By William J. Mbangula OSHAKATI Some widows are refusing to submit copies of the death certificates of children fathered by deceased husbands out of wedlock, thus depriving these children of their benefits. Once the widows decide to play hardball, the children born out of wedlock lose out on government grants and other benefits. This concern was raised by the Governor of the Oshana Region, Clemens Kashuupulwa, in his welcoming remarks at the three-day sensitization workshop of the Organisation for the Empowerment of Widows, Widowers and Orphans of HIVAids in Namibia (OEWONA). “While we are doing our best to help them (the widows) to get what is due to them, we also expect them to fully co-operate with us in order for the orphans to have access to the death certificates of their deceased fathers and benefit from grants intended for them,” he explained. Among the audience at the meeting were female councillors, traditional leaders, retired teachers and nurses, the Director of Health in Oshana, Naftali Hamata, the wives of the chiefs and senior headmen in the north – among them Cecilia Kauluma Elifas of Ondonga, Hertha Munkundi of Ongandjera, Hilja Nelulu of Oukwanyama, Selma Shooya of Uukolonkadhi and Lydia Iipumbu of Uukwambi. Kashuupulwa, who spoke on behalf of the Governors of Omusati, Oshikoto and Ohangwena who were due to attend the meeting, called on captains of industry, business people, individuals and all stakeholders to become partners in the quest for alleviating the plight of vulnerable people in society. “On behalf of my fellow governors in the northern regions, I pledge our support and co-operation through our respective regional councils to ensure that, together, we make inroads in the alleviation of the suffering of vulnerable people. By doing your part, all of us together with OEWONA will surely restore the human dignity that has been denied the widows, widowers and orphans caused HIV/AIDS in our regions.” OEWONA, which was founded last year in November, called on the three-day meeting of influential women at Ongwediva to exchange ideas, make suggestions and come up with ” … operational strategies how to effectively and efficiently support and assist vulnerable people”. The organisation, with its patron, First Lady Penehupifo Pohamba, who was also at the meeting, has outlined some of its objectives like determining the impact of HIV/AIDS by doing needs assessments directed at widows/widowers and orphans. It is run with the daily support and advice from the First Lady, the board of directors, full-time employees including the chief executive officer (CEO), volunteers, international, national and local institutions and the government of Namibia.
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