By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK Talk about whether Namibians were caring volunteers or not in yesterday’s edition of New Era, has given rise to comments from a number of readers who argued that in fact Namibia was a caring and sharing nation when it came to volunteerism. Strongly backing the claim, President of the Windhoek Rotary Club Inge Murangi said volunteerism is alive and well in the country. The Rotary Club is a volunteer charity group that provides assistance to the disadvantaged citizens of society. Deflecting public perceptions that lending a helping hand was somehow lacking, Murangi informed New Era that the age old and in most cases unrecognised volunteering in the rural communities exists. “This is community volunteerism in a subtle way, where a person can help an elderly woman carry her bucket of water or firewood bundle. Even just taking care of someone who is sick is volunteering your time with that specific person,” explained Murangi. Through the six Rotary clubs in the country, of which two are in Windhoek, members of the club have been availing their time, resources and finances to the plight of the underprivileged. Donations of blankets to the elderly at the Katutura Old Age Home, children’s Christmas braais and awarding of professional certificates are just part of the volunteer work carried by the Rotary Club. Similarly, Agnes Tom talked about life-long care-givers of HIV/Aids sufferers, their willingness and passion for helping the vulnerable citizens infected and affected by the pandemic. Caregivers like Tom have for long overlooked the name she has been called in society, “The Aids Woman”, focussing all her energies on helping orphans and vulnerable children, as well as people living with HIV/Aids. While she has been involved in volunteer work as a caregiver since 1993, others as young as 19 years are keen to follow in her footsteps. These are Namibia Red Cross Society volunteers Ellen Ndemulombwela and Vicky Kaposambo. Their drive to help less fortunate people without a fixed salary or wage was their reason for becoming volunteers. “Helping others does not mean that you are a servant, but we just want to help people and at least make some kind of difference in their lives,” said Ndemulombwela with a smile. For the past six to 11 months and soon after completing their school these youngsters chose to become volunteers and through that, they gained knowledge about how people live differently. The two volunteers encouraged more Namibians to become volunteers and care givers: “If you are stingy, you won’t get anywhere. So, even if you just give the little that you can, you can make a big difference in the lives of the disadvantaged people.” On World Volunteers Day on Monday December 5, 2005, the Namibia Red Cross launched the sale of rubber armbands for their HIV/Aids “Come Closer…anti-stigma” campaign. The colourful armbands carry fun massages like “Hug Hug – You Cannot get HIV by Hugging” and “Play Play – You cannot get HIV by playing”. Profits from the sales will benefit volunteers and children affected by HIV/Aids.
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