By Petronella Sibeene REHOBOTH Yesterday, 67 students received certificates after going through an intensive training course in different fields. This is in line with the Women’s Action for Development (WAD) and Organisation for the Empowerment of Widows/Widowers and Orphans of HIV/AIDS (OEWONA)’s philosophies to assist young unemployed people. The training follows WAD’s pledge during the official launch of OEWONA late last year, to assist in providing skills to 10 young people orphaned by HIV/AIDS. “With these skills that I now have, I will find a job and sustain myself and be able to assist my two brothers and my two sisters,” enthused 20-year-old orphan of HIV/AIDS Monica Shimuuleni after she received a certificate at Hardap training centre yesterday. She admitted that living as an orphan in most cases is tough. However, she encouraged fellow orphans to have confidence in themselves and seek ways to get empowered. “As orphans, we just have to hold onto our confidence and believe in ourselves, we should not try to break ourselves.” Sharing the same view, Patron of OEWONA, First Lady Penehupifo Pohamba indicated that most orphans and vulnerable members of society live under difficult conditions. Given that, it is important that these young people be empowered in a way that would enable them find employment. The 67 young people were trained in computer literacy, needlework, fabric painting and baking. “The kind of training offered here is crucial … it’s practical and can be used to find employment or start income-generating projects,” the first lady said. Executive Director of WAD Veronica de Klerk added that the graduation of these young people was viewed by her organisation as yet another step closer to the realisation of its vision to address the fast growing problem of poverty in the country. She announced yesterday that her organisation would further train more young people identified by OEWONA who might be solely dependent on social assistance, especially people orphaned by HIV/AIDS. The situation of orphaned and vulnerable young people in Africa has become even more worrying. According to De Klerk, at a global conference held a week ago in South Africa, it was revealed that child-headed households were increasing and unfortunately, women heading households deliberately started engaging in activities that would put them at risk of contracting the HIV virus. She said: “If we fail to address the plight of AIDS orphans, HIV infection is likely to rise and especially girls in desperate need of food will be forced into early marriages, commercial sex work, abusive relationships or premature sexual activities which unjustly expose them to sexually transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS.” According to the latest Population and Housing Census, there are currently 159 000 orphans and vulnerable children in Namibia and with the ongoing scourge of the HIV pandemic, the numbers are still rising. “If every orphan is assisted to become a young man or woman who can add value to our nation or country, that child is a meaningful social or economic investment in our country,” De Klerk noted. Through WAD’s training programmes at Rehoboth, 65 percent of the 2 093 computer graduates and 50 percent of the 910 receivers of office administration certificates have found jobs. Further, 35 percent of the 882 needlework students and 50 percent of the 956 students who have received training in bread and cake baking are also in job placements.
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