By Frederick Philander
The Help At Risk Orphans and Vulnerable Children (HERO) programme recently conducted a ground-breaking ceremony at the Hainyeko Primary school to support a project aimed at improving education for children in the Ohangwena Region.
This was announced in an official statement by UNSAID.
The Minister of Education, Nangolo Mbumba, US Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission, Eric Benjaminson, and Country Director of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Dr Claudia Harvey, officiated at the event. Ohangwena Regional Governor, Usko Nghaamwa, and several senior regional officials and local leaders also participated.
According to the statement, the HERO programme is dedicated to helping children live in HIV/AIDS-affected communities in sub-Saharan Africa.
“The initiative strives to improve the lives of children who have been orphaned or made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS by providing holistic school-based support. In Namibia, the HERO programme aims at creating a healthy learning environment and strengthening schools’ support for their most vulnerable learners, thereby helping to fight the effects of the HIV/AIDS crisis,” it said.
HERO currently works with Urban Trust of Namibia (UTN) and UNESCO to support 12 pilot schools in Ohangwena and Omusati Regions. Each school is provided with a comprehensive “HERO Package” of support that includes feeding programmes, repair and construction of classrooms, installation of toilets and clean water systems, the provision of books and school resources, and visits by nurses and counsellors.
“A group of 12 American students called “Youth Ambassadors” and four UNA-USA counsellors arrived in Namibia on July 4 to work with selected rural schools and communities in the Ohangwena Region. The visit of Youth Ambassadors is a follow-up to the HERO programme piloted in July 2006 which brought a group of teenagers from the United States to Namibia and South Africa,” the embassy said.
The educational project includes school improvements such as building and outfitting classrooms, dormitories, kitchens, playground, toilets and washrooms.
“The programme also provides teacher-training, uniforms for all students and a nourishing year-round feeding programme. In addition, a four-kilometre-long clean water piping project will be installed. This water system will be the first of its kind in this area of Namibia to be built entirely from private funding.
Procter & Gamble, a US-based private sector company, has joined USAID and UNA-USA to provide additional support and funding as part of a five-year commitment to help HERO improve the lives of the orphans and vulnerable children. A total of US$2.9-million (N$20.3-million) to support the various school-based projects is expected to be provided,” said Matthew Goagoseb on behalf of USAID.