Hope Village a Home for the Hopeless

Nine years since it was established, Hope Village that is situated in the dusty Lucia Street of Katutura’s Goreangab location continues to give hope to children with no homes. The centre is home to 84 children who although being from different backgrounds have similar pasts of abuse, neglect and the loss of parents. The youngest child is eight months old while the oldest is 20 years old.

“The children live here as a normal family. We make sure they go to school, hospital when they are sick and their school fees are settled,” Herman Van Dijken who manages the shelter told New Era in the comfort of his office at Hope Village on Tuesday this week. Children are placed with the shelter by social workers because of unbearable living conditions at their homes. House mother Dina Afrikaner clearly demonstrates her love for children in her conduct and speech but says while it is not easy to care for the children it is important to constantly show them love and not give up on them. “We have to do a lot of encouragement here,” she says enthusiastically. Children who were born with HIV, and are now teenagers, need encouragement and reassurance that their condition is not a death sentence but is like living with high blood pressure or diabetes. “We have to encourage them to take their tablets, we speak life into them,” she adds. All the children are taught basic household chores such as cleaning and cooking, Afrikaner says. In addition to this they are taught Bible studies, songs and drama.

“Sometimes children stay here for a little and when the situation settles down at their houses they go back but most of the time they stay here until Grade 12,” Van Dijken adds. Some children stay until they are 20 years old and then they have to leave the shelter to either go back to their families or find an alternative place to live. Fortunately the officials at the shelter help to facilitate the process.

“It is very easy to get children into the shelter. The problem is to get them out because some are not motivated and I know they will struggle if they do not have a proper education. It is not always easy working with teenagers but we have to constantly make them aware that they have to work hard and have a qualification,” he says.

However, there are children who are academically motivated and perform exceptionally well, Van Dijken notes. “The children do perform well academically, even the ones that struggled in the beginning,” says Afrikaner. She says people, especially parents, should not give up on children as they are the future hope of the nation.

Family members, especially mothers, sometimes visit their children at the shelter, Van Dijken adds. The children are also allowed to bring their friends to the shelter and according to Afrikaner youth groups, church organisations and people who have the welfare of children at heart are welcome to visit the shelter to spend time with the children.

“Children like it when others visit them to play, it brings them joy,” says Afrikaner. “This is a healthy place and they take very good care of us. it is better than where I lived before because I come from an abusive home,” said a teenager who has been living at Hope Village since 2008. He says he does not see his family often since his mother died last year.

“My father lost his job last year and I also do not see him that much because he now lives in the north,” adds the teenager. Asked on what career path he wants to follow, he swiftly answers, “I want to be a pilot.” He continues: “All we have to do is use our time very wisely because the difference between a rich man and a poor man is that the rich man used his time wisely.”

Source : New Era