By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK As chilly temperatures settle in, there are still many people out there in the cold who cannot afford to have a jersey or even a hot cup of soup to keep warm this winter. Among the vulnerable are street children that crowd around shopping centres and sleep under bridges with black plastic bags that fail to keep the cold temperatures away. But with this unfortunate group are the elderly, who with their pension cannot afford to buy warm clothing for winter. This is all too common a sight in the country and in an effort to make life a little more bearable, a South African doctor from Johannesburg, practicing dentistry in Namibia for the past five years, is planning to start a charity initiative that he calls the Winter Project. When New Era caught up with Dr Kagiso Moloi in the capital yesterday to find out more about the project, it became evident that this is a humanitarian calling. "It was one very chilly Sunday morning when I saw some street children huddling together and the song 'We are the World' by Michael Jackson came to mind," said Dr Moloi who added that there are many people in need of help. The idea was born two years ago when he was on a visit to Grootfontein, where there was a feeding project at Shamalindi Primary School. It was there that the school children at the farm school near the town were fed and given second-hand clothing by some good Samaritans. Now Dr Moloi, who has moved his practice to Windhoek, plans to start a similar project in the capital. "Any donations are welcome except money, because money tends to cause problems and has to be accounted for," said Dr Moloi. The idea has been popularised on Unam Radio's Jazz Programme and donations of old clothing and tinned food have been forthcoming. They are being stored in Dr Moloi's garage after which they would be sorted out and distributed to charity centres in the city. Beneficiaries would include the Katutura Old Age Home, SOS Children's Village, the Shamalindi Primary School and other street kids found in Windhoek. For now, the dentist who plans to stay in the country with his wife and two children, is looking for assistance from a social health worker and volunteers who can help him in identifying beneficiary groups and street children centres to which the donations can be made in the coming few weeks. In the meantime, the Government Institutions Pension Fund (GIPF) has responded positively to the Winter Project initiative, informing the doctor that donations of second-hand clothing would be made after a bulk collection from the company. Although the street children problem in Namibia is not as bad as in South Africa, Dr Moloi feels that something needs to be done to address the plight of vulnerable children, disadvantaged women and the elderly during the winter period. When asked how he manages to balance his work and that of the charity Winter Project, Dr Moloi said he loves what he does for those who are less fortunate in society. "My service is being appreciated in this country and I am prepared to give my time here. It is just a rat race in South Africa and I love this country," he said. Besides the project, he is also giving his dentistry services free of charge to members of the Special Olympics Namibia, while at the same time hosting a Jazz Show on Unam Radio.
2006-05-31 00:00:00 12 years ago