General

VENESSA KINDERGARTEN: DRC’S BEACON OF HOPE

Summary

SWAKOPMUND: Nestled within the community of DRC in Swakopmund lies a beacon of hope for disadvantaged youth: Venessa Kindergarten, soon to be renamed Namibian Woman and Children’s Foundation.

Founded by the determined Louisa Kativa, the kindergarten …

SWAKOPMUND: Nestled within the community of DRC in Swakopmund lies a beacon of hope for disadvantaged youth: Venessa Kindergarten, soon to be renamed Namibian Woman and Children’s Foundation.

Founded by the determined Louisa Kativa, the kindergarten is not just a place of early education, but also a lifeline for teenagers and young mothers facing immense challenges.

Kativa, the current Swakopmund Constituency Councillor, is a former healthcare professional who noticed a dire need for support among pregnant teenage girls, often from underprivileged backgrounds.

These girls, burdened by societal pressures and lack of resources, faced bleak futures.

Determined to make a difference, Kativa embarked on a mission to provide them with educational opportunities and a path to independence.

‘During my past profession in the Ministry of Health, I encountered many young girls who dropped out of school due to teenage pregnancy or having no one to care for their babies when they wanted to go back to school. This then
prompted this initiative in 2018,’ she elaborated.

She explained that the institution operates on a unique model, catering specifically to the needs of teenage mothers, whose babies are cared for during the day, allowing mothers to attend school and breastfeed their infants during breaks while busy with homework.

‘This innovative approach not only supports the teenagers academically, but also fosters a nurturing environment for both mother and child. There are currently over 30 youth enlisted in the programme who depend on donations here and there to enable them to care and feed the needy youth and their children,’ she carried on.

Currently, there is only one caregiver and a few volunteers offering pre-primary education and daycare services.

Despite the institution’s aim to make a difference in society, the journey has not been without challenges as it faces several limitations such as dilapidated infrastructure, very limited space, and insufficient facilities.

The edu-carer at the kindergarten, Evanthia
Kazondunge, who took up the role in 2020, explained that despite the challenges posed by limited resources, the spirit of determination thrives within the walls of this modest institution.

‘The structure is falling apart, the roof is worn out, and the floor, once solid, now has to be covered with a plastic mat, causing water to pool in unexpected places when it rains or is too misty. The number of children is increasing, and they are now becoming crammed in the classroom,’ Kazondunge explained.

Despite these obstacles, the team remains steadfast in their commitment to providing quality education and support to the community’s youth.

The caregiver emphasised the potential of every child, saying they are dedicated to unlocking it, regardless of financial constraints, outlining some of the success stories at the institution.

One of the young people who has benefited and continues to benefit from this programme is 19-year-old Genesis Jafet, who is currently in Grade 10.

Jafet joined the programme last year w
hen she lost her one-year-old baby boy due to illness.

‘This programme helped me get over the ordeal of losing my baby while encouraging and motivating me to go back to school, which I was forced to drop out of as a result of falling pregnant. I did not have much support from home with my child after losing him. Joining this programme was the best decision I made for my future because I am now back in school and more determined than ever to complete my studies,’ she narrated.

Another such success story is Uakataviza Katjimune, a 27-year-old who is determined to rewrite his academic trajectory.

Despite facing setbacks after high school, Katjimune’s encounter with Venessa Kindergarten reignited his passion for learning.

He migrated from Okakarara to Swakopmund in pursuit of a better life for his parents and family back home and was then referred to the institution, which assisted him with his studies.

‘Through their financial assistance, I was able to upgrade my Grade 12, with an impressive 30 points, and
I would now like to pursue further studies in chartered accountancy. I am forever grateful to this institution for enabling me to come this far in my studies. Had it not been for them, I would not have been able to find myself on this path,’ he expressed.

Venessa Kindergarten is now seeking assistance in securing a larger plot of land to expand its facilities.

Additionally, funding is needed to sponsor university education for deserving students like Katjimune, ensuring that their aspirations are not limited by financial constraints.

Beyond academics, the school envisions a holistic approach to empowerment. Plans for a playground, though limited by space, symbolise the commitment to fostering physical well-being alongside mental growth.

Additionally, initiatives like gardening projects and entrepreneurial mentorship are needed to instil self-sufficiency and resilience within the community.

‘We do not just want hand-out assistance; we want to equip families with the tools to create their opportunities, to
build sustainable livelihoods,’ Kazondunge expressed.

The founder passionately advocated for the future of Namibia’s youth, with a clear message stating that no child should be left behind and through collective effort and support from the community, the programme will continue to be a beacon of hope, illuminating the path towards a brighter future for generations to come.

Source: The Namibia Press Agency