In July 2020 the Trust celebrated twenty years of working with the communities of the Oshandi villages, Ohangwena Region supporting them in the fight against HIV/AIDS, developing educational inks between UK and local schools and encouraging local economic development.
July 2019 was an opportunity to visit, to review progress, and introduce Trustee Ruth Broadhurst
The church and community have benefited from the appointment of Father Samuel-a sub dean at Windhoek Cathedral, a priest of wide experience and energy! We looked forward to meeting him and to his participation in the work of the Trust.
The ten-day visit began with a meeting with the Ondobe Constituency Member - Philomon Hamoto.
He identified the cause of the major economic problems of the area as due to the extended drought, (Government Drought Relief would begin in three weeks' time.) He identified the major social problems as... gender-based violence, alcoholism and RTAs-(due to increasing traffic on the new road system.) Little progress has been made in promoting the Government-Aided Programme to promote small business enterprise
Meeting with Ombome Oto' project leaders and volunteers was helpful in identifying their needs.
Currently 63 volunteers support 300 families' i.e. orphans and people living with HIV/AIDS- More younger volunteers are needed, and the teams feel they need updating in nursing procedures, maintaining client drug compliance, and support for orphans. We contacted the Regional Nursing Officer who has agreed to identify training needs with the volunteers and for the Oshandi Clinic Registered Nurse Sister Hambiya to hold sessions at the clinic.
A second volunteer request was for bags' to carry notes/ deliver medications etc. -visits are often kilometres apart across hostile terrain. An immediate response to show 'goodwill' was for us to buy 63 'rucksacks' from the supermarket - these were very well received!
The next consultation was with Father Samuel and members of the -Parish Management Team to outline the history, and timeline of the project, involvement of the community and church was discussed. There is an obvious lack of communication and cooperation between the two elements. From the discussion a suggestion was made that we develop a Memorandum of Understanding, i.e. a Partnership Agreement between the churches and community clearly defining the roles, and responsibilities of each partner- namely The Oshandi AIDS Trust, The Church of the Holy Spirit, and the 'Ombome Oto Volunteer Organisation'. Hopefully this will lead to transparency of actions between the partners. The closer involvement of the church is to be welcomed as there are obvious gaps in client care in situations needing family counselling, spiritual support.
A Visit to Omungolyo school was limited by the fact that years 10 and 12 were writing exams.
Poverty in this area remains a serious problem, the schools feeding programme has been discontinued and there is no longer an HIV/AIDS adviser and no link with medical support for HIV positive children. The head welcomed the link he has developed with the Sole Fide Trust in UK and the benefits this may bring in terms of improving teaching practice and management.
At Malangu School we were welcomed by the acting head-Engel Nghitoolwa - enthusiastic and committed to the children in her care. Staff complements 8, plus a janitor- school roll 287. Problems - mainly concerned HIV positive children. There is no longer a school feeding programme so drug compliance is difficult for them. (they need proper nourishment for the drugs to be effective) Community issues-because of the new road systems-road traffic accidents are increasing; and the continuing drought has led to higher levels of domestic poverty. Engel was hopeful that drought
relief will be available in the next days. Lack of any support from government and/or aid agencies, for children living with HIV JAIDS and suffering from malnutrition is currently a problem.
Meeting with PLWHA-(People Living With HIV/AIDS) including older orphans. Issues Orphans not registered are still unable to claim benefits, (if they are not born in a hospital they are usually not registered) proving orphan status remains a problem, many still living with elderly grandparents. They are currently unemployed and unskilled and in need of vocational training if possible. A need for supportive care and counselling was identified.
Vocational training centre visited at Eenhana and information re the number of courses and costs involved obtained. This with a view to the Trust funding bursaries/ scholarships/sponsorships for training courses for young people who would otherwise remain unemployed. Also, there is a need for pastoral care and support for these vulnerable young people which could possibly be arranged through the church pastoral care committee.
A project established by the link in 1997 had been the 'Sarah' Nursery -offering free preschool education to under sevens and staffed entirely by volunteers. Funds for equipment came from donations from UNICEF and the St Chad school fund, however since its closure in 2009, due to lack of volunteer support and withdrawal of UNICEF- there has been no pre-school education for under sevens. In 2018 the building was bought by a private company offering fee paying active/ interactive nursery education for 3-7-year olds. Staffed by 3 qualified nursery- school teachers, the 24 pupils attend 'mornings only/5 days per week-term time only. Curriculum is based on the UNICEF programme introduced in 2002.
Before leaving the UK we had been asked by clergy and congregation of St Thomas Church - Saddleworth Benefice, to identify an 'ecological project which would support a Namibian community whilst fulfilling their objective of becoming an 'Eco Partner This was achieved by promoting a link with the 'Joy to the World' Kindergarten-a project supported by the Anglican Province of South Africa. This charity provides a 'home' for 40 orphans aged 2-7, supported by Hope Africa - an Anglican Mission based in Derbyshire led in Namibia by Sister Gertrude supported by a staff of teachers, house matrons, cooks and janitors. The environmental need was identified as replacement of two water tanks and new piping-cost N$ 24000. Details forwarded to St Thomas Church-and the work has now been completed.
Home visits with volunteers gave insight into the difficulties faced on visits. Long distances, difficult terrain, sometimes an aggressive reception from an angry or confused client or relative. All observed visits were conducted with care, consideration and courtesy towards clients. However, there is perhaps a need for skills training in situations concerning mental health issues, and the care of those with long term chronic disabling illness resulting from HIV. - This to be discussed with Sister Hambiya and included in the training programme.
Our last day was spent in meeting with the teams and the inevitable feast. We had time with Liina Nampula at that time an active MP-on leave from her duties in Windhoek. We explained the Memorandum of Understanding to her-hoping that there will now be an opportunity to agree to closer working relationship between the charity partners- relationships that will benefit the whole community.
Unfortunately, due to the pandemic events in the UK and in Namibia are on hold. We hope to resume contacts this year and move all our projects forwards.