By William Mbangula OSHAKATI Relatives of patients at the Oshakati Hospital have finally been provided with shelter constructed by a community-based organisation Speed Bike Enterprises cc. The N$700 000 building which can accommodate close to 50 people a day is equipped with eight sleeping rooms, three toilets, a kitchen and an HIV counselling and information centre. The building is also provided with electricity and water. A nominal fee of N$5 per night would be charged for maintenance purposes. The funds for the construction of the centre were contributed by individuals, government institutions and NGOs such as Coca Cola Africa Foundation, French Co-operation, World Bank, UNAIDS, VSO, Oshana Regional Council, FNB, Bank Windhoek, AVBOB, Pama Pharmacy, Pupkewitz Building and Yelula. Oshakati Town Council donated the land on which the building was erected. According to project coordinator Ndasimana Akuumba, his organisation has been concerned about the vulnerability of relatives of the patients who due to long distances and transport problems could not return to their respective places on the same day after visiting the sick. As a result, they were often left stranded. Oshakati hospital is a referral institution with about 750 beds located and serving the regions where half of the Namibian population lives. It predominantly serves the rural areas where there are still strong bonds between extended family members. “This state of affairs led to many relatives of patients to squatter in and around the Oshakati Hospital, exposing them to heat and rain. Such a situation has been inhuman and degrading to those involved. Besides, it causes illnesses such as malaria, flu and other diseases which weaken them … not to look after their relatives properly in the hospital,” said Akuumba. Speed Bike Enterprises is a community-based organisation, which provides courier services on bicycles. It was established with the technical assistance of Unam SME Centre. The Director of Health in the Oshana Region Dr Naftali Hamata will officially open the centre next Tues-day.