Brand New Soup Kitchen For The Children Of Okombahe

02 May 2014 15:50pm
By Francois Lottering

OKOMBAHE, 02 MAY (NAMPA) - Feeding 70 hungry orphans and vulnerable children every day is no easy task, and it is even harder when you do not receive any financial assistance to lighten the task.
Despite this, Albertina Wilhelm was not held back by the thought of dollars and cents when she embarked on a project to feed children from her area in the Erongo Region.
She just saw the need and started what has today become a beacon of hope for the many destitute children in the dusty roads of Okombahe.
Needy Children Home (NCH) was officially opened on 19 April 2014 by its German sponsors - the Association for Christian Humanitarian Cooperation (AfCHC), and the Councillor of the Daures Constituency.
The opening was made possible by former teacher Joachim Knoche and his wife Margret, whose roots in Okombahe started in 1989 when they were involved with the Martin Luther High School situated close to Okombahe.
Albertina, who worked as the Knoche family’s assistant before Independence in 1990, called on the couple for assistance in establishing the soup kitchen.
The request from Okambahe to Pfedelbach in Germany did not fall on deaf ears, and the wheels were set into motion to make Albertina's aim to provide children with at least one plate of nutritious food per week, a reality.
The Knoches’ roots run deeper in Namibia than just being educators, as their three sons were also born here. They still maintain contact with their friends, former colleagues and students.
“This is the reason why my wife and I are always coming to Namibia from time to time,” Joachim told Nampa.
The couple depend on others to assist raising funds to help Albertina's soup kitchen achieve its goal to feed the hungry.
“Raising funds is not so easy. Although Germany is a rich country, we have to go to the people who have the money and tell them about the needy people and Albertina in Okombahe,” he said.
He explained how they hold festivals and meetings where they tell stories and show people pictures of Okombahe. Some of the donations also come from learners who have part-time jobs, and who donate their earnings to AfCHC.
“It is because of the involvement of others in Germany that we are able to open the soup kitchen here,” Joachim said.
The couple is also involved in other ways.
“The other assistance is to help students at school, for example by helping needy parents to pay their school fees at Martin Luther High School. In Windhoek we support a school where we also pay school fees,” he said.
They are involved at an informal school in Opuwo, where a young woman took it upon herself to teach street children, while the Okombahe clinic also receives some assistance by means of equipment and basic medication from the AfCHC.
“The important thing to us is that all the beneficiaries are friends,” Joachim noted.
In a broken world where many children are walking the streets and sleeping under trees, the Knoches’ dream for all children is to be raised in freedom and in a Christian or other religious atmosphere. “People should not be so selfish, and think less about themselves. Once this happens all over the world, children can be raised in good societies where they are taken care of. Families are broken and parents do not care for their children,” Joachim stated.
An overwhelmed Albertina, who spoke through an interpreter, said her dream for a soup kitchen has been realised due to the grace of God with the assistance of the Knoches through the AfCHC.
“I will now be able to feed at least 70 children three times per week,” she said. The kitchen was constructed with bricks and corrugated iron bought with funds raised in Germany. It was built by Albertina's sons with the help of other residents of Okombahe. The kitchen boasts running water, electricity, and a pantry; as well as a six-plate gas stove and cooking utensils which were donated by First Lady Penehupifo Pohamba.
The assistance Albertina receives is however still not enough as there are many more children who need to be fed. The association pays the money into Erongo Wholesalers’ bank account and food is then purchased from them. This however also poses a problem as the wholesaler is situated in Omaruru some 80 kilometres from Okombahe, and Albertina does not always have reliable transport to take her there. But this does not deter her from ensuring that the children of Okombahe do not go hungry.
She also dreams of possible additions to the kitchen, such as a dining hall.
“I would also love for the children to be supported in their education, have knowledge and care for others in the future so they can be leaders in future,” Albertina noted.
Regional Councillor of the Daures Constituency Ehrnst Katjiku handed out food parcels to the children during the opening. “I am happy to be here today, giving food to the poorest of the poor. This is very sentimental and I trust it will make a meaningful difference in the lives of these young Namibians,” he said.
Okombahe is situated north-west of Omaruru. Most of the residents are subsistence farmers. The Omaruru River also provides a source of income as some residents plant crops like corn and maize during summer.
Although the settlement's health and education services are provided via the Erongo Regional Council, the settlement lacks many other facilities.
It has the potential to attract tourists, but there are no facilities for them to overnight or to top up their fuel, nor buy any curios from the residents. But this will soon change as a rest camp is currently under construction to cater for campers who want to overnight there.