By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK The hard work of the Christina Swart-Opperman Aids Orphan Foundation Trust paid off last week when pledges of thousands of dollars were realized. The money will help vulnerable children. At a fundraising gala dinner in the capital, over 500 representatives from various parastatals and private companies pledged money for the less privileged. The theme for this year’s fundraising event was an “Ode to the Spirit of the Namibian Child,” which is geared towards praising the true spirit, joy and courage of the Namibian child in the face of the growing HIV/Aids pandemic. Prime Minister Nahas Angula commended all good Samaritans who continuously provide financial contributions for the needs of thousands of orphaned and vulnerable children (OVC) in the country. “Outside under the stars, in shacks, in sparsely furnished houses and shelter, around 66 000 Namibian children are growing up, not with their nearest and dearest, but without them. This is the result of the terrible pandemic called HIV/Aids,” said Angula. The premier noted that HIV/Aids remains the single biggest threat to the development of the country. Therefore, a collective effort is needed from all sectors of society to deal with the effect of the pandemic on children. “Let us take hands and be instruments and bring back a generation of mothers, fathers and children who live together as families and not just a population of brothers and sisters who have to teach themselves how to survive in this messed-up world of ours,” said Angula. Time has come to deal with the stigma and discrimination against HIV/Aids sufferers. Since the initiation of the trust by the former Business Woman of the Year, Dr Christina Swart-Opperman, the organisation has strived to assist 2 554 orphans and vulnerable children to meet their basic needs and improve their living conditions. Currently, 1 075 children are being cared for every month in the form of feeding schemes, education projects and general improvement of the quality of life. Besides these activities, the children are also provided with advice on prevention of HIV/Aids as well as much-needed psychosocial support to deal with the traumatic experience of losing their parents. As a non-profit organisation, the trust solicits funds through various fundraising events. Founder of the Trust, Dr Swart-Opperman, thanked the various companies for the continuous support over the years. “The question for us as representatives of the business community is whether we can still manage or make a contribution to managing this situation successfully. “I believe we can – we must empower our vulnerable children and treat them as proud citizens of Namibia with a future, rather than as just victims,” said Swart-Opperman. All the proceeds of the fundraising gala will go towards junior primary schools in the Ruacana constituency and to a total number of 453 learners from the Ovahimba, Ovazemba and San communities. The prioritised needs of these schools are school uniforms, stationery, feeding programmes, hostel accommodation, provision of water, school bells and tents for camping.
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