By Michael Liswaniso
Schmidt Construction, a property construction business operating in the Omusati, Oshana and Ohangwena regions, has donated food worth N$6 000 to learners at Ruiter Primary School, some 50 km north-east of Opuwo.
The learners boycotted classes last week because there was no food.
Despite repeated attempts by the school principal and teachers at the school to persuade learners to go back to classes, they vowed to stay away until their problem was solved.
The school, with a total of 130 learners, has no hostel, leaving them to stay in informal accommodation.
The school depends heavily on the government’s feeding programme. Food at the school ran out a week ago, forcing learners to flock to nearby villages.
Jerome Schmidt of Schmidt Construction, who is married to former ‘Businesswoman of the Year 2005’, Amalia Schmidt of Makalani Real Estates, delegated Makalani estate agent, Valencia van Rooyen, to coordinate and deliver the donation on their behalf.
The food arrived in Opuwo on Friday, and Van Rooyen travelled to the school in the company of the school principal, Andreas Nerongo.
The donation – the first of its kind, according to Nerongo – comprised 11 packets of 12.5 kg of sugar, 40 sacks of 20 kg and 50 kg maize meal, 10 boxes of soup and 10 boxes of tinned pilchards.
“We were very touched and thought of making even a small positive impact on the children. We want these learners not to give up their dreams, but we want them to achieve their dreams in education no matter what the circumstances. I also thank Run Traders which assisted us and the children with a price discount on the foodstuffs,” said Madam Van Rooyen.
Nerongo thanked the company for its help and promised he would make sure that all learners report to classes today.
“I am very grateful. This is the first company to avail a donation to the school following that newspaper article. I just hope others will follow suit because, nutrition-wise, the feeding programme is not sufficient,” thanked Nerongo.
Earlier this year, in April, the school received 42 bags of maize meal each weighing 12.5 kg. Learners are fed twice a day – in the morning and in the evening – contrary to the government’s feeding programme stipulation of one meal per day, New Era has learnt.
Parents and members of the school board have appealed to government to consider building a formal hostel at the school.
“It would be better if there was a hostel at the school because this problem has been dragging on for years now. It is very disturbing that learners are roaming around from one place to another in search of food,” said Iteze Ua Tjisemo, a parent and vice-secretary of the school board in an earlier interview with New Era.
Even though some schools in Kunene – mainly in the Opuwo constituency – face perennial water problems, Ruiters Primary always appears hardest hit by food shortages annually, forcing some learners to leave school.
Situated in the Ohandungu village in the Epupa constituency, where there is also an operational clinic, the school is fully electrified and is surrounded by six other villages.