Despite the delay, our long-cherished dream to provide our children in the 5-Rand community with the best is becoming reality because of the support of our partners:
Sportive4kids, Nelson Schoenen and Wintermans Foundation. I am so grateful for the support.
Not that long ago, in the beginning of October 2016, I visited Namibia. I went to the projects and spoke to all the project managers, Cecile Thieme our country director and the board of Obnam.
We all agreed we had to put more focus on the projects in order to increase their impact. We created “orange circles”. We drew a symbolic orange circle and in that circle we included our Orange Babies’ objectives; Child Care – care for HIV infected children, care for children who in one way or another are affected by the virus (to provide the information on prevention), and Child Protect (mother-to-child transmission).
The first orange circle was drawn around 5-Rand, the slum of Okahandja. Within this circle we put “our school” with more than 650 children, the programme for HIV-infected pregnant women and babies of HIV-infected mothers and the programme which recently started, focusing on teenagers and adolescents.
We do already support this programme for several years. Every year we set the bar a bit higher. We started with our partner Sportive4kids followed with the support of Nelson Schoenen and Wintermans Foundation. Among the 485 children we support, some children urgently need shelter. These children are selected because they are orphans and/or live in a bad and dangerous environment, or they have been made responsible for their younger brother/sister.
For these children we are building the Orange Babies Home. We are very excited about this plan because it will change these children’s life completely. An enormous step forward. We’re hoping to accommodate the children by June at the latest. Even though the building has been delayed a bit, the 40 selected children already do receive extra care and attention. Outings are being organised to get to know each other, plus they receive extra psychological support and care.
The adolescents programme is already active within the school. Today’s topic is about ‘empowerment’, to strengthen the children. We encounter many teen pregnancies and its negative consequences, an increase in HIV-infections, baby “dumping” and discontinuation of education (they get expelled from school). We also come across young mothers HIV-negative during their first pregnancy but who became HIV-positive afterwards. We have to try to prevent this as much as we can. That’s why our information campaign for schools and the community will be more focused on this age group; actually everywhere within our (virtual) orange circle, in order to reduce the HIV-prevalence.
The next day we visit Otjomuise, a slum on the outskirts of Windhoek and our second virtual circle.
This is a neighbourhood where any support is highly needed; we are very grateful with our partner RES for their support in this project. We visit the Pappa Centre, a pre-school managed by Mari, Rainehilde is responsible for the Ehalelo Koo Meme programme. This is programme is focused on pregnant women and HIV-positive mothers. We also meet Dorothy who is in charge of the afterschool care.
The interaction of our various programmes in this neighbourhood will be improved in order to reduce the HIV prevalence. After our meeting with Mari, Rainehilde and Dorothy, the 3 programme managers, we take a walk through the slum.
At the end of our tour we meet Valerie, one of our patients. Valerie is a beautiful woman, approximately 30 years of age with 3 children. During her third pregnancy she was tested HIV-positive. Her husband had left her and she had no other choice than to move in with her mother with her 7 months old baby Xander. It is extremely hot in the house, made out of zinc panels and just 20m2. The house doesn’t have electricity but they do have a refrigerator. An empty fridge, as there is no money to buy food. Every cent they earn with washing people’s clothes is spent on infant formula for the baby. “How can I take my HIV-medication in a proper way if we often have nothing to eat?” We explain to her how dangerous it is if she doesn’t stick to her therapy, and also the risk for the baby as she occasionally still breast feeds. After a small discussion she agrees to come to our centre as soon as she can to get a better understanding of her situation. We handover a box full of food and leave; I was quiet for a while…. I thought, there is still a lot of work to be done.
Today we decide to visit Hope Village, a former Orange Babies project. We spent the afternoon with the children which we enjoyed very much. They have grown so much. The younger children all go to school, some of the older children entered the university and some have a job, but unfortunately many are unemployed. Overall they look healthy and happy. Of course there is always room for improvement but I chose to reload my mind with the success stories.
Tomorrow we’ll fly to Zambia.