Villagers Tackle HIV/AIDS

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By William J. Mbangula OSHAKATI Residents of Ondelekelama village in Oshakati East constituency have organised themselves into a support group as a way to address the challenges posed by HIVAids. Collectively, New Era was told, the group believes that their effort will help reduce the impact of HIVAids, generate income and engage in sustainable food production. The multi-pronged initiative kicked off last year and would through counselling concentrate mainly on the empowerment of individuals who are affected and infected by HIVAids. It will equip and support those stigmatized by the pandemic. As a supplementary measure to the needs of those to be served, the project has also introduced a self-help service in gardening, poultry and aquaculture activities. A one-hectare piece of land was provided by the traditional authority, which ground is currently being cleared for use for gardening. Ondelekelama village is located about 25 kilometres southeast of Oshakati town proper. It is a typical rural settlement with one combined school and various traditional homesteads. “As a community based project, we intend to build the capacity of the community and individuals with the skills which will enable them to involve themselves fully in the decision-making of their daily lives and cope with the pandemic,” said project manager Josephine Shiimi. She explained that the overall aim and objective of the project is to render support and care to orphans and vulnerable children, support children of destitute parents, uplift and provide a moral boost to those stigmatized by the pandemic through counselling and to provide appropriate treatment and a nutritional diet. To this end, said Shiimi, the project went out to seek financial assistance and material from various organisations. Following their plea for assistance, the project, whose patron is the councillor for Oshakati East Lotto Kuushomwa, succeeded recently when it secured financial and material support. The donation came in the form of N$200 000 from the SADC Department for International Development Funds (DIDF) which is operating under the Ministry of Health and Social Services. Speaking at a handover of the N$200 000 cheque recently, the governor of Oshana Clemens Kashuupulwa commended the DIFD for its generous assistance to the most vulnerable people in the community. He urged the project management to utilise the funds wisely and responsibly. “We should accept that this sponsorship came as a dream come true and we should make sure that the funds will bring drastic change at this village in terms of job creation in order to reduce poverty. In this connection, I wish to thank DIDF for having applied its mind and wisdom fully and without fail in an effort to find solutions to the challenges that we face,” said the governor. DIDF project manager Martha Gebhard said the donation to Ondelekelama project is the largest so far to be given to a community-based initiative in Oshana. For the said reason, she noted, the project beneficiaries should count themselves lucky because they were chosen out of many other potential applicants. “You succeeded because your project has a good business plan, it was supported by your councillor together with your governor. I therefore wish to urge you to work together, be transparent in all your dealings and utilise the funds wisely,” she said. As part of the effort to monitor the management and utilization of the funds, the project will always be in consultation with councillor Kuushomwa as well as the regional Aids co-ordinator (RACOC) Peter Iita. DIDF also donated a computer and a projector to RACOC in Oshana worth about N$ 14 000. Another beneficiary from DIDF’s generous sponsorship was the Tupopila Support Group at Ondangwa, which received N$10 640 financial assistance. Besides, about 350 home-based first aid kits worth N$100 000 were given to various community-based groups. DIDF operates only in the Oshana, Karas and Oshikoto regions. The chief health programme administrator Linda Nambundunga who stood in for the director of health in Oshana, Dr Naftali Hamata, also attended the occasion.