By Wezi Tjaronda
Times are tough for the Sunrise Centre, home to close to 20 orphans and vulnerable children in Khorixas.
With limited resources for food and other basic needs, children sleep on empty stomachs.
“I try and give them love, but sometimes it is tough,” said a tearful Mariana Garises recently.
The centre, which started in 1998 when she saw how five brothers and sisters stole from a local retail shop to survive, is struggling to meet all the basic needs of the children.
The water has been disconnected since three months ago because of unpaid bills and there are fears that the house may be closed down because it is not registered with the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare.
It is a requirement by the ministry to have every children’s home registered so that they can get the necessary assistance.
Early this year, the ministry advised all children’s homes or places of safety to register themselves with the ministry or face closure in the wake of mushrooming of such institutions, which is against the Children’s Act 33 of 1960.
The Act stipulates that no child shall be received in a children’s home or place of safety unless such a place is managed by an association of persons of not less than seven and is registered.
Children’s homes are residences or homes that are maintained for the reception, protection, care and bringing up of more than six children or pupils apart from their parents.
Garises, a mother of five who runs the centre, told New Era recently the centre is in dire need of a bigger house that can accommodate more children that are left by their drinking mothers, as well as basic foodstuffs, clothes and school fees for the children.
The house now accommodates 18 children from two to 16 years old who survive on a monthly stipend of N$1 700 donated by an English Peace Corps volunteer who lived in Namibia. The house is too small for the 18 children.
Garises said the volunteer fell sick and went back and sold her house, part of whose proceeds are given to the centre for their basics needs.
She later bought another house, which also needs to be extended.
The house has neither water nor electricity.
“The house is small and the erf is also small for any expansions to be done. We cannot move in now,” she said, adding that she would write a letter to the Khorixas Town Council for another place.
Some establishments at Khorixas sometimes give the centre fruit and vegetables, cooking oil and other basic needs, while tourists donate clothes to the children.
The centre also has 45 goats donated by a Norwegian volunteer in 2005, which the centre sometimes sells when they need money.
The aim of the centre at its formation was to take care of children until such time that they go back to their families and to feed and clothe them.
After school, as many as 32 children come to the centre for a meal.