OMUTHIYA - The Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS- Free, Mentored and Safe (Dreams) project was launched in Oshikoto Region, in September 2018 in an effort to change or improve the livelihoods of children/ learners. This program is mainly targeting adolescent girls and women.
Project Hope Namibia in partnership with Star for Life, is running a programme called Dreams, which is aimed at changing the lives of learners for a better future.
Project Hope is a Namibian Based organization funded by The President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the United States Agency for International Development (Usaid).
Dreams came to Oshikoto after a study conducted in 2017 by Namibia Population-Based HIV Impact Assessment (Namphia) revealed that adolescent girls and young women are the most vulnerable when it comes to HIV infections and teenage pregnancy.
These were indicated as the two major social ills affecting adolescent girls and young women in Oshikoto of which the majority are school going.
It was established in most cases girls fall prey due to economic aspects. Dreams thus give support to these people to learn and be content with what they have.
So far, the program has rolled out to 16 schools in Oshikoto, whereby life coaches from Project Hope conduct exclusive sessions with the learners / peer educators to discuss issues affecting them at schools and in their surroundings. One of the schools that are benefiting from Dreams in Oshikoto Region is Omutsegonime Combined School situated 20 Kilometers south of Omuthiya town. The school had records of about 10 cases of school dropouts, due to teenage pregnancies.
Being one of the schools with the high rate of school dropouts the program was introduced at the school towards the end of 2018, with the aim of empowering learners with necessary skills and information. It was further noted that, most of the learners do not stay with their parents, while some are co-parenting, thus making it difficult in their daily lives.
The school principal, Armas Nandjingua applauded Project Hope for the initiation, saying, “even though it is too early to comment on the progress or changes made so far, there is an element of improvement as well as a positive sign, and it shows that the program will definitely have an impact on the learners.”
“At the beginning of the program it was a little bit difficult because parents were not well informed, but since they are now involved, it is becoming effective,” further stated Nandjingua.
Lucia Shiningombwa a Grade 9 learner and a Dreams girl said she joined the program because she wants to help other learners by motivating and creating a free environment for the girls where they can share all problems affecting their studies. “Girls are faced with lots of issues such as relationships, menstruation, bullying and many others, I therefore want to help them if they are not free to share their problems with the teachers, they come to me for help,” stressed an ecstatic Shiningombwa.
“Yes, I was a different girl and now I can say I am transformed by Project Hope through Dreams program because I now know how to handle myself as a girl. I have learned a lot about what a girl is,” she acknowledged.
Shiningombwa reiterated that everything has its ups and downs, for instance in her case, other learners would mock her whenever she tried to offer advices. She noted, “In such cases I liaise with my life skills teacher to assist. In addition, she implored fellow learners to study hard, stay away from unprepared relationships because they will always find them later.”
Another stakeholder is the Namibia University of Science and Technology (Nust), which is giving training to teachers to help the learners having trouble in subjects such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The aim is to help motivate learners in achieving their goals in such subjects.
*Josephina Mwashindange is an Information Officer in the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology based in Oshikoto Region