Standard Bank Namibia yesterday contributed N$400 000 to the project Never Walk Alone for the procurement of shoes for underprivileged children across the country.
Project Never Walk Alone is a non-profit initiative that raises funds to give needy Namibian children a brand-new pair of shoes.
Patron and founder of the project Tim Ekandjo said they have about 90 000 Namibians on the database, with 80% of them being school-going children. “We are starting with them (children) because they are most vulnerable; if you drive around, you will see a lot of barefooted children,” he stated.
Since the start of the project 16 months ago, about 6 200 pairs have been delivered.
With this new pledge, the team targets 10 000 for this year, starting in Kunene’s Outjo circuit in February 2023, to deliver 1 275 pairs of shoes.
“The regions that are top in terms of the statistics is Kavango East, which requires about 50 000 pairs of shoes, followed by Ohangwena with 10 000. Kunene requires 4 813 and Omusati 4 020 – and of course, the numbers continue to grow,” explained Ekandjo. He added that they are guided by the education ministry in terms of statistics.
“We have spoken to the ministry of education, and they have been connecting us to every regional education director in this regional innovation that has to go to their agents to every school and speak to the teachers. They would identify learners, whose parents cannot afford shoes, and then kids who do not have better shoes. That’s how we came up with the numbers,” he explained.
He said the initiative requires a total budget of N$80 million to get to the 90 000 pairs.
“We have to be realistic about this, so we have a five-year plan; we have collected about N$3.1 million from sponsorships, but we do not only rely on that. We had a boxing event where we raised N$1.3 million, as well as a gala dinner, where we raised N$300 000,” he added.
Standard Bank CEO Mercia Geises said it is through vehicles, such as project NWA, that people get to live through their purpose.
“That purpose is that Namibia is our home, and we drive the growth. For that growth to become concrete and visible, it has to be growth in people,” she said.
She said the project has a huge task ahead of instilling confidence in the Namibian
child to have a sense of belonging and dignity.
Geises noted: “The biggest challenge we have is that some children have shoes and others don’t. This causes a bit of inferiority, and we aspire to support this project so that we get people and children to feel proud, dignified and cared for,” she said.
Project NWA has entered into a partnership agreement with Shilongo Leather Works, a 100% Namibian-owned company, which will make the shoes of the project.
The shoes are 100% leather-made, with 80% of the material sourced in Namibia –
and they have a lifespan of more than five years. Shilongo Leather has committed to giving the project a 35% discount for every shoe bought.