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.
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!
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.
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!!!
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: firstname.lastname@example.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.
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.’