By Anna Shilongo
“Building up the temple, building up the temple every day,” sang the children from an informal settlement day care in the capital, when they received donations of food, blankets and cosmetics yesterday.
This day centre cares for about 60 children in the Havana settlement, as well as orphans and vulnerable children.
Of late 23-year-old Agnes Mwansa, who is also an orphan, has responded to the plight of orphans and vulnerable children by donating blankets, cosmetics and food.
Officially handing over the donation, Mwansa said she had looked at a number of possible beneficiaries that needed support and identified orphans and vulnerable children as her number one priority.
“I am also an orphan and I know how it feels to be one. I have experienced the hardship of orphans because I am also one – it was never easy, life can never be the same without parents,” said Mwansa.
This is what prompted her to contribute to the wellbeing of these children.
She was hopeful that this small gesture would make a difference and encourage other organizations and individuals to value the importance of giving and sharing.
The donation will benefit 60 children that are under the care of 42-year-old Lina Johannes.
She called on other businesses, organizations and individuals in the country to follow suit.
“Thank you very much – my children and I will always remember you, we will keep you in our prayers. We will never forget your generosity. May the Lord bless you,” said Johannes.
Johannes has been taking care of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) since 2000. She started with two children who were dumped at her little shack with no food or clothes.
She decided to raise the children with the little she had and later located their parents after two years.
“When I took in those two children, people made it a habit to dump their children on my door, and others would come by themselves,” she said. Children used to be dropped for day care, but months and years would go by without them being collected.
As a result, she was forced to take in the children as her own. Prior to that, she had decided to open a little kindergarten where she taught her children under a tree next to her shack.
Other children in the neighbourhood were also welcome. As a result, parents would register their children with false contact details knowing that they were running away from them.
Despite all that, the 42-year-old never lost hope. She took in the children and raised them as her own, although she had no means of supporting them.
“The children will never sleep on a hungry stomach – I give them love and we share the little I have,” she stressed.
Like any other, she also faces numerous challenges including lack of food, transport, educational materials, proper structures, accommodation and money to settle fees for children in higher grades.
Water and electricity are another challenge. She has to walk some distance to collect water and to date her children’s schools fees are still not paid.
She also complained about her dwelling being too small to accommodate all children.
Meme Johannes and her 25 children live in a little shack with no water, electricity or a bathroom and when nature calls, these people are forced to help themselves in the bush. Sometimes they receive donations of food but they have nowhere to keep the food.
But it appears that her call has been halfway answered. Director of Planning and Development in the Khomas Regional Office, Ben Mulongeni, has assured the children that his department would make a plan to improve their living conditions.
With the assistance of the early childhood development budget, Mulongeni said, the council would construct a proper structure for the children and provide chairs and tables as well as other basic facilities.