The One Economy Foundation’s Project #BeFree Centre of Excellence managed to raise N$5.8 million at the recent seventh fundraising gala dinner.
The Project #BeFree Centre is currently under construction in Katutura, and will be a physical manifestation of the #BeFree engagements’ key learnings to provide a safe space for the youth.
First Lady Monica Geingos, who is the brainchild behind the project, said young people and their parents will have access to professional services, including psychological support, legal and criminal justice system guidance, the full spectrum of sexual reproductive health services, skills development, adolescent-friendly entertainment and other critical services.
“Youth unemployment and teenage pregnancy is something that keeps me awake at night, and this is the sole purpose of having such a centre, to address these key societal issues. We must stop the tendency of seeing young girls carrying babies instead of books. We must stop this mindset,” she stressed.
Geingos recalled being at a health facility and witnessing nine girls giving birth. Six were under 16 years of age, and one of the girl’s breasts had not even fully developed.
Technical director of the office of the first lady Veronica Theron said apart from the therapeutic and court work, they focus on economic strengthening; where they provide skills development opportunities, including start-up kits; and free shopping experiences.
“We create enabling environments for youth empowerment and youth reflection groups – Established the Unam #BreakFree Society led by Unam students, Survivors of Sexual Violence Support Group, and YPLHIV Care Group – we facilitate, they lead,” she stated.
Examples of meaningful engagements include three workshops with 150 teenage mothers, discussing the challenges they face daily; and a recent intervention with medical officers and staff at the Outjo State Hospital on statutory rape and mandatory reporting.
Head of programmes for the One Economy Foundation Kaarina Iita highlighted some key areas where such funds from pledges go, including the Talented Individual Programme, which is to identify children from low-income households who have high academic potential.
“We are fortunate enough to have three new donors who have sponsored a total of six new Fellows, starting 2023. There were 100’s of applications for these six spots. We want to continue affecting more lives, with your support. Please help us give one shot to children that need it the most. In return, we promise to continue guiding them through their entire process till they reach their full potential. All it takes is that one donation,” added Iita. - firstname.lastname@example.org