OKAHANDJA - The plight of orphans and vulnerable children, particularly inthe Five Rand Camp informal settlement near Okahandja, is appalling.
This is reflected by the sad scenes of children who after school flock in their numbers while embracing the hot sun
with their plates and lunch boxes to a community daycare centre to get a meal before heading home.
This is all thanks to Kaunapawa Philemon, who feeds over 1 000 poverty-stricken
and vulnerable children in her community. She is of the opinion that these children cannot be expected to learn in school if their stomachs are empty.
Philemon is also a local authority councillor for the Okahandja municipality, and runs a community centre called Ileni Tulikwafeni, catering for 103 learners in kindergarten and pre-school, and over 1 000 children in the area coming to the soup kitchen.
When New Era visited the centre this week, Philemon said it is progressing,
and good Samaritans continue to give donations.
“The challenge is that the number of our orphans and vulnerable children is
increasing day by day. We are feeding over 1 000 orphans and vulnerable children. We can’t afford to feed them every day anymore. We can only feed them
Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. We noticed that every time these kids come
from the weekend, they are often very
This tells you the background of their homes. Most come from broken homes. If you go to their homes, you will feel pity.
The level of poverty is real here in Five
Rand,” she lamented.
She is appealing to good Samaritans to donate any food items and other related goods to help feed these growing numbers of needy children.
The centre has 17 workers helping on various projects such as the soup kitchen, gardening, poultry, daycare, kindergarten and pre-primary, after-school programme, bricklaying and laundry.
These projects are aimed to sustain the centre and keep it running to help needy communities.
The centre offers meals such as rice, macaroni, pap, fish, meat, chicken,
spinach, mixed vegetables, cabbage,
potatoes, carrots, fat cakes, instant porridge, bread and juice to the beneficiaries.
The Five Rand informal settlement only has a primary school, meaning all those at secondary level travel to Okahandja or elsewhere, such as Windhoek.
The sad part is that those vulnerable children who are attending secondary
school have to rush from Okahandja to Five Rand where they live to make it for a meal before the soup kitchen closes at 14h00.
Most parents in Five Rand are unemployed.
Meanwhile, those who work earn
meagre incomes as their only source of employment includes working as casual workers at nearby farms in the gardens and on poultry farms.
They earn between N$500 to N$750
Due to these sad realities, many children are surviving without adequate food and shelter. The centre also caters to best-performing children under its guardian angel programme, where such learners are given free school uniforms, stationery, paid school fees, casual wear and winter wear, amongst other benefits.
There are 16 children under this programme, and Philemon is confident that the number of beneficiaries will
increase next year. The centre is also catering to senior citizens and people with
disabilities. Therefore, she is appealing for a donation of seven wheelchairs for those with disabilities receiving aid at the centre.
“Some of these people had wheelchairs, but they got old and are no longer in use. They are struggling to move around without wheelchairs,” she noted.