OVC/HIV-Positive Given Some Christmas Cheer

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK WITH the festive season just around the corner, many Namibians are beginning to embrace the Christmas spirit of giving and sharing with loved ones, especially those who are less fortunate. Recently, the German Development Service (DED) held a Christmas and Graduation Party for over 100 orphans and 40 people living with HIV/Aids of the Anna Marie HIV/Aids Caring Organisation (AMHACO) in Windhoek. The event coincided with the commemoration of World Aids Day on the 1st of December this year. Situated on the outskirts of the city in the informal settlement area of Greenwell Matongo, the kindergarten children of AMHACO were all smiles not just over the excitement of singing Christmas carols, reciting poems and drama but over the idea of knowing that next year, they’ll be in Grade One for the first time. AMHACO was registered under the Ministry of Health and Social Services three years ago as a welfare organisation. Given the fact that most of the people infected and affected by HIV/Aids are from poorer settlement areas like Greenwell Matongo, the organisation has over the years strived to provide them a comfort zone. In these areas, resources are limited and people infected or affected by HIV/Aids do not often receive proper support and care. According to Project Coordinator of AMHACO, Sherin Jacobs, who deals with People Living With HIV/Aids (PLWHA) as well as orphans and vulnerable children (OVC), life is extremely tough for them. “These are migrant people who come and stay here in search of a better life and job, but only to find themselves in poverty, unemployment and HIV/Aids. This becomes a culture shock for them and they end up being neglected. All the evils are down here and we are here to give them support,” explained Jacobs. Besides material and psycho-social support for orphans and counselling activities, the organisation also provides ongoing educational support after school, a day care centre, a soup kitchen and conducts support groups for people living with HIV/Aids and care takers. With the latest support from the German Development Service (DED), a Christmas and Graduation Party was a welcomed initiative. In her speech, DED Program-me Coordinator Marrianne Woeller commended AMHA-CO for helping the growing numbers of Aids orphans and vulnerable children in the country. “AMHACO gives a good example of how civil society is supporting to solve the social problems of the vulnerable women, children and families in Namibia,” said Woeller, adding that their financial and technical assistance to this group started in June this year. For the past three years, the organisation in Greenwell Matongo had to make do without a fridge, forcing them not to buy perishables, but rather stock tinned food. However, a recent donation of a fridge from DED made life so much easier for the caretakers to preserve the food for a much longer time. Governor of the Khomas Regional Council Sophia Shaningwa commended the organisation for its hard work and continuous dedication in helping their communities. She reiterated that it was this kind of hard work that contributes to the development of the constituency. Towards the end of the Christmas Party, the solemn song of ‘Silent Night’ epitomized the moving atmosphere when time came to remember the members of AMHACO who have passed away as a result of HIV/Aids.