Community members in Outjo have come together to establish a social fund to assist with burial arrangements for those who struggle to offer a dignified send-off for their loved ones.
The group is the brainchild of Mona-liza Haimbondi, who said the community of Outjo found itself in a difficult predicament when Covid-19 deaths were on the rise, leaving many families unable to conduct burials due to lack of funds.
“So far, we have assisted 32 families who lost their loved ones since this initiative was put to work in April,” she said, adding that she replicated this idea from the Tsumeb community.
“Of those families, 20 were Covid-19 deaths, while the rest were due to other health complications. Our people were really in a difficult position; thus, I organised other members of the community to contribute to this fund as the situation affected us all.”
Haimbondi said the group now consists of 392 members, who are required to make a contribution of N$50 and above whenever there is a need.
She said, when the programme started, they were giving a cash amount of N$3 000 to bereaved families. It was then restructured, following the squandering of the funds by recipient family members.
“We were giving cash earlier, but this was abused by some individuals, who diverted the funds for their own use. Also considering the high death rate, N$3 000 was becoming an unsustainable figure, so we had to reduce it to N$1 000 to accommodate and assist everyone. Having taken note of the diversion of funds, we then started offering food vouchers,” said the group chairperson, who is employed as a nurse in Tsumeb.
She said the voucher is used to provide food to mourners during the grieving period.
“Some families had no one at all to assist. It was a painful and traumatising moment. So far, we are happy; it has yielded good results – thus, we are hoping to expand the purpose of this fund to also start catering for the needs of vulnerable schoolgoing children,” she stressed.