Creating A Safe Space In Ombili

27 Jul 2015 18:20pm
By Francois Lottering

WINDHOEK, 27 JUL (NAMPA) - 'Ubuntu' or the act of human kindness has taken on a new meaning in the Ombili informal settlement, where Johanna Andreas, who doesn’t have much to spare, is helping to take care of the children of others like her.
Andreas in 2009 saw the need for a safe place for the children of those living in dire conditions like her in the informal settlement in Katutura to stay during the day while parents and guardians are at work.
Despite the fact that hardly anyone in her surroundings could afford to pay for childcare services, Andreas decided to take the children under her wing at the Ombili Hallelujah Kindergarten.
Their parents mainly rely on informal employment such as domestic work and gardening, and formal employment positions at the bottom of the corporate ladder like a construction labourer to earn a living. Many lack a permanent income and those who are permanently employed, use the little income they receive for the bare necessities.
The colourful two-room facility accommodates 69 children from around three months old. Despite being a kindergarten, children aged up to 14 years have also found a safe haven in the centre while their parents are away during the day.
Speaking to Nampa last week, the community leader said she saw children in the streets with no place to receive an education and no proper care.
“I then approached several community leaders asking why there is no facility here to take care of the children, and why are they not attending school,” she said.
Andreas says her dream did not come easy as she had to struggle for almost two years to get a piece of land from the City of Windhoek to setup the kindergarten.
After receiving the land, the 56-year old kindergarten teacher forged ahead with her plans to open a kindergarten despite having to rely on donations to survive.
Andreas has to rely on whatever donations she receives to keep the kindergarten running, including providing the children with something to eat.
Luckily she has the support if people like Jehoiackim Kateve, a radio announcer employed at Base FM, who was on another assignment in the area when he got to know of Ombili Hallelujah Kindergarten. When he heard of the plight of Andreas and her daughter Taimy, he decided to sign the community kindergarten up as one of the beneficiaries of the community radio station’s charity drive.
They handed over a donation to the kindergarten last week.
Base FM station manager, Marco Ndlovu told this news agency the items such as food, blankets and clothes were collected through the radio station’s 'Winter Charity Drive'.
Base FM is a community radio station that operates from Katutura.
“It is an initiative that sees Base FM playing its role within the community,” Ndlovu said.
Through the charity drive, items are collected for the less fortunate.
“I feel blessed today for having touched the hearts of those who helped us,” Andreas said during the handing over on Thursday.
She also commended the community and families whose children she accommodates for their support and trust, as they are standing by her throughout her struggle to help this isolated school grow.