitude to all of the staff and their families at Matiti Safaris.

For those of you who don’t know Matiti Safaris, they are a well-established inbound tour company in Namibia who can essentially organize anything and everything to do with travel here.  They offer scheduled organized tour departures throughout the year and also tailor make experiences for visitors from all over the world.  Next time you recommend someone to a travel company for their visit in Namibia, please suggest Matiti Safaris.  They believe in giving back to the community and do so out of commitment to the betterment of our country.  Their social responsibility encompasses many activities.  Family of Hope Services is grateful for their support.  www.matitisafaris.com

Copyright Danette Jaeb

From left to right, Ramona Bowe and Rejane De Voss from Matiti Safaris.  Ramona broke her leg a few weeks before the event and she worked tirelessly nonetheless.  This was one of the few moments where she was actually sitting.

Staff and management at Matiti Safaris!

Staff and management at Matiti Safaris!

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Franck Bergeron from Matiti Safaris with one of the boys from the community about to pop a balloon for a prize.

The children had lots of fun and enjoyed the special day.

The children had lots of fun and enjoyed the special day.

?? from Matiti Safaris enjoying herself as she interacts with the children.

Asnat Messag  from Matiti Safaris enjoying herself as she interacts with the children.

Musical chairs.  There were lots of good laughs.

Musical chairs. There were lots of good laughs.

Children lining up to enter the Centre for the activities.  The twenty groups were managed by women in the community from each of the ??? within Moses Garoeb.

Children lining up to enter the Centre for the activities. The twenty groups of children were managed by women in the community from  branches within Moses Garoeb.  The Community Leaders rallied the kindergarten teachers to identify children in need to participate in the event.  Several of the groups were managed by women from the Women and Men Against Crime network.

More face painting by ??? of Matiti Safaris.

More face painting by Carolina Mouton with Matiti Safaris.

The children wore their best clothes for this occasion.  It was a big event for all of them.

The children wore their best clothes for this occasion. It was a big event for all of them.

?? from Matiti Safaris, keeping the fire going under the soup.

Martin Imongwa from Matiti Safaris, keeping the fire going under the soup.

From left to right Ana Paulo, Family of Hope Services; ,Blandine?, Matiti Safaris; Asnat Messag, Matiti Safaris; ???; Rejane De Voss, Matiti Safaris.

Buttering 600 brotchens.  From left to right Ana Paulo, Family of Hope Services; ,Blandine Tourain, Matiti Safaris; Aloisia Aipanda, Matiti Safaris; Tonata (volunteer and friend of Matiti Safaris employee); Rejane De Voss, Matiti Safaris.

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Family of Hope Services Traditional Dancers

Petra Negongo with Matiti Safaris joining ???  with the Family of Hope Services Traditional Dance group.

Asnat Messag with Matiti Safaris joining the Family of Hope Services Traditional Dance group.

Gwendal Cochet and Rejane De Voss getting the soup ready to serve.

Gwendal Cochet and Rejane De Voss getting the soup ready to serve.

Children are enjoying a nourishing meal.

Children enjoying a nourishing meal.

Bianca Von Lieres meeting the children while serving soup.

Bianca Von Lieres meeting the children while serving soup.

What a day!

What a day!

A HUGE thank you to all!!!

A HUGE thank you to all!!!

Staff at Family of Hope Services, chatting with Bianca Von Lieres, after a long day of work for all.  From left to right:  Selma Alugodhi - Peer Promoter and Family Facilitator; Nelondo Nampala - Community Counselor;  Wilka Eliaser - Chief Cook; Ana Paulo - Principal Educator; Abigail Bachopi - Founder and Director; and Bianca Von Lieres - Managing Director, Matiti Safaris.

Staff at Family of Hope Services, chatting with Bianca Von Lieres, after a long day of work for all. From left to right: Selma Alugodhi – Peer Promoter and Family Facilitator; Nelondo Nampala – Community Counselor; Wilka Eliaser – Chief Cook; Ana Paulo – Principal Educator; Abigail Bachopi – Founder and Director; and Bianca Von Lieres – Managing Director, Matiti Safaris.

Did You Know You Need a Ministerial Signature to Get Married Before You’re 18 in Namibia?

Not only do you need the signature from the Minister of Home Affairs and Immigration to get married if you are under 18 years of age, but if you are between the ages of 18 and 21 you need your parents or guardian to sign their consent for you to be married.   This is just one of the laws under the Married Person’s Equality Act to prevent Namibian children from forced marriage and child abuse.  For defying the law, the penalty is a fine of up to N$50,000, or imprisonment that does not exceed 10 years.

To celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Day of the African Child, Family of Hope Services hosted a function sponsored by the European Union and Terre des Hommes Italia, with the Acting Deputy Director of the Child Welfare Division, Ms.Celeste Feris, as Guest Speaker.  Ms. Feris spoke on behalf of the Honourable Doren Siyoka, Minister of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, and identified some of the serious issues facing children in Namibia regarding child marriage.

“We have many unique identities in Namibia that define our cultures and beliefs and who we are,” said Ms. Feris.  “But not all of our cultural practices are good.  Child marriage is not good.  When a child under the age of 18 is given by her caregiver, parent or family to an older person to become his spouse, she doesn’t have a chance in life to play like the children here today. When a child gets married, and it is mostly girls given in marriage, her life changes forever.  She no longer goes to school and she can no longer contribute to the social economy.  She is often subjected to violence and abuse.  And if she gets pregnant, then she is now a child raising another child.  As many as 36% of girls as young as 12 years of age are getting pregnant. This perpetuates a vicious circle of poverty,” said Ms. Feris.

Ms. Feris noted that one of the difficulties in stopping child marriages is that the practice is hidden.  “We are taught that we should respect our elders, and so the community allows children to be promised in marriage. But these are very harmful practices and beliefs.  The Namibian government is putting laws in place under the Child Care and Protection Act to prohibit a child from being subjected to cultural practices in order to prohibit child marriages and abuse.  Combined with the Married Person’s Equality Act, there are several laws in place to protect children.  For example, it is compulsory for children to obtain an education until they are 16 years of age. If a child is under 18 years of age, the Minister of Home Affairs and Immigration must sign the consent for the child to be married.  If people don’t obey the law, we can convict them.  We encourage everyone to report these abuses,” said Feris.  She identified the fine and imprisonment terms for breaking the law.  In conclusion Ms. Feris encouraged the guests and caregivers at the event to go out and to spread the word within our communities.  “We need to SPOT IT and STOP IT,” said Ms. Feris.

The recently enacted Child Care and Protection Act, 3 of 2015(226), underlines that a person may not subject a child to social, cultural and religious practices which are detrimental to his or her well-being.

Furthermore, a person may not give a child out in marriage or engagement if such child does not consent to the marriage or engagement or is below the minimum age for marriage contemplated as in the Marriage Act as well as the Married Person’s Equality Act.

‘No boy or girl under the age of 18 years shall be capable of contracting a valid marriage except with the written permission of the Minister responsible for Home Affairs; and a person below the age of 21 years requires the consent of his or her parent/s or guardian in order to marry. A person who contravenes these subsections commits an offence and is liable on the conviction to a fine not exceeding N$50,000 or imprisonment for a period not exceeding ten years or both such fine and imprisonment.’

“We need to SPOT IT and STOP IT!” Encouragement from Ms. Celest Feris, Acting Deputy Director of the Child Welfare Division, Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, to report child marriages in Namibia.

Copyright Danette Jaeb

Acting Deputy Director of the Child Welfare Division, Ms.Celeste Feris, speaking on behalf of the Honourable Doren Siyoka, Minister of Gender Equality and Child Welfare.

The Day of the African Child is commemorated every June 16 in memory of the hundreds of unarmed children and youth who were killed in Soweto, South Africa, while protesting against their education being conducted in Afrikaans in school.  Twenty five years ago the Member States of the African Union adopted the African Children’s Charter, in memory of this tragic event.  The Charter requires member countries to collaborate on the rights of children on the continent, and to take action and demonstrate what is being done to protect the rights of children within their own countries.  The goal is to remove all obstacles to realizing child rights.  For the 25th Anniversary, the Committee adopted the theme:  Accelerating our Collective Efforts to End Child Marriage in Africa.

Ms. Abigail Bachopi, Founder and Managing Director of Family of Hope Services, addressing guests at the celebration of the Day of the African Child.

Ms. Abigail Bachopi, Founder and Managing Director of Family of Hope Services, addressing guests at the celebration of the Day of the African Child.

 

Children from Family of Hope Services' school program.

Children from Family of Hope Services’ school program.

 

Copyright Danette Jaeb

 

Family of Hope Services Traditional Dance group perform for guests.

Family of Hope Services Traditional Dance group perform for guests.

 

Family of Hope Services' Care Team Dancers perform for guests.

Family of Hope Services’ Care Team Dancers perform for guests.

 

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