VSO Aims at Assisting Disadvantaged

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By Francis Tsawayo WINDHOEK In its continued mission to promote volunteerism to fight global poverty, the Voluntary Service Overseas Namibia (VSO) will deploy 16 new volunteers in the regions to provide technical support to governmental, non-governmental and community volunteer organizations. The 16 volunteers recruited from Britain, Ireland, The Netherlands, India, Uganda and the Philippines will be working on two-year placements and will share their expertise and experiences in the fields of social work, Physiotherapy, Pharmaceuticals and HIV/AIDS. The current programme in Namibia comprises 75 volunteers who have been recruited and deployed within the regions based on the requests and technical needs of organizations within the regions. Volunteer work is ongoing within the regions of Ohangwena, Oshana, Omusati, Kavango, Caprivi, Khomas, with small numbers of people also working in Otjozondjupa, Kunene, Omaheke and Erongo regions. As part of the Country’s Strategic Plan (CSP), VSO aims to assist disadvantaged people in Namibia to gain opportunities and building capacities fully. Over the next five years, VSO has drawn up four key goals, outlined as the reduction in the impact of HIV/AIDS on the health of the Namibian society; eradication of stigma and misconceptions about disability, as well as to fight marginalization of people with disabilities; contribution to the development of quality education for disadvantaged children; and to improve the living conditions for disadvantaged groups within the country. According to the country director of VSO, Daan Gerretsen, his organization is focused on the provision of technical expertise to remote areas to assist organizations at all levels in order to increase their impact and effectiveness. “VSO brings people together to share skill creativity and learn to build a better world without poverty in which people work together to fulfil their potential,” he added. Gerretsen also noted that in past years, the organization has progressed as has the country because they experienced a significant shift from the requests coming from the regions. “Over the years, we had requests for teachers and mostly hands-on jobs, but most requests lately have been for advisers’ support,” Gerretsen elaborated. The regions of Kavango, Oshana and Ohangwena were said to have exhibited positive results in education. Gerretsen commends these three regions for their enthusiasm to work and experiment, which has resulted in a good working relationship with VSO. The Ministry of Health in Kunene was also highlighted for clearly identifying its needs and making beneficial requests. Efforts have been made to support local volunteer groups to being acknowledged for their efforts and for people to realize how much contribution volunteer work makes to development, Gerretson said as he revealed that a policy framework had been discussed. Gerretsen is optimistic that the new group would fit in the organizations within the regions.